Women in their 30s and 40s have problems with hormones.
This simple fact seems to be a source of consternation and denial in the world of conventional medicine.
While in my training years the party line (unfortunately this is still true to this day in too many doctors’ minds) is that women do not really suffer with any treatable symptoms of menopause until they stop having their periods for at least one year and thus qualify for the DIAGNOSIS of MENOPAUSE.
That is because in medicine opinion is all too often considered fact. No research has ever been performed on women’s hormones or the connection between symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, bloating, PMS, weight gain, loss of libido, depression and hormone imbalances.
Physicians are trained by the book which is a good thing for medical emergencies and chronic illnesses, but when it comes to areas outside acute or chronic illness, not much is known in the conventional medical field.
Symptoms of hormone imbalance and menopause are among those grey areas no one seems to understand or know where to place in the continuum of health or disease.
For that reason when you go to your doctor in your 30s and 40s while still menstruating and ask for help with the increasing frequency of terrible PMS, weight gain, bloating, mood swings so bad you cannot recognize yourself, you are met with a blank stare followed by either a “grin and bear it” recommendation or even worse “a prescription for birth control pills or an antidepressant.”
Neither are viable options nor do they address the core issues for the presence of the problem to begin with. The reasons for the symptoms while connected to your period in the sense that they are all hormonal, are not going to be solved by waiting for your period to naturally or surgically end and then giving you hormones of any kind.
The presence or absence of the period does not matter when you are trying to help or are a woman in the throes of horrible symptoms.
I find it odd that so many women doctors do not understand how horrible women feel when they are suffering with continuous PMS, gain 20 pounds in one month and are shocked by the alien who has invaded their mind and body. How have the healing professions become so uncaring and so callous?
Yesterday I saw a 43 year old woman who is the perfect representative of the situation I am describing. She is a successful business woman, recently married to a great guy (they met on line) and should have all the reasons in the world to feel great. Unfortunately she does not.
She and for that matter, her sisters and also mother have suffered with symptoms of hormone imbalance for many years and have found no help from either the conventional or the alternative communities. She is not alone.
I find the answer lies in creating an integrated approach to that starts with listening and then helping her find balance.
Concretely, I mean:
1. Bioidentical hormones to be used as the cycle becomes more unmanageable in either the form of progesterone alone, or as symptoms progress, Estradiol and progesterone together in cycles.
2. Dietary adjustments to include increase in the use of hormone friendly foods and the progressive elimination of hormone busters.
3. Exercise directed at improving strength and relaxation around the worst parts of the cycle which usually occur the week or two before the beginning of a period. I like yoga, stretching, breathing and focus on core strength.
4. Increasing the amount of sleep around the worsening times of the month
5. Stress management techniques to focus on the most difficult time of the month to manage
6. Few supplements that actually help balance hormones and support energy production.
Finally, the validation that hormone imbalances are not limited to menopausal women and that bioidentical hormone use may very well help women of all ages open the door to feeling better.