Menopause / Perimenopause
What is Menopause / Perimenopause?
Menopause is the normal transition in a woman’s life when her menstrual periods end, typically in her late 40s to early 50s. The ovaries are no longer releasing eggs and have also dramatically slowed hormone production. Perimenopause is the stage leading up to full menopause, as the ovaries gradually make less and less estrogen. Perimenopause usually starts in a woman’s 40s but can start as early as her 30s. A woman will still get periods during this time and can still get pregnant. While the average length of perimenopause is four years, it can actually vary from a few months to as long as ten years.
Surgery or damage to the ovaries can bring on menopause suddenly in younger women.
Menopause and Perimenopause SymptomsMenopause and Perimenopause have a wide range of symptoms. Not all women experience the same problems, and some women have no symptoms at all. You may have symptoms for a relatively long or short time period. For example, more than two-thirds of North American women get hot flashes, but some get them only for a year or two, while others can have them for decades.
- Worsening premenstrual symptoms
- Irregular periods
- Heavier or lighter periods
- Tender breasts
- Hot flashes – A brief sensation of heat that comes on suddenly, sometimes with facial flushing and sweating. Triggers include hot weather, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, spicy foods, tight clothing, and stress.
- Night sweats
- Trouble sleeping
- Bladder control problems – Including leakage when coughing or sneezing, urgency, or increasing frequency.
- Vaginal dryness – Which can cause discomfort during sex.
- Dry skin
- Emotional changes – Such as depression, anxiety, lack of motivation, irritability, and anger.
- Facial hair growth
- Difficulty concentrating and minor memory problems
- Lower sex drive
- Bone loss
- Other symptoms – Some women experience headaches, rapid heartbeat, joint and muscle aches, weight gain, or hair loss.
Causes of Menopause / Perimenopause
Menopause is not a disease. It’s a natural and necessary process; however, there is no need to suffer from menopause symptoms.
You are born with all the eggs you will ever have. As a baby, you probably started with 1-3 million eggs, but they die off over time. At menopause, you may have only 10,000 left, and those may not be as healthy as they once were. Meanwhile, as your ovaries age, they produce less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, the two key hormones controlling the female reproductive system. This natural decline in hormone production — especially estrogen — not only shuts down your fertility but unfortunately can affect your overall health.
Estrogen affects many parts of the body besides the uterus, including the blood vessels, heart, bone, breasts, urinary system, skin, and brain. Estrogen helps keep all of these organs and systems healthy and functioning at their best, so its loss is believed to be the cause of many menopause symptoms. At menopause, the ovaries also decrease their production of testosterone — a hormone involved with sex drive.
Your doctor will probably be able to diagnose perimenopause from your symptoms. While there are blood tests for hormone levels, they are often ineffective because your hormone levels are fluctuating widely during this time.
The first step in diagnosing menopause is a discussion with your doctor about your menstrual cycle. If you’ve gone a full year without a period, you’re typically considered to have gone through menopause. For many women, testing isn’t necessary. A blood test is available that measures levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) — a hormone produced by the pituitary gland that is a key player in preparing your body for pregnancy. However, this test can be misleading, especially early in menopause when your hormone levels are still rising and falling irregularly.
If you are having symptoms of Menopause / Perimenopause and your periods have been irregular or have stopped, talk to your doctor. There are other conditions that can cause some of these effects, which your doctor may want to rule out.
Menopause / Perimenopause Treatments
If your symptoms are mild or short-lived, you may not need treatment. However, if you do, hormone replacement can be effective in treating uncomfortable symptoms of menopause and perimenopause.
Some hormones that may be prescribed for you include estradiol (the strongest of the three forms of estrogen), estriol (another estrogen hormone), progesterone, testosterone, Biest and Triest (estrogen combos), and Pregnenolone and DHEA (precursors to hormones such as estrogen and testosterone).
How Belmar Can Help
Belmar compounds bioidentical hormones in a variety of dosage forms, strengths and combinations to help you feel more like yourself again. Dosage forms include injectable pellets, regular and sublingual tablets, and blended creams. We also dispense other medications that target specific issues like hair loss, dry skin, or low sex drive. We’re focused on ensuring your doctor has the right medication available to fit your specific needs so you can enjoy the best health and lifestyle possible.
If you are going through perimenopause or menopause, or are concerned about any of the symptoms on this page, contact us for more information and start a conversation with your doctor. Together, you can decide if a compounded prescription might be a good treatment for you.
Contact Belmar Pharma Solutions
If you’re a patient, we’re here to help you fill prescriptions or provide you the information you need to work with your doctor to help decide if a compounded prescription might be a good treatment for you.
Prescribers, for a complete formulary or access to our clinical resources fill out the form below and one of our Solutions Engineers will be in touch shortly. If you are new to compounding, you may also find our page on How to Write a Compounding Prescription helpful.
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