Menopause - What's happening to me?

Victoria Dobbie's picture
I discuss the importance of hormonal balance and your quality of life. Understand & manage your menopausal symptoms with BHRT.1

Within 10 days I noticed results, it was really quick. My stress levels dropped, my anxiety dropped, my energy went up, my sleep was better. I would absolutely without a doubt recommend BHRT to perimenopausal women, and if you’re unsure how to go about it I’d recommend coming in to talk to Victoria.” Heather (current patient)

During peri-menopause and menopause, it can be surprisingly difficult to see that all the symptoms you’re experiencing are related, especially when they arise separately over months or even years. The average woman has eight different menopause-related symptoms. But she may never connect the dots to realize that the underlying cause behind all of these confusing symptoms is hormonal imbalance.

Menopause symptoms can be confusing

Women call us every day for help with their difficult symptoms. Many begin by saying, “I know I’m not in menopause because I don’t have hot flushes or night sweats.” But when we ask for specifics about their symptoms, e.g. “Are you fatigued and irritable? Is your thinking fuzzy?”, it can be a clarifying moment. Often we hear back, “Well, yes, I am tired and snappy. Yes, my thinking is muddled.” and one that’s so common, “Yes, I’ve definitely gained weight." While these women (and you) may not realize it at first, these are all menopause-related symptoms.

Hormonal imbalance causes peri-menopause and menopause symptoms

As women our hormone levels change throughout our lives and for the most part our bodies have the ability to adjust. However, the shifts in your sex hormones may become too extreme or happen too quickly for your body to manage them, especially when you’re in peri-menopause and beyond.

You can then experience wide-ranging symptoms from; fatigue and moodiness, to vaginal dryness and joint discomfort, to low libido and fuzzy thinking. You may just think these are signs of worsening PMS, but in fact it’s the start of your menopause transition.

Imbalances and fluctuations occur in many types of hormones.

Many GPs when seeking to address their patients’ menopause symptoms will only look at their changes to the hormone oestrogen. But finding real relief is not that simple. Your hormones behave more like a big orchestra than separate instruments. We know that specific fluctuations in oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone can determine whether or not you develop symptoms. But it’s more a question of balance than of specific hormone levels and that is what we offer, personalized hormonal harmony.
 
Finally, it’s not just your sex hormones that can affect how you feel; insulin levels, thyroid function and adrenal health are all intertwined with your sex hormones too. That’s because all your body’s hormones affect one another. This explains why the conventional approach to menopause and symptom relief is often too simplistic to be effective.

Dr Victoria at Menopause conferenceWhy I have an indepth understanding in treating menopause

I trained in bio-identical hormone replacement two years ago with the famous Marion Gluck academy which has given me the skills to look at all the female hormones and how they should be harmonious. I have attended the Menopause Skills Course run by the British Menopause Society to which I am a registered member. I am a peri-menopausal woman, with my own symptoms. Bio-identical hormones have restored my love of life, giving me energy, enthusiasm and a drive to help other women. 

The 15 most common symptoms of peri-menopause & menopause

1. Irregular periods: The most important question to answer about your period is - is it irregular for you? In terms of the length of your cycle or heaviness of your period. Changes in your period are can be the first signal that your sex hormones are beginning to shift in peri-menopause.

2. Hot flushes and night sweats: Hot flushes can strike once a day, or up to 20 times or more, causing intense flush of heat along with increased heart rate, dizziness, headache and even claustrophobia or the feeling of being trapped. They can be debilitating, especially when they occur at night and cause sleeplessness.

3. Sleep difficulties: You may toss and turn restlessly as you try to sleep, or wake up regularly in the middle of the night. This insomnia is can be caused by a progesterone deficiency in peri-menopause or menopause.

4. Weight gain: Changes to your weight or body shape are another noticeable symptom. Shifting hormones tell your body to store fat in the abdominal area, even if you’ve never had a weight problem before. This menopause and peri-menopause weight gain can be difficult to lose even with diet and exercise.

5. Fatigue/loss of energy: Not getting enough sleep may make you feel tired, but exhaustion or crashing fatigue can occur even when you get a lot of rest, leaving you feeling physically and emotionally drained.

6. Forgetfulness or fuzzy thinking: One of the most alarming symptoms for many women is memory changes or fuzzy thinking and it’s extremely common.

7. Thinning hair or hair loss: Imbalances between estrogen and testosterone can cause thinning hair. Many women start to notice clumps of hair in their shower drains during menopause or perimenopause.
 
