You can sense that there is an imbalance in your hormone levels. No matter how hard you train and how clean you eat you just can’t seem to lose that last 10-15 pounds around your abdomen. Your are waking up and experiencing insomnia for the first time in your life. Your menstrual cycles are coming every 2-3 weeks and the bleeding is very irregular. You are snapping at your spouse more often than you used to and walking around feeling irritable. There are days when you feel so hot and are sweating that you need to change your clothes. You have little to no interest in sex and when you do its painful because you’re experiencing vaginal dryness. You may even have hot flashes or night sweats. If i have just described you based on any one of these symptoms then welcome to perimenopause.
1. What causes the symptoms of Perimenopause?
The symptoms of Perimenopause are caused by the imbalance of circulating levels of hormones produced but he ovaries under the direction of the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Your ovaries primarily make estradiol (estrogen), progesterone and some testosterone. These three hormones have affects on every cell in the body so an imbalance in the 3 hormones can cause the symptoms above.
The primary imbalance we see in hormone levels is changes in progesterone as a result of not ovulating every month like normal. Ovulation occurs on day 14 of the menstrual cycle and is the process of the ovary producing a viable egg to get pregnant. If you do not ovulate then you do not produce the same amount of progesterone and as a result have an imbalance between circulating estradiol and progesterone levels. This is what causes the majority of symptoms in perimenopause.
2. What can I do to treat the hormone imbalance?
The first thing we do with women who are experiencing the symptoms of perimenopause is give them bio-identical progesterone to take either daily (at bedtime) or on days 14-28 of the menstrual cycle. Most women prefer to take progesterone daily because they feel so much better on it. Progesterone will generally reduce hot flashes and night sweats, is very calming and will get women sleeping soundly.
We then make sure that testosterone levels are optimal to help stimulate the sex drive and help reduce body fat and gain lean muscle. The most important thing women need to do during this period is exercise and eat as clean as possible. Cutting out sugar is a must if they want to get through this period of time without putting on 10-15 pounds of abdominal fat. Here is a great interview with Suzanne Somers about how to treat the symptoms of perimenopause. http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2013/11/im-too-young-for-this-the-natural-hormone-solution-to-enjoy-perimenopause/page-01
3. How long will perimenopause last?
This is going to be different for every women and will depend on their lifestyle, genetics and how well they take care of themselves. I have seen women who start with perimenopause in their late thirties and it persists into their early 50’s. But for most women this period will last 5 years or less and if treated appropriately will be very tolerable. Unfortunately conventional medicine is treating women with birth control pills or recommend partial or total hysterectomies because they have not been trained in prescribing bio-identical hormones.
The reality is that many women right now are experiencing these exact symptoms and are not getting the treatment they need.
The first step is to have your hormone levels checked in the blood by an expert in anti-aging medicine. You will then want to start taking progesterone either daily or in the second half of you menstrual cycle.
If you can then cut out 90% of the sugar from your diet and exercise regularly you can come through the other side feeling great and unscathed.
If you would like to schedule a consult with Dr. Sean Breen simply give us a call at 877-721-0047 and visit us on the web at www.DoctorBreen.com