Pre-menopause is the name given to the 10 years leading up to menopause. At this time ladies are experiencing fluctuations in their hormonal levels, with Progesterone down-regulating from as early as mid thirties. Menopausal symptoms can occur and menstrual cycles may become irregular with heavy or slight blood loss.
Many women in their mid thirties continue to have regular menstruation, yet become anovulatory, meaning no ovulation occurs in this cycle. They are therefore deficient in Progesterone. This results in the torrid symptoms associated with menopause.
Menopause simply means the last menses (period) a woman will have. Meno comes from the Greek meaning month and pause from pausis meaning halt. When you have missed 12 consecutive menstrual cycles you are considered to be postmenopausal. At menopause, oestrogen production drops 40-60% and progesterone about 12 times greater than this!
Common symptoms associated with menopause are:
Very few women pass through their menopausal years without experiencing hot flashes or flushes. These are experienced by an estimated 50-85% of all menopausal women. Hot flashes/flushes may be accompanied by palpitations or a feeling of choking, apprehension or anxiety. They are worse immediately after a hot drink, spicy food, increased stress and if there has been a long interval between eating. Women are often awoken abruptly in a bath of sweat which is referred to as night sweats. This can necessitate changing the bed linen several times a night causing sleep deprivation, fatigue and grumpy partners!
Hormones that may be needed to diminish hotflushes include Progesterone, DHEA and Oestrogen Progesterone/DHEA/Oestrogen and need to be balanced for the individual. Starting with Progesterone and incorporating other hormones as symptoms and lab results indicate the need.
The feelings of depression, low self esteem, mood swings, foggy thinking and anxiety often result in ladies being prescribed anti-depressant medication. While this may treat the symptoms it leaves the underlying cause of hormonal imbalance, unaddressed.
As ladies progress further into menopause symptoms like Vaginal atrophy (skin becoming thinner and dryer in the vagina) occurs from a lack of oestrogen. Ladies can remain oestrogen dominant from the unhealthy oestrogens in our environment while being deficient of the healthy intrinsic oestrogen as explained on the following pages - Oestrogen dominance and Oestrogen deficiency.
Given the lowering of libido, decreased energy and muscle strength experienced by some ladies at menopause this group may also benefit from Testosterone and/or DHEA supplementation Testosterone /DHEA As indicated above the treatment of menopause is an individual balancing of hormones in response to the symptoms and laboratory results. While this may appear complicated Patient Advocates have extensive experience in helping Ladies achieve hormonal balance and return of health and vitality.
Lee John (1999) What your doctor may not tell you about enopause/peri-menopause. New York, NY. Warner Books
Northrup Christiane. (2010) Women’s bodies, women’s wisdom. New York, NY. Bantam Books
Martin, Raquel. Gerstrung, Judi (1998) The oestrogen alternative: natural hormone therapy with botanical progesterone. Rochester, VT. Healing Arts Press
Patterson, Kimberley (1999). Progesterone, the natural hormone.