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Integrative Family Health Clinic in Bolton and the Greater Caledon Area
4-22 Simona Drive
Bolton, ON

5 Things You Should Know About Menopause

Menopause, a pivotal life transition, marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles and signifies the conclusion of her reproductive years. The menopausal shift gives rise to a spectrum of physical and emotional changes, ranging from hot flashes and night sweats to mood swings and changes in bone density. 

Beyond the physiological aspects, menopause also carries psychological and emotional dimensions, impacting a woman’s sense of identity and well-being. Navigating this transformative period involves understanding the diverse manifestations of menopausal symptoms, exploring available treatment options, and embracing lifestyle adjustments to promote overall health and resilience. 

What is Menopause?

Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s life that occurs when the ovaries stop releasing eggs and producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone. 

There are a few phases to menopause, starting with perimenopause and ending in postmenopause: 

Perimenopause

Perimenopause refers to the transitional stage leading up to menopause, typically beginning in a woman's 40s but sometimes starting earlier.

During perimenopause, hormone levels, particularly estrogen and progesterone, begin to fluctuate, leading to irregular menstrual cycles and various symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, fatigue, and changes in libido.

Perimenopause can last for several years, and the duration varies from woman to woman. It ends when a woman has not had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months, marking the onset of menopause.

Menopause

Menopause marks the end of a woman's menstrual cycles and fertility. It is defined as the absence of menstruation for 12 consecutive months.

The average age of natural menopause in women is around 51, but it can occur earlier or later. Factors such as genetics, smoking, and certain medical conditions can influence the timing of menopause.

Postmenopause

Postmenopause refers to the stage of life after menopause has been reached. It begins the day after a woman has gone 12 months without a menstrual period.

During postmenopause, hormone levels, particularly estrogen, remain at consistently low levels. As a result, women may continue to experience symptoms such as vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and mood changes.

Postmenopausal women are at increased risk of certain health conditions, including osteoporosis (due to decreased bone density), cardiovascular disease, and cognitive changes.

Understanding the stages of menopause can help women navigate the physical and emotional changes associated with menopause and make informed decisions about their health and well-being.

Hormones in Menopause

The hormonal changes during menopause involve more than just a decrease in estrogen. The interplay of hormones from various glands, including the thyroid, pancreas, adrenals, and ovaries, is intricate and dynamic. It is crucial for your provider to understand how each hormone interacts and compensates for one another in order to help you achieve hormonal balance during menopause.

 

Here are some key hormonal glands that your healthcare provider may consider:

  1. Thyroid gland – Thyroid disorders can mimic peri/menopausal symptoms such as weight gain, mood changes, fatigue, hair loss and sleep disturbance.
  2. Ovaries – Ovaries are the primary reproductive organs responsible for producing estrogen, progesterone, and small amounts of testosterone. During menopause, ovarian function declines, leading to a decrease in estrogen and progesterone production.
  3. Pancreas – The pancreas produces insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and may influence weight management during menopause.
  4. Adrenals – Chronic stress during menopause can lead to dysregulation of adrenal function, resulting in symptoms such as fatigue, mood swings, and sleep disturbances. The adrenals are responsible for the stress response and take over production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone in menopause.

Five Things You Need To Know About Hormones in Menopause

Here are five ways that hormones can impact your health during the different phases of menopause: 

  1. Hormones Fluctuate During Perimenopause:
    Perimenopause is characterized by fluctuating hormone levels, particularly estrogen and progesterone. These fluctuations can lead to irregular periods, hot flashes, mood swings, and other symptoms as the body adjusts to changing hormone levels. During this phase, testing for hormones can be a moving target. Collaborating with your healthcare professional can help avoid the trial-and-error approach when experimenting with various products and supplements.

  2. Low Hormone Levels in Postmenopause:
    After menopause, women experience a significant decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels, leading to various changes in the body. These changes can include decreased bone density, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and changes in cognitive function.
  3. Hormones Impact Bones, the Brain, and the Cardiovascular System:
    The decrease in hormone levels postmenopause can have profound effects on bone health, brain function, and cardiovascular health. Estrogen plays a crucial role in maintaining bone density, so low estrogen levels can increase the risk of osteoporosis. Additionally, estrogen has neuroprotective effects and helps regulate the cardiovascular system, so its decline can affect brain function and cardiovascular health.
  4. Menopause is More Than Just About Estrogen and Progesterone:
    Menopause involves a complex interplay of hormones beyond just estrogen. While estrogen levels decline, other hormones such as progesterone, testosterone, and hormones produced by the adrenal glands also play a role in menopausal symptoms and overall health. Understanding how these hormones interact and compensate for each other is essential for managing menopausal symptoms and promoting overall well-being.
  5. Balancing Hormones Isn’t A One-Size-Fits-All:
    Achieving hormone balance during menopause involves more than just replacing estrogen. It requires a comprehensive approach that considers the interactions between various hormones and addresses individual symptoms and health concerns. This may involve lifestyle changes, hormone therapy, nutritional support, and other interventions tailored to each woman’s needs.

