How do I know if I'm menopausal?
Menopause is diagnosed retrospectively after 12 months without a period. The period leading up to that time, called perimenopause, can begin up to five years or more earlier. Although a woman may still have a menstrual cycle during perimenopause, she may experience symptoms very similar to those of menopause. A blood test or saliva test can measure hormone levels.
What are some of those symptoms? Symptoms may include:
- Hot flushes
- Cold sweats
- Weight gain
- Rheumatic pains
- Cold hands and feet
- Breast pains
- Numbness and tingling
- Skin crawls
- Vaginal dryness
- Pain with intercourse
- Urinary difficulty including recurrent bladder infections
- Feelings of suffocation
- Heart pounding
- Dizzy spells
- Pressure or tightness in head or body
- Irritability and nervousness
- Inability to concentrate
- Crying spells
- Panic attacks
- Loss of interest in typical activities
- Needless worry
What can I do?
Speak to your doctor or pharmacist when you experience any or some of the above symptoms.
There are options available to help you manage the transition into menopause.
What are biologically identical hormones?
Biologically identical hormones are derived from plants, such as the wild yam or soybean plant. The wild yam is rich in precursor molecules that can be converted into hormones whose molecular structure is the same as those produced naturally in the human body.
How are biologically identical hormones administered?
A patient may need to try several different delivery systems to determine which one works best. Non-oral routes of administration, such as trans-dermal (through the skin) and sub-lingual (under the tongue), may provide a more consistent and natural way to introduce medications into the body.
Can anyone take hormones? Relative contraindications to hormonal therapy include:
- Family history of breast cancer (outside immediate family)
- Benign breast disease
- Past history of recurrent thromboembolisms (blood clots)
- Moderate or severe endometriosis
- Enlarging fibroids or fibroids that produce heavy bleeding
- Absolute contraindications to hormonal therapy include:
- Presence of non-eradicated endometrial cancer
- History of breast cancer
- Cancer history in first-degree relatives
- Active thrombosis (blood clot)
- Acute liver disease or chronic liver failure
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding
- Allergy to hormones or hormone-like drugs, or inactive ingredients
- Past or present blood clots
- Liver disease
- Known or suspected cancer of the breast or reproductive organs
- Unusual bleeding from the vagina, not evaluated by a physician
- Miscarriage with suspected tissue remaining in the uterus