Most people know estrogen as the female hormone most closely associated with menopause, as menopause results from decreasing estrogen levels. What people don’t often realize is that estrogens (including estrone, estradiol, and estriol) are multi-function molecules that exist in women, men, and animals and impact all systems of the body. Estrogen does facilitate major functions within the reproductive and endocrine systems, but this powerful hormone carries many more far-reaching implications for overall health.
Watching women go through menopause, you understand immediately why hot flashes are such a big deal. The rush of heat, flushing and blotchy skin, and perspiration can be distressing and embarrassing at the best of times—and when these moments occur at night, they may be even worse. Menopausal women often deal with the rapid heartbeat and uncomfortable flushing multiple times per day (or per hour) and can experience chronic insomnia as a result. Depending on the woman, this perfect storm of discomfort can last anywhere from five to ten years or more. Combine hot flashes with the mood swings, vaginal discomfort, and other widely varied symptoms of menopause, and it’s no wonder women are seeking relief.
Billie struggled with painful periods throughout her adult years. She felt at the mercy of her monthly cycles, which were irregular, heavy, and came with crippling cramps. At age 23 her doctor finally put a name on her discomfort: endometriosis. But even with an accurate diagnosis, she struggled for years to find the right treatment. Relief only came after her second pregnancy when doctors urged her toward surgery to finally address her painful symptoms; thanks to a radical hysterectomy, Billie’s life changed forever. But while the hysterectomy brought welcome relief from her pain, it also introduced new complications.
Menopause is a natural phenomenon that women experience as they age. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. As your ovaries cease estrogen production, you’ve likely experienced some of your most significant bodily changes since puberty. Hot flashes, weight gain, insomnia, and depression are just the tip of the iceberg for women in the beginning of menopause, and some women deal with these symptoms for years afterward.
With the advent of menopause, women may experience a host of symptoms that can have a profound impact on both physical and emotional well-being. To address these symptoms, a growing number of women are turning to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) in order to replenish hormone levels and ease discomfort. While estrogen is often the centerpiece of these hormonal therapies, progesterone can also have a significant impact on functionality and quality of life.
If you’ve stepped on a scale recently and been unpleasantly surprised by the numbers, you may be searching for a reason behind your unintentional weight gain. If you’ve recently started taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopause, you might suspect your new hormone regimen is the culprit. Or is it menopause itself?