The record breaking temperatures that we’ve been enduring here in the Triangle have most of us racing for the fans or the air conditioning vents. None of us, young or old, have been able to escape it without the help of ice cold drinks and a lot of time indoors. But what if the feeling of intense heat continues in the cool of the evening? Do you find yourself heading for the ice cube tray at 3:00 in the morning? Is it possible that you are beginning to experience some of the symptoms of the dreaded “M” word?
Menopause. The change of life. Descriptors that used to signal a woman’s aging and, for some, invoked images of rapidly fading beauty and the subsequent loss of sexual appeal. None of this is true, of course, but in one percent of the population, menopause begins prior to age forty five, with some experiencing this natural process significantly earlier than this. Whether you are young, or middle-aged, menopausal symptoms are the same. Let us take a closer look at the symptoms themselves, the risks, the causes and the variety of treatment options available.
For some women, the onset of menopause is brought on abruptly by medical treatment, such as chemotherapy or a hysterectomy which involves the removal of hormone producing ovaries. For others, the first signs of an early menopause onset can be the inability to conceive or infrequent menstrual periods. There can be hot flushes, fatigue, difficulty sleeping and a host of other changes. For women who go through menopause prior to the age of forty five, symptoms can be far more pronounced. As always, a visit to your physician is a must. If it is discovered that you are, indeed, experiencing menopausal symptoms, there are a variety of treatment plans to help ease your symptoms, as well as reduce the long term health effects that are associated with it’s early onset, particularly the heightened risk of osteoporosis.
There are a great many natural and alternative treatments available, as well as ones that are prescribed. Most involve hormone replacement. Bioidentical Hormone Therapy is the use of man made hormones, and there are several FDA approved products that may be prescribed by your physician. Other treatments involve the use of herbal “remedies”, such as black cohash, wild yam, soy and valerian root, all falling under the heading of Phytoestrogens. Simply put, they are plant based substances that are thought to replicate the estrogen that is lost with the onset of menopause and help manage some of the symptoms, particularly hot flushes. But seek professional advice before you embark on a self strategized treatment plan, as some of these natural remedies have serious side effects if taken with different forms of medication. In North Carolina, HRC Medical specializes in the management of menopausal symptoms and have offices in both Raleigh and Greensboro. Check their extensive website for a more detailed overview of menopause symptoms and treatment alternatives. The “M” word? Please! With a bit of medical help and a few diet and lifestyle changes, you will remain the active, desirable, symptom free and fabulous woman you’ve always been. Trust me. I speak from experience!