By Carol L. Roberts, MD, ABIHM
They say nothing in this world is certain, except death and taxes.
For women, I’d like to add a third item to the list – menopause.
At some point, women’s bodies begin to produce less estrogen and progesterone, hormones that regulate body functions, preserve bone strength and regulate food intake, body weight, cholesterol production, glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. A reduction in those valuable hormones puts women at a greater risk for degenerative diseases, disabilities and even various types of cancers.
Menopausal women commonly experience hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain, sleep disorders, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, decreased sexual desire and other symptoms. Although some women report very few changes after entering menopause, they’re the lucky ones. Symptoms of menopause can become severe to the point that they impact personal relationships, daily activities and even work.
About 50% of female patients who visit Naples Center for Functional Medicine are there for assistance to help address menopause-related concerns. Rather than take prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications to alleviate symptoms, they want a natural solution to a naturally occurring biological change.
As recently as a decade ago, hormone replacement therapy was still being questioned by some in the medical research community, as well as potential patients. Is it safe? What are the side effects? Is it right for me?
The bio-identical hormones being offered to our patients, however, are chemically identical to those produced by a premenopausal woman. In fact, they’re proven safer than pharmaceutical hormones that can actually increase risks of complications. That’s why nearly every one of my patients seeking to alleviate symptoms of menopause turns to hormone replacement therapy.
Before women proceed with hormone replacement therapy, they should have a lengthy consultation with a knowledgeable physician and undergo thorough diagnostic testing. Whether or not the patient opts for hormone replacement therapy, many of our patients also commit to making healthier lifestyle choices like increasing physical activity, maintaining a healthy diet and managing stress. No two women are the same, so their health care road map should not be the same, either.
What often surprises female patients is that hormone replacement therapy works so quickly to alleviate symptoms. At the follow-up visit four to six weeks later, many women report sleeping better, losing weight and improved relationships. They aren’t feeling as exhausted or cranky, and their energy levels are no longer zapped.
Death, taxes and menopause may be unavoidable, but bio-identical hormone replacement therapy is a viable natural option to help women address one of those inevitabilities.
As always, consult with your physician prior to making any substantial lifestyle, health or nutritional changes. To schedule an appointment and discuss your personal health and wellness goals, call the Naples Center for Functional Medicine at 239-649-7400 or submit an appointment request through our online form.