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Every adult woman has heard horror stories about menopause. Many have seen their mothers, aunts, or older female relatives go through it. It’s a dreaded stage of life for many women. What some women may not know is that it’s possible to enter early menopause, which is due to a variety of factors. Others question how to know when they’re entering menopause. It’s a vague period of a woman’s life, and a topic of discussion in womens health forums. However, menopause doesn’t have to be an awful time full of hot flashes, severe mood swings, or night sweats. If you are facing severe menopausal symptoms, there are menopause solutions. One increasingly popular one is looking at an alternative treatment called bioidentical hormone therapy.
Defining Terms
What is Menopause?
Menopause is technically defined as a period of life for a woman (usually between the ages of 40 and 50) when women’s reproductive hormones begin to naturally decline. Most women (about nine out of ten) go through perimenopause–that is, a stage in their life where their menstrual cycles are altered. This usually lasts four years. Perimenopause is known as one of the first stages of menopause.
The mean age of menopause is around age 51, although women can enter menopause as early as their 30s, while others don’t experience an signs of menopause until their 60s. Interestingly, the average age of menopause hasn’t changed for centuries, even with the increased life expectancy age. A woman is considered “in menopause” once she hasn’t had her period for a year; thereafter, she is referred to as “post-menopausal.”
What is Bioidentical Hormone Therapy?
It’s a fancy term for a pretty simple concept. In short, bioidentical hormones are hormones that have the exact same molecular structure as those made in women’s bodies naturally. Bioidentical hormone therapy is using those hormones to mainly treat symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes or dryness in the vagina.
Is Bioidentical Hormone Therapy Safe?
Although there are still studies being done, healthcare professionals say that for women in their 50s who are just beginning menopause, hormone replacement therapy is a relatively safe method of treatment. They recommend it be used only up to five years and that it doesn’t put patients at a higher risk for heart disease–although women should still be checking in with their doctors and getting screened regularly. It’s important to talk to your doctor about any risks or what other supplements you should take while on bioidentical hormones. Depending on what kind of bioidentical hormone you take, there may be certain other factors you should keep in mind.
Where Can I Find Bioidentical Hormones?
Many bioidentical hormones can be prescribed to you by your doctor and are available in your local pharmacy. Most are FDA-approved and come in an array of forms–from pills, patches, or creams.
The good news is that bioidentical hormone therapy hasn’t been associated with any huge health risks and many women, including celebrities tout the all-natural aspect of the hormones and how much better they feel after having taken them. They can definitely help with aspects of menopause that are uncomfortable or irritating. If you’re suffering from severe menopausal symptoms, do be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any kind of treatment.