Menopause is a normal part of the aging process. It is not a disease or a disorder, and in fact, many women find themselves relieved to be through the menopause experience. It means they no longer need to worry about things like getting their period, contending with painful cramps, or getting pregnant.
With all of that said, the menopause experience itself can sometimes be uncomfortable, consisting of some unwelcome physical and emotional side effects. Many women wonder if there are safe, natural ways to mediate these side effects, and the short answer is yes. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, or BHRT, can help women have a smoother, more pleasant menopause experience. We are pleased to offer BHRT female treatment options here at the Wisconsin Institute of Functional Medicine.
What is Menopause?
Before we discuss the benefits of hormone therapy for women, it may be helpful to review some menopause basics.
Menopause is a point roughly 12 months after a woman’s last period. The years leading up to menopause are sometimes known as perimenopause or the menopausal transition. This transitional season is usually marked by symptoms such as hot flashes or changes to the monthly cycle.
The menopausal transition looks different from one woman to the next, but typically begins sometime between age 45 and 55, and often lasts around seven years. During the transition, the production of bodily hormones (especially estrogen and progesterone) will fluctuate considerably.
While menopause usually happens as a result of the aging process, it can also be triggered by surgical interventions, most notably the hysterectomy.
What are the Symptoms of Menopause?
There are a number of symptoms associated with the menopausal transition called perimenopause, and they can vary from one woman to the next. With that said, some of the most common symptoms experienced when transitioning into menopause include:
- Irregular periods
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Sleeping problems
- Changes in mood
- Slowed metabolism, resulting in weight gain
- Thinning hair
- Dry skin
- Loss of breast volume
- Foggy thinking & loss of memory
- Increased anxiety
- Mood swings
- Low libido
What Role Do Hormones Play?
To understand the answer, it is important to first understand the role of hormones in the menopause transition.
Hormones are the body’s signaling molecules, orchestrating, directing, and regulating a long list of day-to-day functions. Indeed, hormones help to govern everything from growth to sleep cycles to sexual function. And, they help to govern a woman’s transition into menopause.
Specifically, the menopausal transition is marked by fluctuations in progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen, three hormones produced in the ovaries. These hormones become unbalanced and eventually start to decrease. Rapid fluctuations and sharp decreases are what ca
use the various unwelcome symptoms of menopause, but by keeping those hormones in greater balance, it is possible to reduce symptoms.
This is what hormone replacement therapy is all about, and it is a key reason why functional medicine holds so much promise for women as they enter their menopausal transition.
Understanding the Value of Female BHRT Treatments
Sometimes called natural hormone therapy, BHRT helps restore balance to the body’s hormone levels, particularly when the body is unable to produce sufficient hormone levels or maintain an optimal balance.
Hormone supplements can be administered in a number of ways, including through pills, topical creams, implantation under the skin, and injections. Many functional medicine doctors prefer pellets, which allow for hormones to be released into the body gradually over time.
Bioidentical hormones differ from synthetic ones in that they boast a chemical structure that is identical to what is naturally produced by the human body; in other words, when you receive a bioidentical hormone supplement, your body will not be able to tell that there is anything “unnatural” about it. This means there is a lower risk of side effects and a lower risk that the hormones are rejected.
Female BHRT Treatments for Menopause Symptoms
When it comes to reducing the symptoms of menopause, hormone therapy for women is often a highly effective solution. With the use of bioidentical estrogen, testosterone,
and progesterone supplements, women can mitigate some of the most significant symptoms of the menopausal transition.
Specifically, a functional medicine approach grounded in BHRT can be used to reduce hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and migraines. Additionally, BHRT can minimize mood swings and prevent a loss of interest in sex. And, BHRT has been shown to be effective in minimizing weight gain.
There are also a number of aesthetic benefits associated with hormone replacement therapy. For example, estrogen supplements may slow the skin’s aging process, minimizing the development of wrinkles and fine lines while conserving hydration and elasticity.
For women who are going through the menopausal transition and wish for relief from their symptoms, a functional medicine approach may be highly beneficial. A good place to begin is by sitting down for a one-on-one consultation with your functional medicine doctor.
Talk with a Functional Medicine Doctor About BHRT
Hormone replacement therapy is not one-size-fits-all, and before you begin any kind of treatment, it is crucial to discuss the options with a qualified provider.
For one thing, this allows your functional medicine doctor to review your symptoms and your medical history and verify that BHRT is right for you. (Note that this process will often involve testing to determine your current hormone levels.) Your functional medicine doctor can also talk with you about the potential side effects of the treatment, ensuring you have clear expectations. Finally, a consultation will allow your functional medicine doctor to tailor your hormone therapy, ensuring it fully addresses your whole-body health concerns.
Schedule an Appointment to Discuss Hormone Therapy for Women
Hormone replacement therapy can be a safe, natural, and effective way to ease the menopausal transition, and reduce unwanted symptoms. If you live in Appleton, Green Bay, or the surrounding WI -area, and have questions about your eligibility for BHRT, we invite you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Page, a trusted functional medicine doctor. Contact the Wisconsin Institute of Functional Medicine to make an appointment with us.