Sometime between the ages of 45-55, most women begin their transition into menopause. Every woman experiences a unique journey. Some women will have no symptoms whatsoever other than the absence of their period, but for many women, symptoms range from hot flashes and weight gain to mood swings and hair loss.

Ironically, menopause only lasts one day. The term refers to the day you haven’t had a period for 12 months in a row. Up to that point in time you’ve been treading through perimenopause, the time leading up to menopause along with the year after. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services women may experience one or more of these symptoms:

  • Hot flashes (sudden rush of heat in upper body)
  • Night sweats (hot flashes while you sleep)
  • Trouble sleeping through the night (with or without night sweats)
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood changes
  • Trouble focusing, forgetfulness, feeling confused
  • Hair loss or thinning on your head
  • More hair growth on your face

As if they symptoms aren’t enough, the lowered estrogen levels (by the time a woman reaches menopause, her estrogen levels may drop 40-60 percent) from perimenopause impact the body in multiple ways such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Increased wrinkling of the skin
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Poor brain function and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Many women seek relief from the barrage of symptoms. Prior to 2002, about 30 percent of women took Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) believing it would not only relieve symptoms but also prevent heart disease. However, this therapy stopped being recommended as study results came out showing the ‘hormone therapy’ not only significantly increased the risk of breast cancer, but heart disease, stroke, blood clots, and dementia. Even the FDA released a statement pointing out that the risks of HRT exceeded the benefits. The critically important thing to appreciate here is that the study used ‘synthetic’ hormones, which aren’t really hormones at all in the true sense of the word. They are chemical imposters. UFortunately, after the release of the dangers of Premarin and synthetic progestins, the number of women taking synthetic HRT drugs dropped by half. In 2003, just one year after the study results came out and millions of women stopped HRT, breast cancer rates had fallen by 7 percent. In other words, we had about 14,000 fewer cases of breast cancer that year alone!

Many experts recommend natural, bioidentical hormones as a safe alternative to synthetic varieties. Bioidentical hormones, typically produced by a compounding pharmacist, are chemically identical to hormones in your body. In 2009 after Oprah Winfrey announced bioidentical hormones greatly improved her menopause symptoms they received widespread media attention. Along with lifestyle changes bioidentical hormones might help relieve symptoms. For this reason, ask your doctor if bioidentical hormones are a good choice for your relief.

A healthy lifestyle has been proven to make a dramatic impact on menopausal symptoms. These strategies are your first line of defense, and can be put into action before symptoms even begin.

  • Eat well, avoid sugar and trans fat and focus on whole foods
  • Vitamin D, ask your doctor about supplementing
  • Ease stress, incorporate relaxation and an enjoyable activity into your daily routine
  • Exercise, you’ll have fewer symptoms plus the added benefits of losing body fat and maintaining bone mass
  • Restful Sleep, create a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Bioidentical hormones

You do not have to suffer in silence or feel that menopause means the end of your vim and vigor. You can utilize healthy lifestyle changes, natural help from your doctor and a positive attitude to help you relieve perimenopausal symptoms and enhance your well-being.