Perimenopause/Menopause: The Storm Before the Calm

In my 30 plus years of experience as a gynecologist I have met thousands of women who found this stage of their life to be a rollercoaster of symptoms. The symptoms can start as early as age 35, prior to the loss of our menstrual cycles waxing and waning or they can begin as late as 10 years after the menopause.

It’s interesting  how some women can have no symptoms at all.  Some kind of way the symptomatic ones found me or maybe I was looking for them. I have met many women who hadterrible symptoms of hot flashes, mood swings of sobbing to screaming or both all in minutes of one another (now this will make you or others think you have a mental issue), heavy and or frequent menstrual cycles, insomnia, lack of interest in sex, night sweats, irritability, weight gainand more. I actually built my hormone practice looking for you after I accidentally diagnosed myself (that’s another story).

Often these women were told they needed Xanax, Ambien or antidepressants such as Prozac or Zoloft as a treatment for their symptoms. Those scripts were not uncommonly written by gynecologists. I never have forgotten the throw away free Ob/Gyn magazine that made those recommendations, albeit the magazine was sponsored by a pharmaceutical company. I could not believe their recommendations, because I knew these women needed hormones, not medications and certainly not birth control pills.

In 2002 the WHI study results came out and we were told to take every woman off hormones,because we were afraid that we were increasing their risk for breast cancer. Prior to that time, I was telling women how Premarin was the best hormone they could ever use, repeating what I was told by Wyeth who made Premarin. Many of those women came back, demanding that I put them back on their hormones immediately. I quickly learned never argue with a woman who needs her hormones, you will lose every time.

It has taken years to dispel the myths about hormones being harmful. Many clinicians are still concerned about giving women hormones, despite the supporting medical literature proving the benefits of hormone replacement therapy. Women are more than 7 times likely to die from heart disease than from breast cancer.  The benefits that estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and thyroid hormone help to not only lower the risk for heart disease, but also lower the risk for osteoporosis, hip fracture, diabetes and colon cancer.  Hormone Replacement Therapy lowers the risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, which has a 0% cure rate.  And yes, there are riskswith estrogen, the risk for a blood clot in your legs or even worse in your lungs, a similar risk we took with oral contraceptives.

If you are in the storm of the perimenopause or maybe your storm came later in the menopausal years and you are wondering if your symptoms are related to declining hormone levels, it very well could be. I have seen hormones do amazing things in women to help them return back to themselves. Sleeping and feeling balanced in their moods, losing weight and regaining interest in sex again or what I call “getting their sexy back” as they begin to once again enjoy sexual encounters and have a level of intimacy return with their partner/spouse.

The storm can be calmed with proper hormone replacement therapy using estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and even thyroid hormone replacement for hormone optimizationwhether you are approaching menopause or if you have been menopausal for years.  Hormones could be just what you need.

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