Menopause Treatment in Scottsdale

I am experiencing hot flashes, low libido, and mood swings. Am I in menopause?

My cycles are not regular as they used to be. Am I in menopause?

I have not had a cycle for months. Am I in menopause?

What is menopause, anyway?

These are the typical questions that some of my Scottsdale patients ask when they come to me for their hormonal evaluation  believing their hormones are to blame for how they feel. I believe education is the foundation for every woman who wishes to integrate holistic and natural medicine into her health care management. I hope information provided here will answer if not all, most of your questions. If after reading this information, you find yourself asking still more questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office. We are always happy to assist.

Introduction & Definitions

Perimenopause

The reproductive phase of a woman’s life is defined as the period between the first menstrual cycle (age 12-13) and the emergence of consistently irregular menses. Perimenopause is a period of time in which women’s ovaries are getting ready to retire and enter a new phase which is “menopause”. This phase can take many years. Please read our full article on perimenopause here.

Natural Menopause

Natural Menopause is an expected and biological event in women at midlife due to cessation of ovarian function. The menopause transition represents a continuum of changes from regular menstrual cyclicity and fertility to lack of menstruation and loss of fertility in postmenopausal women.
The average age of menopause in the Massachusetts Women’s Health Study of 2570 women was 51.3 years old; however, individual variation in the onset of menopause is significant. In 1990, there were 467 million postmenopausal women in the world. Population projections based on demographics studies predict that by the year 2030, the number of post
menopausal women will increase to 1.2 billion. At the current rate, approximately 47 million women will be in menopause each year.

As a general rule, the first 12 months without a cycle would be considered menopause and time beyond that point would be post-menopause.

Surgical menopause

Surgical menopause is defined by the World health Organization as cessation of menses because of surgical removal of both ovaries, with or without removal of the uterus. There are several major differences between surgical and natural menopause, most notably, the rapidity with which hormonal withdrawal occurs and the substantial decrease in estrogen, progesterone and testosterone which is more pronounced in surgical menopause as compared to natural menopause.

Induced menopause

Induced menopause refers to termination of ovarian function typically induced by chemotherapy or radiation.

Menopausal Symptoms

Women are able to recognize which symptom is hormonally related and which symptom is not. Though some symptoms are more common than others, the range is enormous. The most commonly reported symptoms experienced by women during the transition are:

  • Hot flashes/night sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Low energy
  • Vaginal dryness resulting in painful intercourse
  • Aching joints
  • Migraine headaches
  • Mood changes: depression, anxiety, loss of emotional control (i.e; crying for no reason), sudden and inappropriate bursts of anger, sensitivity to being touched by others
  • Thinning scalp and underarm hair
  • Disturbing memory lapses

Although some women experience minimal symptoms, many women are markedly affected by these symptoms and perceive a relative decline in quality of life. Conservative estimates report that approximately 40% of women are bothered by hot flashes, 30-50% by disturbed sleep, and 25-35% by vaginal dryness to the point of seeking medical treatment. Although poorly studied, estimates of symptom duration vary from 2-20 years.

A New Paradigm

How we look at menopause, is all in the framing. As long as we refer to menopause as “ovarian failure”, “reproductive failure”, or “estrogen- deficiency disease” all we accomplish is the creation of a negative perspective which in turn leads to negative feelings and expectations. The way we frame the idea of menopause, frames our interactions and relationships in life within the context of menopause.
If we view menopause as a hormonal shift mirroring puberty (in reverse), we see another way to frame this natural part of every woman’s life. When women are able to break through the classic image as was mentioned in the previous paragraph, they experience a sense of empowerment which allows them to once again blossom and in effect begin a whole new phase of life. This is in fact the way every woman going through it should experience menopause!

Holistic, Natural Approach to Menopause Health Management

A significant problem facing perimenopausal and postmenopausal women, as well as their healthcare practitioners is determining what approach to take regarding treatment, especially when it comes to Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
There are many options, ranging from no intervention at all to conventional, none bioidentical HRT. Approaches which lie somewhere in between involve the use of herbal and nutritional supplementation or hormone replacement regimens such as bioidentical, natural *Hormone Replacement Therapy which tend to be friendlier and more gentle than those typically prescribed (non bioidentical hormones).
In order to identify the best option for treatment, there are three aspects of menopause which need to be evaluated:

  1. Identifying Symptoms on an Individual Basis
    Each woman experiences the transition differently. Women are the best judges of their bodies and how they feel and their intuition about symptoms at this time of life is usually accurate. Nevertheless, some level of intervention is usually called for in order to mitigate the impact of these changes.
Review the above list of the most commonly reported menopausal symptoms and you’ll notice that they cover a range of both physical and psychological problems. Accurately defining the symptoms being experienced by each individual is of utmost importance. Some women may be impacted in ways that effect their overall health and ability to physically function while others may find that they are able to deal with their symptoms except for in certain situations such as professional interactions. Hence, the individuality of the impact of these enormous fluctuations in hormonal levels should be the framework in which symptoms are recognized and evaluated. The good news is that very often, the symptoms can be addressed relatively easily through a well tailored and properly implemented treatment approach.
  2. Measuring Blood Hormone Levels
    At times certain factors such a woman’s age or particular physical attributes may present a challenge to a correct diagnosis and/or ongoing treatment. Blood tests are used to reduce or eliminate the possibility of such outcomes. As part of a proper evaluation and subsequent decision making process for a proper treatment approach, besides a patient’s symptoms and complaints, it is important to measure the levels of hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone in the blood. These levels are important determining factors in formulating a* Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy approach. Blood hormonal levels should also be retested at specific intervals (usually once a year) to make sure the safe levels are maintained in the system.
  3. Addressing and Protecting Bone Density, Cardiovascular Health, Breast Health, and Thyroid Function
    Menopause is not only about experiencing symptoms, it is also about being at higher risk of developing chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and declining thyroid function. Dr. Aidun as a naturopathic doctor dealing primarily with holistic and natural care of perimenopausal and menopausal women will investigate each area thoroughly, making sure the screening tests are up to date and necessary treatments and/or preventative measures are taken.

It is your right to know about different options before you decide what “to do” or “not to do” and be comfortable with your choices and our duty is to offer and discuss your options with you.

To discover your path to wellness and schedule a health assessment, contact us today.