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Debunking Common Myths About Menopause

Menopause is a natural process that affects practically all women at some point in their lives.

Though menopause is a very common occurrence, not every woman will experience the same symptoms in the same way. Because of these differences, there are a variety of myths and misunderstandings about menopause that persist.

Today we’re debunking some of the most common myths surrounding menopause. Five of these menopause myths include:

1. Menopause is just a phase.

Even the definition of menopause is often misunderstood.

Technically, menopause is the point at which a woman has gone 12 consecutive months without a menstrual cycle. Up until that point, she is pre-menopausal, after that point she is post-menopausal. Once a woman is menopausal, she will remain menopausal for the remainder of her life.

The average U.S. woman is 51-years-old when she officially becomes menopausal, and remains menopausal for 30 years. So is this just a phase? I don't think so - it is a significant portion of a woman's life!

A recent study showed that menopausal symptoms lasted an average of 7-12 years. Even the duration of symptoms doesn't meet my idea of "just a phase!"

2. If your mom was miserable after menopause, you will be too.

While it is true that women tend to have the same onset of menopause as their mothers, lifestyle plays a significant role in menopausal symptoms. There is much you can do nutritionally before menopause strikes to help minimize symptoms.

Phytonutrients, phytonutrients, phytonutrients! This means vegetables, and lot of them.  It is especially helpful to eat dark green, leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, chard, and broccoli.  Low intensity exercise, such as walking or yoga, can also be helpful to minimize hot flashes and night sweats.

We also have better treatment options with bio-identical hormones than your mother had. There's no reason to suffer through menopause just because your mother did. Research your options. And we really hope that bio-identical hormones (and our practice in particular) is your choice for menopausal treatment!

3. The earlier you start your periods, the earlier you’ll hit menopause.

The average age of menarche (the onset of menstrual periods) in the U.S. is currently 12.4 years old. In women born prior to 1920, the average age of menarche was 13.3 years old.

Yet the average age of onset of menopause in the U.S. has been 51 years old for decades. So there is no correlation between how old you were when you start your period and the age you will be when you start menopause.

The only somewhat accurate indicator? Genetics!

Women tend to go through menopause around the same age that their mothers did. However, that isn't very accurate either...

4. Blood tests are the gold standard to test hormone levels.

Hormones that are produced in a gland are released into the bloodstream. Hormones that are NOT produced in a gland (produced in fat, converted from other hormones, etc.) are NOT released into the bloodstream; these hormones are released directly into the tissues of the body. Therefore, a blood test shows the hormones that the ovaries (or other glands) are currently making.

After menopause, what are the ovaries producing? Little to nothing. This is exactly why we use saliva tests to look at hormone levels. Only 35-50% of a women's estrogen is made by the ovaries, leaving 50-65% of estrogen coming from elsewhere in the body.

To determine hormone imbalance, and if we've achieved the correct re-balancing of hormones, we need to know how much hormone is in a woman's tissues, so saliva testing is the best method to determine this.

5. Hormone replacement is dangerous.

When hormones are employed, starting with progesterone-only therapy can be a gentle and often effective treatment, although there are many cases when estrogen is of absolute benefit.

Unfortunately, the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) findings of increased incidence of heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancer have caused many women to falsely believe that they must choose between the risk of heart attack or cancer and living with symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, irritability, and more.

The WHI study was done using oral conjugated equine estrogen and medroxyprogesterone acetate, which is not the same thing as bio-identical progesterone. The general public, led by the medical community at large, does not typically differentiate between these hormones (conventional HRT) and therapies that employ bio-identical hormones (BHRT) such as estradiol and progesterone.

When hormones are given in physiologic doses, and in correct ratios, the risk profile is profoundly different. Knowledge is power and accurate expectations about menopause and the real risks and benefits of the many treatment options available will have profound impact not only on individual women, but may help to correct the spread of misinformation.

Do you have a hormonal imbalance? We can help.

At Abundant Life Health Care, we understand that treating hormonal imbalances means addressing more than just your symptoms.

In order for you to have the best outcomes, we address all of the factors that contribute to your wellness. We can then correct these imbalances using bio-identical hormones, nutrition, dietary supplements, and lifestyle changes.

It’s our goal to help you discover your optimal energy and wellness. Request an appointment to start your journey toward abundant health today.

Posted by Karole Beck at 4/12/2018 6:20:00 PM
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