Don’t Surrender to Menopause
We’ve all heard the word menopause. If you are a woman, you’ve either been through menopause or are going to at some point. And yet, how much do we really know about it? Despite my background as a physician, I’m embarrassed to admit I failed to recognize my own menopausal symptoms.
First, I lost my sleep, the most I could get was 3 hours. I felt tired all the time. I stopped exercising because I didn’t have energy and motivation. I gained weight. It was hard to make it through the day, even making dinner was an effort. I blamed it all on my demanding job and busy life. I grew irritable. One day I snapped at my mom over nothing on her birthday! Immediately I felt terrible but surprisingly she didn’t get upset. “You know,” she said, “I felt exactly like you when I started going through my menopause.” And that’s when it struck me – those were all the symptoms of menopause!
I was only 46 and although menopausal symptoms often occur in women at this age, I wasn’t expecting them to happen to me. I wasn’t the only one. Millions of women dismiss the symptoms or explain them away by working too hard, answering family demands or dealing with whatever else life might throw at them.
Symptoms of Menopause
You may have heard that you are considered in menopause when you haven’t had your period for at least a year. While this is true, the symptoms typically arrive 5-10 years before the periods stop. This is called perimenopause. Some symptoms are well known: hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. But there are many more symptoms that are far less known. They are often misinterpreted and ignored by many women and even doctors. So, what are those symptoms?
Less known Menopause Symptoms
- Low energy
- Poor sleep
- Depression, anxiety
- Weight gain
- Memory problems
- Brain fog
- Muscle and joint pains
- Thinning hair, crepey skin
- Vaginal dryness
- Low sex drive
And as if feeling moody, tired, out of shape and out of control weren’t bad enough, menopause carries serious health risks, because menopause means losing key hormones that protect us from many diseases.
Potential Health Risks Due to Menopause
When your hormones start disappearing in menopause you lose much more than a normal life. You lose protection against many diseases of aging:
- Osteoporosis after menopause needs no introduction. It weakens your bones making them fragile. Breaking a hip makes you 3 times more likely to die within a year! And if you survive, there is a good chance you’ll end up in a nursing home.
- Cardiovascular disease develops much faster after menopause because your heart and blood vessels are no longer protected by estrogen. This means many more heart attacks and strokes.
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have been linked to hormone deficiency brought by menopause.
When hormones are restored, the risk of these diseases drops dramatically. Our body needs hormones to stay healthy and function. However, once we stop making hormones, they won’t come back on their own. The only way to restore hormones after the production shutdown is to put them back into your body through hormone replacement therapy.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy is the only effective treatment available to reduce both the menopause symptoms and the risk of diseases. It’s truly a shame that over the last 20 years, so many women have been scared away from this potentially life-saving therapy by misinformation and media hype.
The worry about the risk of breast cancer is due to a large study called Women’s Health Initiative published in 2002. Although the study did show slightly elevated rates of breast cancer, it only looked at women who took artificial hormones. Those hormones are made from chemicals or horse urine. Bioidentical hormones, on the other hand, have not been shown by any research to cause cancer. They are made from plants such as soybeans and yams and exactly match the hormones your body makes. They don’t carry the risks synthetic hormones do.
In my practice, I only use natural bioidentical hormones and never use synthetics. Numerous research studies have shown that women who are supplementing their hormones live longer, happier and much healthier lives. The benefits of replenishing your hormones are tremendous and can show quickly after you start the therapy. Hot flashes disappear within days. Brain fog is usually gone within a couple of weeks. Sleep gets better and your energy surges. Hormone therapy not only helps with the symptoms, it also cuts the risk of heart disease and dementia. It improves bladder control, slows down osteoporosis and increases longevity.
There are many alternative treatments to help you go through menopause such as cognitive behavioral therapy, acupuncture, yoga, and herbal supplements. These treatments can make you feel better and reduce some of your symptoms but they cannot bring your hormones back. Therefore, they won’t protect you from osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and dementia.
Don’t Face Your Menopause Alone
I’ve lost count of the women who sit in my office and tearfully tell me how their menopause symptoms are wrecking their relationships, careers and quality of life. Some are on the verge of quitting their jobs. Others are afraid their marriage is starting to crumble. All because of the symptoms that in reality are readily treatable.
You shouldn’t wait for your life to get out of control before seeking help. If you have any of the symptoms we’ve talked about or even if you are not sure, don’t think twice about getting help right away. You are likely to live over a third of your life after menopause. What would you like those years to be like?
Fulfilling relationships, career, travel, hobbies, healthy, happy and vibrant life – all are possible and within reach. You can also build good defenses against osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and many other “old age” diseases. You can stay fit, younger looking, full of energy and mentally sharp, but only if you choose to restore your hormones and don’t surrender to menopause.
Yes, restoring hormones is key to this transformation. Not antidepressants, fad diets or bags of sleeping and other pills. If you want your happy life back, hormone optimization is the way to go.
Dr. Tatiana Fleischman is a menopause expert. She is a Board-Certified Medical Doctor specializing in bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. Her practice is located in Stamford.
Schedule a free phone consultation at: cthormonetherapy.com/free-consultation or call 203.275.6666.