By understanding the complexities of menopause and its impact on hormone levels, women can take proactive steps to manage symptoms, support their overall health, and navigate this important life transition more effectively.

How Naturopathic Doctors Help

Naturopathic doctors (NDs) take a holistic approach to assess and treat menopausal symptoms and related health concerns. They consider the interconnectedness of various bodily systems and focus on addressing the underlying causes of symptoms rather than merely managing them.

Menopause is a significant life transition that can bring physical, emotional, and psychological changes for women. Naturopathic medicine offers holistic approaches to assess and treat menopausal symptoms, emphasizing individualized care, lifestyle modifications, natural therapies, and mind-body interventions. If you’re experiencing menopausal symptoms or approaching menopause, consult with a licensed naturopathic doctor to explore safe and effective treatment options tailored to your needs and goals.

Get started with Dr. Salwan, ND or one of our NDs at Wildflower Health and Wellness today.

four stages of menopause wildflower health and wellness clinic

Is This Menopause? The Stages of Menopause

Menopause is a milestone of women’s health. But how do you know if you’re going through menopause (perimenopause) or have passed it (post-menopause)? Learn more about how menopause is diagnosed and how you can support yourself through this phase naturally.

Quick Facts

      • There are four stages that women go through: Pre-menopause, perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause
      • Menopausal symptoms occur as a natural shift in hormone production with age
      • There are ways to support your hormones¬†naturally to promote a smooth transition from one hormonal phase to the next¬†

What are the female hormones and what do they do?

There are two major female hormones: 

Hormone Produced By Function
Estrogen Mainly by the ovaries, to a lesser extent by the adrenal glands and fat cells Effects include regulating the menstrual cycle; maintaining: muscles and connective tissue, heart and blood vessels, brain, bones, skin, and hair.
Progesterone Mainly by the corpus luteum in the ovaries, to a lesser extent by the adrenal glands Prepares the uterine lining for pregnancy; maintaining pregnancy; and supporting thyroid function, mood, and breastmilk production.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine, Cleveland Clinic

The stages of menopause

There are generally four stages of female hormones in a woman’s lifetime:¬†

      1. Premenopause: This is the period of time when both estrogen and progesterone are sufficient in levels to produce regular menstrual cycles and to support a potential pregnancy.
      2. Perimenopause: This means “around menopause,” which begins when periods become less regular, typically around a woman’s 40s.¬†
      3. Menopause: This stage starts from the last menstrual period until the post-menopausal stage, 12 months later. This stage is typically when menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and sleeplessness are most intense. 
      4. Post-menopause: This stage comes after 12 consecutive months without a period. 

What happens during menopause?

During perimenopause, the ovaries down-shift their production of estrogen and progesterone. When levels of these hormones are no longer optimal to produce a regular menstrual cycle, menopause starts, and so can the symptoms of menopause.

Typical symptoms that occur during menopause as a result of these hormonal changes are: 

      • hot flashes
      • sleeplessness
      • low energy
      • low libido
      • vaginal dryness
      • night sweats
      • weight gain
      • bloating¬†
      • mood changes

Although these symptoms are¬†common, they’re¬†not normal, and there are ways to support your hormonal transition without experiencing intense symptoms that disrupt your day-to-day life.¬†

Treatment options for menopause

Treatment starts with proper assessment of your hormone levels, understanding your body’s ideal hormone levels, and how to manage your symptoms as you go through menopause.¬†

Depending on your case, your healthcare provider may suggest one or a combination of the following:

      • Hormone replacement therapy
      • Lifestyle modifications
      • Stress management
      • Natural remedies, such as botanical medicines
      • Other supportive therapies, such as acupuncture

You don't have to go through menopause or perimenopause alone.

Wildflower clinicians are here to support you through a comfortable transition through menopause.