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Menopause: "Just Deal With It?"
By Lauren Loya, M.D.

Too often women going through menopause are told to "just deal with it" or that "it's part of getting older." That sounds nice until you're the one going through menopause. Hormonal balance is key to a woman's overall health. Menopause presents different challenges as hormone deficiencies in one area can appear as excesses elsewhere. Menopausal symptoms can become prevalent as early as the mid-30s; although, they typically appear around the age of 50. During menopause, women can experience a number of symptoms, which may include hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, vaginal dryness, inability to reach orgasm, mood changes, and depression. Early onset of menopause can occur through hysterectomy, ovary removal and chemotherapy among other traumatic occurrences. By identifying the specific impact of menopausal symptoms through hormone testing (such as through saliva test) a knowledgeable provider can develop specific solutions for hormonal restoration.

While menopause is among the most common time for hormonal decline, women can experience hormone imbalances at any age. Prior to menopause, women may experience the symptoms of peri-menopause, which occurs from a decrease in the female sex hormones. Some of the symptoms experienced during peri-menopause may include migraines, irregular periods, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, low libido, sexual dysfunction, sleeping issues, and depression. Unfortunately many medical providers misdiagnose peri-menopausal symptoms and prescribe anti-depressants to their patients.

While hormones can decline at any age and lead to a broad range of symptoms that decrease the quality of life, Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) can help the symptoms related to hormone imbalances that occur during menopause, peri-menopause, or the reproductive years.

Some symptoms that can be improved with BHRT include:

Inability To Climax
Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are key players in the maintenance of circulation, nerve transmission, and cell division, and an imbalance of these hormones can easily lead to changes in sexual response.

Vaginal Dryness
Declining estrogen levels common to the menopausal years can dampen nerve impulses during sex, making women less sensitive to vibration and touch, and since estrogens increase blood flow to sexually sensitive areas, decreased levels can slow or diminish the arousal response.

Atrophy of the Vaginal Wall
Imbalances of estrogen and testosterone can cause dryness and thinning of vaginal tissue making intercourse uncomfortable or downright painful, which is an effect that does absolutely nothing for libido.

Lower Libido
The key to a normal sex drive is the right balance of estrogen to progesterone. An excess of these hormones blocks thyroid function, which inhibits libido. A balance stabilizes mood and supports thyroid function, which enhances libido. Significantly, progesterone is also a precursor to estrogen and testosterone, and women need it in steady supply for optimal sexual pleasure. Testosterone and DHEA also have a major impact on sex drive.

Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
Imbalances in estrogen can cause the signals that go to the hypothalamus to get crossed and cause temperature fluctuations. Estrogen supplementation can help allow the hypothalamus, which is the body's temperature control center, to adequately set and maintain body temperature.

Mood Swings
Women experiencing hormonal ups and downs can experience increased anxiety, nervousness, anger, or depression. Estrogen helps the brain's neurotransmitters to transmit signals of calmness, and when it is deficient, brain chemistry can be negatively affected. Balanced hormones are key to maintaining healthy moods.

Take the first step by getting tested for hormonal imbalances to determine if a problem exists. It is important to work with physicians who specialize in natural hormone therapy/BHRT and who use comprehensive testing methods such as saliva testing. Get on the road to feeling like yourself again!

Dr. Lauren Loya of the Hormone Restoration Center, can be reached at (412) 432-7909 or visit www.hormonecenter.net.

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