It all starts with peri-menopause, the time period just before menopause hits you with its full force.
What symptoms can you expect? Hot flushes or night sweats, heart palpitations, painful intercourse as a result of vaginal dryness, vaginal itching and infections, headaches as well as mental symptoms like fatigue, irritability, moodiness, depression, sleep disturbances and mental fog.
Peri menopause can last 6 to 13 years, give or take 5 years and during that time guidance by a good holistic practitioner might just make a lifetime difference. Many women end up on synthetic hormonal replacement therapy, oral contraceptives or even have their uteruses removed due to menstrual irregularities.
A thorough work-up of your hormonal profile during this time will guide your doctor as to which hormones need to be supplemented and most of all which lifestyle changes are necessary to bring the balance back.
Menopause is marked by the permanent end of menstruation and fertility and is defined as occurring 12 months after your last menstrual cycle. The average age is 51, but could be anything between 45 and 60.
Symptoms of menopause are the same as may be experienced in the peri-menopause and may extend well into the menopause.
So much emphasis is placed on oestrogen deficiency during menopause but in actual fact symptoms during peri and menopause may be due to oestrogen deficiency, oestrogen dominance or progesterone deficiency.
Symptoms might be aches and pains, depression, tearfulness, fatigue, headaches, heart palpitations, hot flushes, metal fog, short term memory loss, incontinence, vaginal dryness, bone loss, sleep disorder.
Salivary tests are available in our country now to ascertain which hormones should be addressed and can easily be ordered by your doctor. Once the problem has been identified different forms of treatment can be used. Herbals, homeopathics as well as bio-identical hormones can be used according to your needs.
“Change of life” should be a natural progression in a women’s life and not a cross that needs bearing. Consult with knowledgeable practitioner to guide you through this process.
Dr Marike de Klerk
M.Tech Hom (UJ)