From the time women enter puberty until the end of the last menstrual period every woman is aware of the ebb and flow of constant hormonal changes in her body. This complex interplay of hormones continues until she reaches her late 40’s or early 50’s.
Introduction supplements image from health.harvard.edu.
Symptoms of Menopause
The regular cycling of these hormones begin to change as early as the mid-thirties and symptoms likely begin in the mid-forties as women begin the process known as peri-menopause. It is the time when levels of key hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone begin to fluctuate and is accentuated by declines in other hormones such as growth hormone, DHEA and thyroid. Peri-menopause continues until periods stop and the woman becomes menopausal.
Surgical menopause involves a woman suddenly entering menopause by surgical removal of the ovaries. It can happen at almost any age and without proper hormone replacement, symptoms of hormone deficiency will be quite severe.
Though treated as a disease by doctors, women know it as a natural and inevitable transition from one stage of life to another. Puberty marks the beginning of reproductive life — menopause marks the end.
During peri-menopause (known as “the change”), women will still have a menstrual cycle, although the cycle may become erratic and a woman may skip periods as hormone levels fluctuate. This is only one symptom of menopause. Other symptoms may include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Dryness and thinning of skin and particularly in the vaginal area
- Diminished Sex Drive and loss of sensitivity to stimulation
- Hair Loss
- Forgetfulness that may include an increase of Alzheimer’s disease
- Depression and other mood changes
- Symptoms also include potential loss of bone density and increased risk of heart disease.
Loss of bone density is perhaps the greatest threat to long term health and aging.
Our bones consist of cells that grow new bone tissue and cells that dissolve (re-absorb) old bone. This occurs continually throughout our lives. Estrogen, progesterone and testosterone help our bodies absorb calcium from the intestinal tract. Estrogen slows the action of cells that cause bone breakdown. Progesterone and testosterone stimulate cells that build bone. Growth hormone is another hormone that begins to decline as early as the mid-twenties. When raised to more youthful levels, growth hormone shows great promise in rebuilding lost bone. During peri-menopause, as hormones decline, women can lose 1 to 6 percent of their bone mass each year and is most pronounced in areas of faster bone growth such as the spine.
Finding a Physician
Your first decision deals with a physician partner. You need a doctor with whom you can relate to care for your hormone health and to look after the health of your uterus.
They do not necessarily have to be the same physician. Key questions on hormone therapy: does the doctor use natural hormones, including growth hormone if that interests you, and will the doctor take the time to work with you? You may also elect to work with one of our doctors. In some cases we may not have a doctor in your area. In such cases we will council with you on the best way to proceed. Our doctors are board certified in family practice, internal medicine or GYN. We look for doctors who will take the time to do it right. GYN practices are typically high volume low patient visit time.
After receiving an order from the Getting Started page, we would send you a lab testing form with instructions on locating a convenient Quest lab blood-drawing station in your area. The results would be returned to us and shared with you by phone, fax and of course with our doctor as a basis for developing a hormone program.
Managing Your Hormone Program
How you might approach managing your hormone program:
During early peri-menopause, when the hormone top starts to wobble, you might do very well with a high quality non-prescription Phyto-estrogen (see Estro-Flavone) and progesterone cream. As hormones continue to decline your body will probably tell you that hormones being provided by the non-prescription products are not adequate to relieve symptoms. At that point it will be necessary to find a physician who can work with you and provide the necessary natural hormone prescriptions to replace hormones to a level that will relieve symptoms and achieve balance.
*Remember, there are over-the-counter non-prescription natural hormones and natural hormones that require a prescription.
The process of hormone and supplement replacement in the various stages of peri-menopause might go as follows:
Phyto-Estrogen and progesterone cream
For peri-menopause. These would be non-prescription.
For mid peri-menopause. These require a prescription.
Estrogen, Progesterone & Testosterone
For late peri-menopause. These are also prescription-required. Get them prescribed by your doctor.
Indole-3-carbinol, 7-Keto DHEA and Growth Hormone
These are recommended during all stages of peri-menopause.
Over The Counter Menopause Supplements
The following supplements can be ordered over-the-counter (or from Amazon) and can be used throughout every phase of menopause.
Phyto-estrogens are available in most supplement stores. Remifemin is perhaps one of the best known. We have searched the market and we believe we have found its equal or better product. It is a produced by Douglas Laboratories and only sold through doctor’s offices called Estro-Flavone.
Progesterone Cream – There are a number of these available over-the -counter and on the Internet. Be sure it contains USP natural progesterone. Because these are so readily available, we have not looked for a product to offer on this web site. If you have a question or need help, give us a call.
7-keto DHEA – Stress causes the body to release cortisol, a very destructive and aging hormone ( see DHEA page). To help counter cortisol we recommend 7-keto DHEA.
Indole-3-carbinol – An inexpensive hedge against breast cancer.
Growth hormone is somewhat expensive, but well worth the cost if economics permit. Growth hormone is a prescription hormone taken by twice daily self-administered injections – it is easy and painless. Cost will range from $400 to $600 per month.