Perimenopause, meaning “around menopause,” refers to the time when a woman’s body is making its natural transition toward permanent infertility (menopause).
During perimenopause, women experience a wide variety of symptoms and bodily changes, many of which are painful and frustrating. Hot flashes, weight gain, irregular periods, night sweats, and mood swings can all accompany the widely fluctuating hormone levels during this time in a woman’s life.
On top of these symptoms, the normal course of biology can cause psychological stress for women, who often view menopause as a change in identity. Relationships can suffer if a woman’s partner and other family members, friends, or coworkers are unprepared or not willing to be understanding of any resulting shifts in her behavior and mood.
Unfortunately, when women seek help during perimenopause, they will more often than not find themselves receiving bad advice and treatment. Why? Because of a misunderstanding, even on the part of most doctors, of what’s going on with a woman’s hormones in the perimenopausal period.
The Big Mistake
Most doctors tend to treat perimenopause with the same method that they use to treat menopause: by supplementing with estrogen. After all, some of the symptoms are the same, so the remedy should be the same as well, right?
Once menopause occurs, there’s a cessation of estrogen and progesterone produced by the ovaries. But during perimenopause, estrogen levels are not necessarily low. In fact, they fluctuate wildly and are often elevated. That’s because a hormone produced by the ovaries called inhibin is a primary factor in perimenopausal symptoms. A woman’s ovaries first begin to lose the hormone inhibin. When this happens, her brain sends a signal to the ovaries to increase estrogen production. Often, estrogen levels can rise to two to three times their normal level, causing hot flashes and other symptoms to occur. So if a physician is treating the hot flashes and other symptoms with estrogen, they can often get worse, not better.
The Correct Treatment
That’s why I treat women in perimenopause by administering bioidentical progesterone, which, as with women experiencing PMS, balances and offsets the effects of high and fluctuating estrogen levels.
Treatment with bioidentical progesterone leads to relief from hot flashes and night sweats, and a feeling of wellbeing and evenness returns.
Perimenopause and menopause are part of aging, and along with them come possible weight gain, risk of degenerative disease, and sometimes difficult psychological changes. So in addition to administering bioidentical progesterone, I’ll support other key hormones such as thyroid, DHEA, Vitamin D, and testosterone, which are often low even prior to perimenopause. Optimized hormones improve health and a create a feeling of overall wellbeing. Having optimal hormones as a women begins perimenopause can make this dreaded transition smooth and quite manageable.
If you’re experiencing your first hot flashes, or want to head them off at the pass, call The Body Well today and schedule an evaluation with Dr. Mike Carragher.
Call The Body Well today at (323) 874-9355 and schedule a hormonal evaluation. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.