Although aging is a privilege, it doesn’t always feel that way. Each gender struggles in its own way with changes that inevitably occur over the years. For women, ancient fears and taboos still affect the way people think about “unspoken” topics, particularly menopause. Inaccurate terms such as “change of life” make this natural course of events sound dire and beyond a woman’s control. As we recognize World Menopause Month in October, the time is right to debunk old myths and focus instead on the various ways in which women can control this natural transition in their lives.
Menopause typically begins in the late 40s to early 50s and usually lasts a few years. During the menopausal transition, the body’s production of estrogen and progesterone, two hormones made by the ovaries, varies greatly. As a result, many women experience hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, irritability, and tiredness. The symptoms can be minor and even unnoticeable for some women and debilitating at times for others.
The good news is that there are effective ways to minimize the symptoms of menopause and help women experience the transition as simply another natural stage in life.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Gaining weight during menopause may be the result of hormonal changes, a slowing metabolism, an inactive lifestyle, genetics or some combination of these factors. Nonetheless, it is usually controllable with a routine of eating well and working out. Shedding the pounds and keeping them off will not only help you physically, but it can also make you feel happy about how you look and what you’ve accomplished. In addition to reducing the risk of serious diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, maintaining a healthy weight can minimize menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.
Increase your vitamin intake.
The question, however, is how do you know that you’re getting enough of the essential vitamins your body needs? For an increasing number of active, health-conscious women, vitamin injections and IV nutrient therapies are the answer. Custom blends of minerals, vitamins, and amino acids, including vitamin D and calcium, are quickly absorbed and activated to enhance energy and improve health.
Avoid trigger foods.
Foods with added sugars and processed carbs, in addition to alcohol, caffeine, hot spices, and salt, can elicit symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, poor sleep, and mood swings. These “triggers” can be even more disruptive when consumed at night. It’s a good idea to keep a “symptom diary” of what you eat each day and a corresponding description of how you feel. If you feel jumpy after drinking a cup of coffee or get hot flashes after eating a meatball sub, it’s probably a good idea to replace those triggers with foods and beverages that make you feel healthy.
Hormone replacement therapy
The decline in estrogen production during menopause disrupts the cyclical patterns of estrogen and progesterone of childbearing years and causes the symptoms that women feel. While the importance of maintaining a healthy weight, getting the vitamins your body needs, and avoiding trigger foods should not be underestimated, the fastest and most effective way to control the disruptive symptoms of menopause is bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.
Bioidentical hormones are carefully derived from suitable plants and designed to mimic the function and structure of natural human hormones, which is why they are called bioidentical. A regimen of BHRT reduces symptoms, boosts energy, increases libido, and improves overall mood.
Although menopause brings changes, it does not have to feel life-changing. As with each new chapter of your life, the key to your well-being lies in knowing that you are in control.
Dr. Tom Macek is the medical director at Method Health, a health optimization medical facility in Fort Lauderdale.