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Supplements to get you through menopause

3rd February 2020

From the time women enter puberty until the end of the last menstrual period, every woman is aware of the ebb and flow of constant hormonal changes in her body. This complex interplay of hormones continues until she reaches her late 40’s or early 50’s.

Symptoms of menopause

The regular cycling of these hormones begins to change as early as the mid-thirties and symptoms likely begin in the mid-forties as women begin the process known as peri-menopause. It is the time when levels of key hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone begin to fluctuate and are accentuated by declines in other hormones such as growth hormone, DHEA and thyroid. Peri-menopause continues until periods stop and the woman becomes menopausal.

Surgical menopause involves a woman suddenly entering menopause by surgical removal of the ovaries. It can happen at almost any age and without proper hormone replacement, symptoms of hormone deficiency will be quite severe.

Though treated as a disease by doctors, women know it as a natural and inevitable transition from one stage of life to another. Puberty marks the beginning of reproductive life — menopause marks the end.

During peri-menopause (known as “the change”), women will still have a menstrual cycle, although the cycle may become erratic and a woman may skip periods as hormone levels fluctuate. This is only one symptom of menopause. Other symptoms may include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Dryness and thinning of the skin and particularly in the vaginal area
  • Diminished Sex Drive and loss of sensitivity to stimulation
  • Hair Loss
  • Anxiety
  • Forgetfulness that may include an increase of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression and other mood changes
  • Symptoms also include the potential loss of bone density and increased risk of heart disease.

Loss of bone density is perhaps the greatest threat to long term health.

Our bones consist of cells that grow new bone tissue and cells that dissolve (re-absorb) old bone. This occurs continually throughout our lives. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone help our bodies absorb calcium from the intestinal tract. Estrogen slows the action of cells that cause bones to breakdown.

Progesterone and testosterone stimulate cells that build bone. During peri-menopause, as hormones decline, women can lose 1 to 6 percent of their bone mass each year and is most pronounced in areas of faster bone growth such as the spine.

Managing your hormone program

Your doctor will instruct you on how to manage your hormone replacement therapy. A typical approach would be similar to the following:

Early peri-menopause

During early peri-menopause, when the hormone top starts to wobble, you might do very well with a high-quality non-prescription Phyto-estrogen (see Estro-Flavone) and progesterone cream. As hormones continue to decline your body will probably tell you that hormones being provided by the non-prescription products are not adequate to relieve symptoms. At that point, it will be necessary to find a physician who can work with you and provide the necessary natural hormone prescriptions to replace hormones to a level that will relieve symptoms and achieve balance.

The process of hormone and supplement replacement in the various stages of peri-menopause might go as follows:

Phyto-Estrogen and progesterone cream

For peri-menopause. These would be non-prescription.

Estrogen/progesterone

There are menopause medications that contain estrogen and progesterone, such as Evorel and Elleste Solo (estrogen) and Elleste Duet (progesterone). For mid-peri-menopause. These require a prescription.

Estrogen, Progesterone & Testosterone

For late peri-menopause. Testosterone gel should not be used by women unless prescribed by a doctor. These medications are prescription-required and are sometimes prescribed "off label" for women during the menopause.

Over The Counter Menopause Supplements

The following supplements can be ordered over-the-counter and can be used throughout every phase of menopause.

Phyto-estrogens

Phyto-estrogens are available in most supplement shops. Remifemin is perhaps one of the best known.

Progesterone Cream

There are a number of these available over-the-counter and on the internet. Be sure it contains USP natural progesterone.

7-keto DHEA

Stress causes the body to release cortisol, a very destructive and ageing hormone. To help counter cortisol try 7-keto DHEA.

Indole-3-carbinol

An inexpensive hedge against breast cancer.

Indole-3-carbinol disrupts estrogen receptor-alpha dependent expression of insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor and insulin receptor substrate-1 and proliferation of human breast cancer cells.

In summary, there are many supplements that can help you deal with the symptoms of menopause. If you are suffering from hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, diminished sex drive, hair loss (as a woman) and are close to 40 years of age or older, consider talking to your doctor about menopause medication.