Age-related hormone imbalances start around age 40 in women, although the individual may not experience major symptoms of hormonal changes for several years after that. Younger women who have surgically-induced menopause will experience hormone imbalances at the age of surgery.
Many women believe menopause is when menstrual cycles cease abruptly, and that hormones will not seem out of balance until menopause is reached. However, women may note that they skip their monthly cycle for months, then return to somewhat normally occurring periods. So, although periods seem normal, hormones can already be out of balance for years. Menopause is not a cause of hormonal changes. Instead, menopause is one effect of the reduction in hormones and other changes experienced in women as the body ages and changes. Menopause has officially occurred when a woman has not had her period for at least twelve months.
The three primary hormones needed in a woman’s body for youthful normalcy are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. These three also form the basis for hormone replacement therapy, and levels are tested to determine how much of each to replenish the body using bioidentical hormones or other treatments.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy refers to the replacement of the body’s naturally occurring hormones with structurally identical components that match those of a healthy woman’s endocrine system. There is a multitude of bioidentical hormone products available through prescription pharmaceuticals in the forms of pills, tablets, creams, capsules and gels. Compounding pharmacies can also produce bioidentical compounds specifically mixed for the individual woman’s needs.
Some symptoms of changes in a woman’s hormonal balance may include:
- Irregularity in menstrual cycle
- Racing or pounding heart
- Heart palpitations
- Night sweating
- Skin flushing
- Changes in sex drive or response
- Urine leakage
- Vaginal dryness or pain during intercourse
- Aching joints
- Vaginal infections
- Hot flashes, particularly persistent during first two years of hormonal changes
At Innovative Medicine, our medical team will test the woman who is experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalance to determine which hormones need replacement and how much are necessary to return to a more normal daily comfort level. Tests may include a pelvic exam to see if vaginal lining has changed, as is common with hormonal fluctuations. A bone density test may be ordered to check for osteoporosis, which often occurs hand in hand with other symptoms of aging. Blood and urine tests are also essential.
When test results are received, and the doctor has assessed those findings, he or she will discuss hormone replacement options. That is the time when bioidenticals will be discussed as a leading therapy for enduring all of the changes through which the patient’s body is navigating.
The decision for bioidentical hormones and when they should begin can be discussed with a woman’s healthcare practitioner. Equally important is the issue of how long the therapy will likely be prescribed, whether replacement levels will diminish over time, and how often the patient’s hormone levels should be rechecked to maintain the healthiest course of replacement. Contact Innovative Medicine today to schedule your consultation. We can help determine if hormone replacement therapy is right for you.
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