8. Vaginal dryness: It can be a difficult symptom to discuss, but 50% of women in perimenopause and menopause experience vaginal dryness, itching and pain that affects their sex lives and relationships.

9. Low libido: While vaginal dryness can contribute to low libido, a drop in progesterone or a testosterone deficiency by itself can also leave you without a sex drive.

10. Joint discomfort /stiffness: Joint pain or stiffness in the back, knees or hips is an unexpected symptom that may be caused by fluctuating estrogen levels. Hard to believe, but true!

11. Food cravings: If you had cravings with PMS, you may notice they are getting worse. This can be due to your body’s increased needs for valuable micronutrients, or to the rollercoaster pattern of fatigue / carbohydrates / fatigue with hormonal imbalance affect on insulin.

12. Anxiety and/or sadness: Peri-menopause can raise your stress level, and can create hormonal imbalances that affect mood and emotional health. Stress hormones directly affect the production and balance of other hormones.

13. Irritability and/or moodiness: Feeling angry all the time and snapping at your friends and family doesn’t feel good for you or them. Outbursts and mood swings are some of the first signs many women notice in peri-menopause.

14. PMS-like symptoms: You may think stronger cramps, bloating, breast tenderness, headaches or mood swings are due to worsening PMS, but as symptoms get more frequent or severe, it’s often a sign of peri-menopause.

15. Feeling overwhelmed: Peri-menopause and menopause can compound existing stress levels causing your body to be overcome with too many demands. Under these conditions it’s likely you’ll feel overwhelmed mentally and find it difficult to deal effectively with anything.

What is BHRT?

Bio-identical hormone prescriptions are an exact match to your own natural hormones, so they improve your symptoms with few and minor side effects. You take them, once or twice a day as recommended, using a lozenge or cream (that you apply to your forearm skin).
 
Your personal prescription is prepared using micronized wild yam and soya, by a special compounding pharmacy who are regulated by the General Pharmaceutical Council. It is not mashed together on a kitchen table - I know because I have had a tour of their their state-of-the-art facilities.

Every woman needs hormones

Hormone balance is essential for memory and concentration, cardiovascular health and strong bones as well as supporting the body’s ability to maintain health, energy and happiness. It also protects against a number of cancers including breast cancer. Now remember that orchestra of hormones? Well I look at the balance of oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA. 

Why do women feel isolated?

Many women feel very isolated in their suffering. Some feel their relationship is falling apart or they simply don’t recognize, or even like, themselves. It’s a huge relief to speak to a peri-menopausal woman, such as myself, who understands and can help.
 
The full effect of hormonal change is often not understood by GPs because the NHS and the British Menopause Society purely concentrates their guidence on oestrogen. Progesterone is not acknowledged by British Gynecologists to have any other function, but to protect the wall of your womb. So the term Progesterone is used inter-changeably with the synthetic Progesterin and Progesteron. This is not the limit of understanding in France, Canada and America were 77% of women choose to take bio-identical hormones.

For years we have laughed about hot flushes, been embarrassed when we forgot things, had our wombs and ovaries removed and talked in hushed tones about “breakdowns". Now we are being told its OK; to wet yourself as you dance through the street in carnival leotard and Tena pants.; use a non-hormonal cream for vaginal dryness and continue to get urinary tract infections and painful sex; and take anti-depressants when you have no history of depression.
 
The common message is grin and be stoic,or write it down in a diary as it will make you feel better, since in seven years you’ll be through the menopause. I believe this is not good enough,! It is not good advice and its detrimental to your health, happiness and relationships.

Taking back control?

I am an advocate for taking back control of your health. I will help you to have the best health through the hormonal transition and into old age. I want your 80 year old self to tell you now, that the post menopause years are healthier, happier and more independent, because you made the informed choice to take hormone replacement.

How can I work with you?

It all starts with a good old fashion talk, over coffee, at your consultation. There’s quite a bit of paper work too, so arrive early with all your medications and supplements. I will listen to what your main symptoms are, answer your questions and address any concerns. All the information that I give is bang up to date supported by facts.
 
For the price of a daily coffee - you can use prescribed BHRT losengers or creams personalized for you. Their formulation can be based on your description of your symptoms or the analysis of a blood tests which are more reliable. Although I can also interpret saliva or DUTCH tests if you have been seeing an other practitioner.
 
Either book in to have a private consultation with me or drop in to my free Menopause Café on the first Tuesday of the month between 6-7pm. (Folllow us on Facebook to check the topic for next Menopause Café - it’s an all female space to ask questions and get answers.)

Victoria

 

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