Your hot flashes are treatable.
And so is your insomnia, your anxiety, your sexual health, and more…
Perimenopause and menopause are a time of your life where you are transitioning from having some of the highest levels of estrogen / progesterone in your life, to the lowest.
For some, this transition is easy, and no treatment is needed—and for others it proves to be one of the most challenging times of their lives. Women in perimenopause or menopause can feel like their bodies are their enemies even though they are doing “everything right.”
Your genetics play a major role in how this transition will look, or has been, for you. But there are numerous natural and hormonal prescription treatments that you can seek to calm any bothersome symptoms. Women seeking bioidentical hormones or more natural treatment options have come to the right place.
We’ll help you explore the options available to you via pharmaceuticals, lifestyle changes, herbs, and natural supplements.
Signs and symptoms of menopause
- Vasomotor symptoms: hot flashes and night sweats
- Fatigue in menopause
- Sleep disturbances: insomnia
- Cognitive changes including memory loss and brain fog
- Mood disorders including initial onset or worsening depression and anxiety
- Vulvovaginal atrophy (thinning of tissue) and vaginal dryness
- Urinary complaints: incontinence, frequency, urgency
- Sexual function changes- low/no libido, anorgasmic, slow arousal, pain with sex
- Weight gain
- Joint pain in menopause
- Muscle pain in menopause
- New onset of headaches or migraines in menopause
The most difficult aspect of menopause is really the 2-8 years prior to your last period, which is the time known as perimenopause.
When you hit menopause, you’ll have had no periods for a full year (without the use of medications to stop ovulation). The years preceding menopause is where things can get really messy and most of the symptoms arise. For most women, treatment using medications or natural herbs or supplements is only needed for 2-3 years.
Our preference is to treat as natural as possible, but when it’s safe for you we will prescribe bioidentical hormones to help you with this transition. The use of bioidentical hormones can ease the ups and downs of the hormonal shift in perimenopause. Herbs can do this too, so we’ll probably talk about the pros and cons of both.
When do most women go through menopause?
The median age in US for women to go through menopause is 52.54 years old. Menopause is confirmed when you have gone 1 year without a period, unrelated to any secondary causes such as birth control or pregnancy, and it is typically confirmed with checking your FSH levels on labs. If you have an FSH >25 for 2 consecutive months, and no periods for 1 year, then you are officially in menopause.
Early menopause is when you go into menopause prior to age 45.
Late menopause is when you go into menopause after age 54.
Premature menopause (or premature ovarian failure or insufficiency) is when you go into menopause prior to age 40.
How long will women typically use bioidentical hormones?
For most women in my practice, we’ll use bioidentical hormones for 2-3 years.
How long does natural medicine take to reduce hot flashes and night sweats?
If you are on the right treatment with herbs or bioidentical hormones, usually your symptoms are better in 2-7 days.
How long does perimenopause last?
Approximately 90% of women experience 4 to 8 years of menstrual cycle changes before natural menopause; changes can be subtle and often involve some change in the heaviness of your cycle (amount of blood lost) and the frequency of your period.
What are some natural treatment for menopause?
Botanicals: Women who have hot flashes or mood changes find that they feel dramatic improvements within 2-7 days of starting plant/herbal extracts.
Nutrition: nutrition focuses on osteoporosis prevention and general nutritional guidelines for healthier dietary habits.
Exercise: Cardiovascular exercise (goal of 150 minutes a week) is important in reducing hot flashes and night sweats. Weight-bearing exercise is also important in the prevention of osteoporosis.
Counseling and Lifestyle support: Women who have better sleep hygiene and quality of sleep, who don’t smoke cigarettes, eat a healthier diet, have lower alcohol consumption, and get some regular exercise/movement usually transition through perimenopause with less symptoms. This is not always true though, as your genetics play a large role in your menopausal symptoms. For genetics you are predominantly influenced by your maternal side, so looking to the experience of menopause in the females on your mother’s side will give you an idea as to what your transition will look like.
Should I start bioidentical hormones for menopausal symptoms?
If you are still in perimenopause or are within 1 year of the onset of menopause then bioidentical hormones are considered a safe option for managing your menopausal symptoms.
If you are in menopause and have not experienced premature ovarian failure or early menopause, and it’s been more than 2 years since your last period, then bioidentical hormones are a higher risk for you to start. There is a higher risk of heart disease in menopausal women starting hormones if it has been more than 2 years since their last period.
Do hormones cause cancer?
Taking hormones to manage menopausal symptoms, even if they are bioidentical, can increase the replication of malignant (cancer) cells if the cancer is hormone receptor positive. Hormones do not cause cancer, but they can make it more aggressive if you have a gynecological cancer such as breast or ovarian cancer. For this reason, it’s best to reserve the use of hormones to the smallest dose for the shortest period of time.
Does soy cause breast cancer?
Three large meta-analysis studies from 2009, 2016, and 2018 now confirm that soy does not cause or contribute to gynecological (breast) or prostate cancer.
This is about putting you back in charge of your health, giving you the tools to take control, and giving you the knowledge and power to know what helps you feel like the best version of yourself.
We are menopause specialists and will help you find safe & effective solutions to manage your perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms.
We promise to listen, come up with a comprehensive treatment plan, and to give you one of the best experiences you have ever had at a doctor’s office.
Have more questions?
Dr. Sara Norris is a Naturopathic Doctor serving California & Wisconsin residents (see our FAQs page for a list of all states we can see patients in) specializing in women’s health, hormones, skin, digestive health, and pediatrics. Dr. Norris offers in person visits at her Wisconsin based practice, and telemedicine for residents of other states.