Women’s Health and Hormones
Most womens health conditions are related to hormonal imbalance. PMS, Peri-menopause and menopause can cause hormone havoc in some women. In the reproductive years a womans hormones cycle each month and women may experience symptoms of pre-menstrual disorder, PMS. Later in life as women near menopause the hormones begin to fluctuate, ovulation is inconsistent, and menstrual bleeding patterns can change. This phase is called peri-menopause. After a woman has gone an entire year without a menstrual cycle, she is then in menopause. This is a natural body process but may produce symptoms that require treatment. Another hormone related to womens health conditions is cortisol and thyroid and need to be in balance as well.
The signs and symptoms of PMS, peri-menopause and menopause include mood swings, fluid retention, menstrual irregularities, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, fatigue, decreased libido, weight gain, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, hair loss, heart palpitations, and headaches. Naturopathic treatments for PMS, peri-menopause and menopause are an effective way to help women balance their hormones in all phases of her life.
- Dietary changes and exercise can help balance hormones. As little as 30 minutes three times a week of aerobic activity can improve mood, decrease irritability and increase tolerance to stress.
- Botanicals can be helpful in treating the symptoms of PMS, perimenopause and menopause. However, some can interact with medications including the birth control pill so be careful treating yourself with over the counter herbs. Some common botanicals for hormones include; Vitex, Angelica, Dioscorea, Cimicifuga, Withania, and Hypericum. It is best to use both the whole plant and the standardized extract.
- Bio-identical hormone therapy is used to replace or balance hormones as well. Treatment should be individualized based on a womans risk for breast cancer, heart attack, stroke and blood clots. What works for one woman may not work for another.
Simple blood tests can determine which hormones are out of balance. Common tests include; cortisol, thyroid, estrogen, testosterone and progesterone. Specialty tests for nutritional deficiencies can help individualize treatments so women do not take unnecessary supplements. A thorough history, examination, and blood work determine the best approach for balancing hormones.
More than ever before, women with PMS, entering peri-menopause and menopause, are educating themselves, asking their doctors questions, and requesting information about options for treatment. Naturopathic treatment options are an effective way to address a womans hormonal conditions. After ruling out conditions with similar symptoms, testing hormone levels in the body, and assessing womens risk factors for future health conditions, then an individualized treatment plan is created. Due to the complex nature of bio-identical hormone therapy, herb-herb interactions and drug-herb interactions, it is recommended that menopausal women seek the expertise of their naturopathic doctor.
Article contributed by Dr. Marianne Marchese