Hormone Balancing for the Perimenopausal Woman
Like many things in life, you don’t really know how good you have it until you start to lose it. For many women in their late forties that knowledge begins about three years before their periods actually end. In this perimenopausal time they may begin to experience aches and pains in their joints. Their sleep quality worsens, and they notice their memory doesn’t work as well. Some are just more irritable, while others begin to experience crying jags and anxiety. For some it slides into full blown depression. Since the onset is usually insidious, most don’t associate it with their hormones until menopause actually hits.
It doesn’t have to be that way. I recommend salivary hormone testing which is accurate, inexpensive and fairly easily to do. It can give a wealth of information about many different components of the hormone system all of which are needed to act together in order to form a harmonious whole. While most people know that falling estrogen levels are responsible for hot flashes, the symptoms are worse in those who already have stressed adrenal systems. And for many, progesterone is actually the key to increasing comfort, losing weight and priming cells to become more receptive to the other hormones the body is producing, such as from the thyroid.
Most prescriptions written today (like Premarin-which is derived from horses) are clearly not bio-identical. They do not come close to matching the chemical structure of human hormones and are known to cause side effects. Self treatment with progesterone cream can also have unintended consequences. Transdermal applications of these gels and creams causes an excess buildup of hormones in the subcutaneous fat cells. They begin to spill back out into the blood stream resulting in overdosing of the free hormone level. This can cause an increase in free cortisol levels resulting in more depression, severe anxiety, weight gain, and insulin resistance.
My goal is to prevent these reactions by using sublingual progesterone, monitoring free hormone levels with saliva testing, and remaining alert and aware to the various problems that can arise. Additionally, I may include nutritional enhancement of liver and gallbladder function. This helps to maximize the body’s ability to metabolize and eliminate excessive hormones.
With our individual uniqueness, I have learned that each of us have different preferences and needs. Some of us will lean toward herbal or homeopathic remedies, while others prefer bio-identical solutions. The main thing is to offer as many natural options as I can to help my patients in recovering their health. It’s important for me to match the patient with their individual needs, philosophies, and bio-chemistry, thus helping to contribute toward a successful outcome.
Mary Ackerley MD, MD(H), ABIHM is a board certified psychiatrist specializing in hormone replacement, depression, anxiety and natural weight loss.
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