Menopause is a natural phenomenon that women experience as they age. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. As your ovaries cease estrogen production, you’ve likely experienced some of your most significant bodily changes since puberty. Hot flashes, weight gain, insomnia, and depression are just the tip of the iceberg for women in the beginning of menopause, and some women deal with these symptoms for years afterward.
Once you’ve gone an entire year without a menstrual cycle, your doctor can officially designate you as postmenopausal—and if you’ve made it this far in your menopause transition, you may be breathing a big sigh of relief. But, unfortunately, while many of your symptoms may ease in the months and years following the cessation of your cycle, you might still experience some of your most troubling symptoms during this period. And, like most women, you gain new and increased risk for more serious conditions related to the aging process.
Thankfully, it is possible to lessen your risk and manage your symptoms with the help of a skilled practitioner who can develop a personalized treatment plan using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). Hormone therapy has been identified by the Endocrine Society as the most effective treatment for many symptoms of menopause. For postmenopausal women who are dealing with hormone-related stress and discomfort, this is good news.
Understanding Common Postmenopause Symptoms
The first step in managing your postmenopausal symptoms is understanding what your body is really going through. In the years following your last menstrual cycle, you could experience any or all of the following changes:
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Decreased bone density
- Sexual discomfort
- Urinary dysfunction
- Vasomotor symptoms
- Mood disturbances
These symptoms can be overwhelming, but medical treatments—including bioidentical hormone replacement therapy—can help minimize them or even eliminate them altogether.
Increased risk of heart disease
We know that blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides tend to go up when your body slows production of estrogen. You might find at your annual check-up that high cholesterol is now a concern for you, and you and your doctor may need to monitor your levels through medications or dietary trials. Significantly, these symptoms correlate to an increased risk for heart disease—a leading killer of women worldwide. The good news is that hormone replacement therapy has been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in postmenopausal women. Managing your risk through medical attention and lifestyle changes is both possible and pragmatic.
Decreased bone density
Estrogen stimulates bone growth throughout a woman’s fertile years, and the hormonal changes brought on by menopause can cause significant bone loss. The loss of bone density experienced by women in postmenopause can translate to decreased balance and increased vulnerability to fractures. Hormone therapy can help increase bone mineral density and reduce your risk of fractures, especially when initiated early in the menopause process.
Menopause also causes atrophy in other areas of the female body, which can involve significant changes in the way a woman enjoys sexual activity. If you’re experiencing vaginal bleeding, discomfort, or dryness during sex after menopause, you might be having symptoms of genitourinary atrophy. Estrogen therapy can help ease the discomfort that comes from this thinning and drying of the vaginal tissues—and may help restore libido as well.
You might notice a weakening in your pelvic floor muscles during postmenopause, which can result in a frustrating—and often embarrassing—difficulty holding your urine. In addition to incontinence, urinary tract infections, increased urgency, and increased frequency are all uncomfortable symptoms that postmenopausal women can experience. Urgency medications, pelvic floor exercises, and other medical interventions may be useful in lessening these symptoms.
For many women, the severity and frequency of hot flashes ease after menopause. However, some experience these vasomotor symptoms for years following the cessation of their cycle. Continued hot flashes, night sweats, and resulting insomnia are all very possible and common postmenopause symptoms. Some women choose to “wait it out” in hopes that these experiences will lessen over time—but when easy and accessible treatment options like BHRT exist, there’s really no reason to suffer alone.
Finally, it’s very possible for women to endure difficult mood and mental health changes during postmenopause. While mood swings can be the result of fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels (and would therefore drop off after menopause occurs), many women struggle with depression and anxiety as a result postmenopausal hormone levels as well. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s possible that hormone therapy can help support psychological stability and emotional tranquility. However, it is important to seek help from a psychiatrist or psychologist first to ensure that you are getting the right help.
Seeking Treatment for Your Postmenopause Symptoms
Menopause is natural part of the aging process for women, so it makes sense that the ideal treatment option is natural as well. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy uses hormones that are derived from plants and chemically identical to the hormones made by your own body. As such, BHRT can replenish depleted hormone levels in a way that is typically highly effective, well-tolerated, and customizable.
BHRT starts with a thorough symptom evaluation, medical history questionnaire, and testing of your individual hormone levels to identify an optimal treatment strategy. You’ll work one-on-one with a highly qualified physician to determine a medication, dosage, and format that’s right for you. The best practitioners will also consult with you about which nutrition and lifestyle habits will supplement and support your BHRT for a comprehensive and well-rounded treatment plan that addresses all of your concerns.
No matter what your postmenopause symptoms are, or how long you’ve suffered, it’s time to get your life back. Women who receive BHRT treatment often feel younger, healthier, and more alive than they’ve felt in years when their menopause symptoms ease—they feel like themselves again. With less discomfort and a renewed sense of well-being, postmenopause can be an exciting new stage in life rather than a burden.
BodyLogicMD can help you stay healthy and comfortable in postmenopause with expert care from a highly skilled practitioner who specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and integrative medicine. The practitioners within the BodyLogicMD network are among the top medical professionals in the nation and specially trained to help you address hormonal health concerns using the best therapies available. To begin your journey, contact a local practitioner to schedule your first appointment or take the BodyLogicMD Hormone Balance Quiz today.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent diseases.
Charlotte is a patient care coordinator specializing in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. She is committed to helping patients who struggle with the symptoms of hormonal change and imbalance explore their treatment options and develop effective strategies to optimize wellness.