When we talk with women around the country, one of the consistent themes we hear them say is they are confused by all the words──menopause, premenopause, perimenopause, bio-identical hormones, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and the list goes on. For many women, menopause takes them by surprise. Their grandmothers didn’t talk about it, their mothers discussed it in hushed tones—as if it were taboo! The result ── half-truths, all-out myths, unnecessary anxiety, and generations of women who have been unprepared for this inevitable and manageable transition in a normal woman’s life cycle. So when it hits, and trust me it (symptoms) will hit, they are desperate for guidance and information, pushing these women to search Google, women’s health websites, blogs and podcasts and now, they are even more confused. So over the course of the year, we’ll take a symptom, a word, a remedy, or a therapeutic, and explore, define or myth bust it with an expert or trusted research findings.
So lets’ start with the words that describe this natural transition in a women’s life stage. We’re going to be text book descriptive here, so bear with us.
Premature menopause—Occurs before age 40 and happens to about 1% of women. You still have periods — whether they’re regular or irregular — and are considered to be in your reproductive years. Some hormonal changes may be occurring, but there are no noticeable changes in your body.
Perimenopause—The 8-to 10-years leading up to menopause when many women experience the most intense symptoms related to hormonal imbalances, particularly in the three to five years before menopause. This stage, occurs early 40s to early 50s, as a drop in estrogen, the main female hormone produced by the ovaries, go up and down more sporadically than they do in a typical 28-day cycle causing irregular periods and other symptoms.
Menopause— Signaled when a woman has no menstrual period for 12 consecutive months (average menopause age 51.4). The ovaries produce so little estrogen that eggs are no longer released and this causes your period to stop and fertility ends.
Three types of Menopause when a woman’s ovaries are:
(1) Removed by surgery (surgical menopause)
(2) Destroyed by radiation treatments, chemotherapy, or the use of some other drugs (induced menopause), or
(3) No longer naturally making enough estrogen to produce a menstrual cycle (natural or spontaneous menopause)
Postmenopause—The years after menopause where hormonal imbalances, such as hot flashes and night sweats, can ease for many women.
Hysterectomy— A surgical removal of the uterus will stop menstruation, but it does not cause menopause unless the ovaries are also removed (oophorectomy).
Once you turn 40 you should work with a menopause specialist as this is someone who can help you successfully transition through perimenopause and feel like you’re thriving not struggling. More on finding the right doctor in another post.
There are four stages of menopauses (premenopause, perimenopause, menopause and post menopause) which may have an effect on your body and cause hormonal symptoms. It's never too late to plan for when the symptoms start. Hot Flash Tea is a cup of tea specially formulated for women suffering from symptoms of menopause, such as night sweats and hot flashes. Also speak to your doctor or natural health care practitioner to find other option(s) that may best help restore balance in your body during this transitional time in life.