Fort Lauderdale Menopause and Perimenopause Specialist
Menopause is a natural part of aging that affects each woman in a different way. Menopause is the permanent end of menstruation and fertility, and it is a natural biological process, not a medical illness. However, menopause can lead to symptoms that drain women’s energy, lead to feelings of sadness and loss, and some women also experience hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, thinning bones, vaginal dryness, low libido, and sleeping issues.
Menopause occurs in most women between the ages of 45 and 55; although, some women enter menopause during the thirties. Before a woman reaches menopause, she will experience perimenopause. During this time, the ovaries will gradually produce less and less estrogen, and this stage can last as long as ten years, although, the average is four years. During perimenopause, women will start to experience many of the symptoms that people associate with menopause, such as hot flashes and irregular menstrual periods.
Menopause officially begins when a woman has not had a menstrual period for one year. In the years leading up to menopause, women may experience a decrease in fertility, hot flashes, trouble sleeping, an increase in abdominal fat, more PMS symptoms, breast tenderness, vaginal dryness, moodiness, low libido, thinning hair, and urinary leakage or urgency. A woman’s menstrual period may also become irregular, and it may last longer or shorter than normal and the flow may increase. Women may find that they never know when to expect their period and may go several months without a period before it resumes again.
What is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)?
Fort Lauderdale FL Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy programs use compounds that are identical to the hormones the body produces. They are naturally occurring plant derived products and are offered in several forms, which include creams, patches, gels, and pellet implants. Synthetic hormones commonly prescribed over bio-identical hormones, and synthetic hormones have increased cardiovascular and cancer risks according to the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). This is why hormone replacement therapy has gotten a bad reputation.
Hormones For Replacement Therapy
- Estradiol (E1)-80% of a woman’s estrogen
- Estriol (E2)
- Estrone (E3)
Estradiol is the estrogen of youth. It is most abundant when women are young and full of energy, no wrinkles, no weight gain, increased sex drive, and low to no incidence of heart disease or cancer. Women with high levels of estradiol often feel great, and it stays high during the teens and twenties and starts to decrease during the thirties and forties.
By the time women reach menopause, estradiol has all but disappeared. It is bio-identical Estradiol that is supplemented when levels have diminished to the point that a woman becomes symptomatic.
Estriol is the estrogen of pregnancy. Although it is an important estrogen, it is a weaker form and less important during this part of a woman’s life. Estrone is the estrogen found in postmenopausal women. It stores itself in body fat and has more known cancer causing properties. The increased production of estrone coincides with the increased incidence of breast cancer and heart disease in women over 50. This change in total ratio of the different estrogens as a woman gets older explains why she experiences the many uncomfortable symptoms of menopause.
Benefits of Estrogen Replacement
- Alleviates perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms
- Protects against bone loss
- Protects the cardiovascular system, reduces blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels and prevents plaque formation.
- Provides maintenance of anti-aging mechanisms
- Reduces incidence of diabetes
- Protects nerve cells and brain function
- Helps memory and learning ability
- Improves sleep
- Provides antidepressant effect by increasing serotonin levels
Testosterone is important for women also, but they make one-seventh the amount per day that men make. Correcting female testosterone deficiencies are important. During a woman’s reproductive years, her ovaries not only make estrogen, but also testosterone. In women, testosterone is produced half in the ovaries and half in the adrenal glands. After menopause, testosterone production decreased gradually by one third of premenopausal levels, unlike estrogen production, which decreased dramatically. In women who have had their ovaries removed, testosterone levels drop by half.
Other functions of testosterone include:
- Increased bone mass
- Increased strength
- Improved quality of life
- Helps stabilize blood sugar
- Aids in prevention of headaches and migraines
- Protects against cardiovascular disease
- Protects against Alzheimer’s and dementia
- Increased muscle mass
- Higher libido
- Prevents aches, pains, and arthritis
- Reduces breast cancer
Progesterone is made in the ovaries after ovulation. This hormone prepares the uterus for a fertilized egg. If there are no eggs to be implanted, then the progesterone levels drop to cause a shedding of the uterine lining. Progesterone is one of the two main hormones produced in the ovaries of menstruating women, and it is made in small amounts in the adrenal glands. Other functions of progesterone include:
- Serves as a natural antidepressant
- Helps to restore the normal sleep pattern
- Plays several roles in cardiovascular protection
- Helps to normalize blood sugar levels
- Strengthens bones and stimulates bone building
- Uses fat for energy
- Improves alertness and gives more energy
- Restores Libido
Symptoms of a progesterone deficiency include:
- Hot flashes or night sweats
- Foggy thinking or memory loss
- Water retention
- Increased risk of breast or uterine cancer
- Vaginal dryness
- Bone loss, aches, or pains
- Yeast infections
- Hair loss, especially on top of the head
Are There Any Side Effects?
Before bio-identical hormone replacement therapy is initiated basic blood tests are drawn, including FSH, Estradiol, as well as total Testosterone levels. All drugs taken in non-physiological doses have the potential to present adverse side effects.
Metabolic syndrome is the name of a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for hypertension, coronary artery disease, stroke, and Type II Diabetes. The American Heart Association states that metabolic syndrome can be identified by the presence of three or more of these components:
- Elevated Blood Pressure greater than 130/85
- Elevated Waist Circumference of over 35 for women and 40 for men
- High Fasting Triglycerides of over 150
- Lower HDL, which is healthy cholesterol
- High Fasting Glucose Levels of over 100
Other Associated Conditions May Include:
- Pro-thrombic State, which is an increased risk of blood clots
- Pro-inflammatory State, which is an elevated C-Reactive Protein in the blood
Individuals associated with three or more of these conditions are at an increased risk for plaque build up in artery walls, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and other medical conditions.
Combining these conditions with stress, aging, physical inactivity, smoking, and a genetic predisposition for heart disease or strokes can greatly increase the chances for illness. Fort Lauderdale Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy programs can drastically reduce the chances for developing metabolic syndrome and other age related illnesses.