Women often demand much of their bodies. Stress exists in many forms for an active, involved woman today. Women have demanding and stressful careers. Women have family responsibilities. The relationship with a spouse or partner may not be the best. Aging parents can add to the burden. These and other responsibilities add up in the toll they take on the body, health and well-being of a woman.
And at the same time, a woman’s body may not be getting the support it needs to function as it was designed. Obesity, lack of exercise, poor nutrition, excess caffeine and alcohol add to the problem instead of helping the body cope with what is demanded of it. This stressful lifestyle, coinciding with inadequate support given to the body, contributes to experiencing many of the early menopause symptoms.
Common first symptoms of menopause for women are:
- Irregular menstrual cycles
• Light or heavy menstrual flow
• Lumpy or tender breasts
• Fibroid tumors
• Mood swings
• Water retention and bloating
• Sleep problems
• “Foggy, fuzzy” thinking and memory lapses
• Anxiety and depression
• Inability to handle stress
• Hot flashes and night sweats
• Vaginal dryness
• Weight gain
Then there are the hormones, the menstrual cycle and hormone production in the body. In the normal menstrual cycle of a healthy woman, estrogen is the dominant hormone that is produced for the first 10-12 days following the previous menstrual flow. Ovulation then signals the female body to produce progesterone, which happens for the next 12 days or so. If there is no pregnancy, progesterone and estrogen levels will drop at around day 28, allowing menstruation to begin.
However, if there is no ovulation, progesterone will not be produced by the body that month. This event, called an anovulatory cycle, is a typical occurrence today for women in their thirties and forties – no ovulation, no progesterone. This leaves the woman with an excess of estrogen and a deficiency of the hormone progesterone.
Many women in their thirties and forties are actually having fewer ovulations which creates hormone imbalance, resulting in many of the early menopause symptoms. And once ovulation ceases at menopause, progesterone levels fall to virtually zero. At the same time, estrogen is still being produced, again leading to hormone imbalance and the resulting first symptoms of menopause. If a hysterectomy has happened, surgical menopause means the woman no longer produces progesterone.
Besides the problems created by missed ovulations or hysterectomy, excess estrogen is regularly obtained from other sources. Birth control pills, household chemicals and pesticides, certain foods that have been sprayed or given chemicals and many construction materials used in homes are all sources of estrogen which leads to excess in the body.
Doctors call this hormone imbalance condition of excess estrogen in the body “estrogen dominance”. What are the symptoms of estrogen dominance? The symptoms include low sex drive, bloating and weight gain, headaches before the menstrual period, mood swings, irregular periods and excessive menstrual bleeding. If the amount of unbalanced estrogen in the female adult increases beyond what is desirable and healthy, you will definitely experience early menopause symptoms. On the other hand, when your hormones are balanced, you feel more alert, energetic and ready to take on the challenges of life.
How can a woman tell if the first symptoms of menopause being experienced are because of hormone imbalance? Make an appointment with Dr. Greg Marchand. He and his office staff are here to provide whatever information and assessments are necessary to help women entering this phase of their lives.