Every woman who lives long enough will go through menopause, so why is it still such a mystery? Sadly, the process of menopause has been overlooked and kept hush-hush until recent years. Many women don’t understand what menopause is and that they don’t have to endure the symptoms that come with it. Let’s clear the air today! In this article, we’ll look at a specific part of the menopause process, perimenopause, and how BHRT can affect the perimenopause experience.
So What is Perimenopause?
Most of the time, when women talk about going through menopause, they’re talking about perimenopause. You may be surprised to learn that menopause only refers to a single instance in your transition into your post-childbearing years. Perimenopause is the correct term for the transitional period before menopause. It can last for a few months and up to 13 years. Yes, you read that right… 13 years!!
What Happens to Your Body During Perimenopause?
Perimenopause covers the period of time during which your ovaries start shutting down. During that time, your estrogen and progesterone levels will rise and fall like a nauseating carnival ride until they eventually plunge to zero. When estrogen levels are low enough, your body will not release an egg, which means you won’t have a period. However, if they rise back up, you may have an unexpected period.
Both the instability of hormone levels and the complete absence of sex hormones will cause symptoms like
- hot flashes
- mood swings
- night sweats
- frequent need to urinate
- erratic or no periods
- a change in menstrual cycles
- low libido
- vaginal dryness
- discomfort during sex
- brain fog
- memory problems
- trouble concentrating
These symptoms can start as early as your mid-30s or as late as your mid-50s. Perimenopause ends the day that you have not had a period in 12 consecutive months.
If you have a radical hysterectomy, you’ll skip perimenopause and jump straight to menopause/postmenopause because your estrogen levels will immediately drop once the surgeon has removed your ovaries.
We have a free webinar in early August on the topic of women’s issues such as vaginal dryness, hot flashes etc., if you think that might interest you.
How Do You Know You’re in Perimenopause?
Usually, you’ll notice something is off. The first thing that women who have regular periods will notice is irregular periods. The next most common things that women notice are hot flashes and night sweats. If you’re very attuned to your moods and have noticed that they’ve become extreme or erratic (or your loved ones have noticed!), this can also be a sign of hormone imbalance.
If your symptoms are disrupting your life, or you just want to know if you are in perimenopause, your primary care physician or a specialist can test your hormone levels to get a better idea of what’s going on and how to deal with it.
If you’ve decided this is your best course of action, contact us for an appointment. Otherwise, let’s turn to those pros and cons of BHRT.
The pros and cons of BHRT during Perimenopause
If your perimenopause symptoms are negatively affecting your life – whether it’s your work life, your family life, your love life, or your social life – bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) may bring much-needed relief.
What is BHRT?
BHRT is a form of hormone replacement therapy that uses bioidentical hormones rather than synthetic hormones. Although bioidentical hormones are manufactured, they’re sourced from natural plants like yams and soy and are an identical match to the natural hormones produced by your body.
If you have low estrogen levels, therefore, the best way to increase those levels is to add bioidentical estrogen to your bloodstream. That’s what BHRT does. It boosts the levels of the hormones that are giving you trouble. Bringing your estrogen levels back up to a certain level can decrease the symptoms that low estrogen levels cause.
Healthcare providers recommend that women who opt to use hormone therapy start it within 10 years of beginning menopause symptoms and use it for less than five years.
What Are The Pros of BHRT?
Research has found that BHRT plays an essential role in managing moderate to severe perimenopause symptoms like
- hot flashes
- night sweats
- memory loss
- mood changes
- weight gain
- sleep issues
- loss of interest in sex
- vaginal dryness
- pain during sex
In addition, research is finding that hormone replacement therapy may also
- reduce the risk of diabetes, tooth loss, and cataracts
- protect cardiovascular and bone health
- improve skin elasticity, thickness, and hydration, and
- reduce wrinkles.
BHRT has even been shown to improve the general wellbeing and quality of life of women with cancer who have undergone treatments that affect their estrogen levels.
What Are The Cons of BHRT During Perimenopause?
Unfortunately, there’s no perfect treatment for perimenopause symptoms. Although millions of women use or have used BHRT successfully, it doesn’t come without side effects. Most common are:
- Fluid retention
- Swelling of hands and feet
- Uterine spotting
- Hair thinning/Hair growth
It’s important to find a qualified BHRT specialist to make sure that you get the best care possible. In addition, continue to:
- Take any concerns to your doctor.
- Follow through with regular doctor visits, mammograms, and pelvic exams.
Is BHRT Safe?
We get this question a lot, and for good reason. There’s still a stigma around the safety of using hormone replacement therapy during perimenopause. However, the original cause for alarm has been well researched and disproven. Studies have shown that when used correctly and under a doctor’s care, HRT is safe. And there’s also no evidence that BHRT is not safe. The BHRT pellet method of hormone replacement has been used in Europe, Australia, and Canada for decades, and in the United States since the 1930s.