ESTROGEN AND MENOPAUSE: THE HORMONE TRADEOFF
For women, living with an estrogen high is sadly followed by a low. We encounter this during our cycle, and frankly after living half our lives with a menstruation cycle, we would imagine that menopause would bring with it some much needed relief.
Honestly, it’s a tradeoff… new for the old!
Adiós, cramps…. Hola, hot flashes…
Au revoir, headaches… Bonjour, night sweats…
Aloha, Mood Swings…because they tend to stick around!
Unfortunately, your reproductive system moving into retirement does not necessarily mean your health side effects follow suit.
What is at the root of all these unwelcome changes? Your hormones!
We know by now that our reproductive system and all things related are governed by the hormones estrogen and progesterone. The interplay between the two causes our menstrual cycles, and with the reproductive system going into retirement, the production of estrogen and progesterone slows down. This typically happens between the ages of 45 and 55 for most, or around the age when women go into menopause.
Without a reproductive system to support, the slow decline of estrogen causes several changes throughout your body:
Brain and Nervous System: You may experience any or all these physical and emotional symptoms, like mood swings, loss of memory, hot flashes, irritability, fatigue, night sweats, depression, and anxiety.
Urinary System: You will find the lining of your urethra becoming drier and thin and, overall, less elastic. The loss in elasticity causes incontinence and more frequent urinary tract infections.
Vagina: As with the urethra, the vagina too will display signs of becoming dryer, the skin becoming thinner and the vaginal tissues losing its elasticity in general. This sometimes causes inflammation, irritation, discomfort, and sex without lubrication is painful.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM IN MENOPAUSE?
The identifiable milestone for menopause is one complete year without a period. Things don’t go back to the way they were before and some adjustment to life without a period is required. For an unfortunate few of us, symptoms of menopause can linger a lifetime.
On the other hand, low estrogen levels can cause numerous other health concerns. With low estrogen, the loss of bone mass speeds up, opening up a risk of lower bone density resulting in osteopenia or osteoporosis. The risk of heart attack increases, as does the risk of strokes and other heart related health concerns. Often the foods we love too (like sugar, salt, coffee) can expose us to complications.
You will need to work closely with your OB/GYN to manage any symptoms that are causing extreme discomfort, and really work on your vaginal health at this time.
MENOPAUSE TREATMENT: SIMPLE LIFESTYLE CHANGES
Many symptoms can be managed if not eased, by consciously adapting some healthy changes in your daily routine. A healthy diet because you are what you eat, exercise, specifically yoga for your yoni, which will all amount to a healthy boost to your overall health.
Pay special attention to foods that are rich in estrogen, which will supplement the deficit, and these are plant based natural ways to elevate your hormone level, which you likely already eat, but can now consciously include more of into your diet.
- Dried Fruits and or ripe fruits such as: Oranges, peaches, strawberries, and apricots
- Vegetables like carrots, kale, celery, yams, and alfalfa sprouts
- Soy based products like tofu
- Lentils and beans
- Olives and olive oils
- Flax and sesame seeds
- Certain herbs like thyme, sage, and turmeric
MENOPAUSE HOT FLASHES
Hot flashes become too hot to handle and severe, as it can with all the other symptoms of menopause, doctors may encourage Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and include a mix of other prescription drugs, antidepressants, anti seizures, blood pressure medication to alleviate severe symptoms.
Estrogen replacement pills: can resolve troublesome symptoms and lower the risk of osteoporosis. However, there is a slight increase in the risk of strokes, blood clots, swollen breasts, vaginal discharge, headache, and nausea and is hard on the liver.
Estrogen skin patches: a slow-release method, which incorporates all the above-mentioned positives as pills, with the added advantage of being convenient, by passing the liver, and reduces the risk of blood clots. Again, the patch has the very same risks at the pill, but with a notable increase in problems like cancer and strokes.
Estrogen creams, gels, and sprays: like patches, estrogen is absorbed through the skin, and has much of the benefits as a patch; as for risks, the same risk are noted, and management of the dose becomes a concern, as well as the risk of accidentally dosing others who come in to contact with you. It’s time consuming because you need to ensure the cream is properly absorbed and dry so as not to rub any off.
Estrogen vaginal suppositories, rings, and creams: These types of treatments are applied directly to the vaginal area and are designed for those who suffer from serious vaginal dryness, itchiness, burning or pain, and burning during sex. While these can in theory relieve the vaginal symptoms without over-exposing the entire body to estrogen, there is still the risk of stroke and cancer, specifically endometrial cancer, and long-term use is not recommended.
ALTERNATIVES TO ESTROGEN & HORMONES DURING MENOPAUSE
Sex, although uncomfortable to this point, may save your vagina. Sexual activity increases the blood flow to your vagina and helps keep the tissue in the area supple and lubricated. Which in turn helps preserve the vaginal lining and prevents shrinking.
Using a hormone free intimate revitalizing cream like REJUVENATE is particularly beneficial if you suffer from dryness because of menopause or perimenopause. Rejuvenate provides moisturizing and protective properties, without the risks posed by estrogen creams designed for the area. A pea sized amount of cream brings with it hydration, protection, plumping and has a tightening effect to the vulva and pubic skin. This will improve the feel of your intimate area and by virtue of feeling good, increase your libido too.
Rejuvenate is also safe to use in conjunction with menopause specific treatments, such as Premarin. Many women have found that incorporating Rejuvenate into their daily routine has helped them have less of a reliance on medications, and found relief with hormone free options.