Why Your Menopause Does Not Have to be Like Your Mom’s

Many of us grew up hearing about the terrible experiences a grandmother, aunt and eventually our moms experienced with menopause. Between weight gain, decreased sex drive and quick growth of facial hair, it is only logical that if those are your only expectations of menopause, you will spend a lot of time dreading the experience.

Fortunately, extensive research and new information has allowed menopause to be a healthy, safe experience. In addition, it is also possible to manage your symptoms in such a way that the symptoms of this change are all but invisible to that of people around us. However, doing so requires identifying the problems and choosing treatment options that were not available to our mothers and other female relatives with whom we were close as children.

What do we Know Now that They Did Not Know Before

There were so many things about womanhood, motherhood, fertility, perimenopause and yes, both menopause and the years following it that we never knew before. For instance, it is easy to assume that when the symptoms of menopause appear, the years of pregnancy and the need for birth control vanishes. That is surely one of the most common reasons that at least a few of us had siblings not much younger than our own kids and it is crucial to remember that most physicians do not consider a woman to be post-menopausal until it has been at least 12 full months since her last menstrual cycle.

The symptoms of perimenopause can impact your fertility, which is actually one of the newer problems that many of us are experiencing. Although delaying motherhood until college, careers and homes have been obtained is often the best idea for an improved quality of life for everyone, it also means that when the normal hormonal fluctuations of life appear, they can make it difficult to complete a family.

So, determining what the best choice for these challenging years will be will involve not only evaluating what your needs and expectations will be, but also considering what you would like to avoid. For many, the most important aspects to avoid are the obvious physical symptoms, such as hot flashes and facial hair, and therefore they should be addressed first.

Nutrition will play a huge role, as will avoiding triggering substances. You do have the choice of filling the first of many prescriptions, some of which you might be expected to take for decades. It should be pointed out that supplementing your own hormones could easily cause the same short-term results, and unlike many prescriptions are unlikely to be recalled when the long-term results of certain prescriptions are finally made available to the public..

Progesterone, Estrogen…and Testosterone? (we have talked about it here and here)

You have many different hormones within your body and the combination of each will have a direct impact on how you feel and your health. Although testosterone is typically associated with men, women also have small amounts of it and it is as likely to change during menopause as any other hormone.

Even though there are a few exceptions, in general if a woman experiences significant amounts of facial hair, it is usually due to a hormonal imbalance…which is not normal, healthy or expected and can be avoided. estrogen is one of the hormones that people are not always as familiar with and its functions include hair growth, production, thickness, etc. Women with beautiful, healthy and shiny hair will usually have acceptable levels of progesterone and estrogen, both of which can be supplemented safely without prescriptions throughout and after menopause.

Shaving, waxing, sugaring, creaming and threading, like mom did, treats the symptom and not the underlying cause of facial hair. It also sets you up to need to repeat those treatments increasingly often for years to come. The University of Maryland Medical Center has defined hirsuitism as the presence of dark, coarse hair in unwanted amounts on the faces or bodies of women. Given that few of us want any extra facial or body hair, it is a common concern.

Androgens are known as the “male” hormones and as such, include testosterone. Coincidentally, that deeper voice that Grandma had that made her sound like a three pack a day smoker at times, was just as likely to be due to the same pesky hormone that gave her a five o’clock shadow…testosterone. It’s just ironic to consider that the hair on your scalp could easily begin to thin at approximately the same time your face shows unexpected hair growth and preventing both is crucial to your self-esteem and appearance.

Low-gylcemic foods are also helpful when managing blood sugar levels, which relates to insulin, which is, as discussed elsewhere, a hormone…which also links to the safe use of other hormones. In this context, it is best to look at your overall health and then identify specific concerns. Certain supplements, such as Vitex for overall hormone balancing and Saw Palmetto, which specifically targets those troublesome androgens.

As always, it is a good idea to slowly introduce one supplement at a time and to allow time for changes to occur. Although it may seem frustrating, menopause and perimenopause does not occur overnight and therefore it is not likely that you will fix all of the problems overnight either.

Final Tidbits You Know But May not Think About

Unfortunately, it is often very challenging to find a traditional medical care provider who is familiar with AND willing to recommend herbal options for managing menopause. That may require you to seek our alternative physicians and obviously, the most cost-effective choice is often to educate yourself in order to make good decisions.

It should be pointed out that in general, hormones prescribed through a physician or clinic and supplements are often an all-or-nothing agreement. That means that you will have to choose one or the other. Fortunately, if you have already began taking prescription and you have changed your mind, you do have the option of doing so. The reverse is also true.

Finally, you should consult with your physician, whether that person is a regular or alternative physician, before stopping any prescription medication. They may also be able to recommend appropriate steps for detoxing from medication. It is absolutely crucial and can be very dangerous to start, stop or change any prescription medication without medical advice. Fortunately, it is easier to buy a few supplements to take charge of your own health, assuming that you are new to treating menopausal symptoms.

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