So according to biologically-scheduled programming, you’re peri-menopausal or on the brink of menopause (it takes 12 period-free months to join true menopausal varsity). If you are suffering from unexplained itching and inexplicable 3 a.m. awakenings, no worries. You don’t necessarily have body lice, are haunted by your great aunt, or losing your mind!
Your hormone balance is simply shifting. And symptoms can actually start as early as four years prior to full blown menopause.
Waves of rising estrogen levels are controlled by hormones released by the pituitary gland, the follicle-stimulating (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). In perimenopause, this pattern is disturbed. LH and FSH remain high when the follicles are not producing enough estrogen to shut them down. Waves of estrogen may spike higher than normal, or drop at lightning speed, leading to hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, irregular bleeding, sleep and mood disturbances.
When dealing with hot flashes, avoid triggers like hot liquids, spicy foods and tropical temperatures.
Consider an SSRI (serotonin reuptake inhibitor) such as Effexor (venlafaxine) or Prozac (fluoxetine) as higher levels of serotonin help with menopausal symptoms.
If you’re suddenly battling vaginal dryness, use a vaginal moisturizer or lubricant but don’t avoid sex. Sexual activity in menopause improves vaginal tone and helps maintain the acidic environment that protects against urinary tract infections, which may increase in frequency during menopause.
Develop good sleep hygiene. Begin to wind down an hour or so before bed and keep the bedroom under 68 degrees. Foods rich in tryptophan like milk, peanuts, or low-fat cheese lead to higher levels of serotonin which can help with sleep onset.
A WORD ABOUT HORMONE THERAPY…
Although hormone therapy can be highly effective in menopause, make sure you talk to a licensed professional. Excess estrogen can lead to blood clots and endometrial cancer if not appropriately prescribed. Low-dose estrogen is available by pill, patch, skin lotion, or gel, but must be dosed with progestin in those who still have a uterus. Lastly, always remember that there is usually a rainbow after the worst storm!
By DR. SABINA REBIS
The Model of Health