Menopause & perimenopause
Ending confusion, fear and worry about menopause
by Dixie Mills, MD
If you’re confused about menopause, you’re not alone.
Our Advisors and Wellness Coaches hear from thousands of women each week who are
struggling to find information they can trust — so that they can better understand
what they’re feeling in menopause. And many are also facing the fear and worry that
goes with being told the only “solution” to menopause is a prescription medication.
As both a doctor and a woman who has gone through menopause, I would like to set
the record straight — about what menopause really means, as well as the real relief
options available for women suffering from symptoms. To help me, I’ve asked Pauline,
one of the Women to Women Advisors, to share the most common questions and concerns
she hears from women.
After all, when you have information you can trust, you’ll be able to put an end
to any confusion, fear, or worry you might have — and we know you’ll feel better
“What does being ‘in menopause’ really mean?”
Pauline: It can be hard to understand
that all your symptoms may be related. Women tell me “I’m not in menopause because
I don’t have any hot flashes or night sweats.” But when you ask about other symptoms,
they say “yes, I am tired, yes, I am irritable, yes, I have fuzzy thinking”, and
one that’s so common — “yes, I’ve gained weight.”
Dr. Dixie says: First, I want to emphasize
that menopause is normal, and we’re all going to go through it. And while you can’t
avoid it, there’s a lot you can do to make it a whole lot easier.
Technically, being ‘in menopause’ means your menstrual periods have stopped — the
conventional standard is going a year since your last period. The average age is
52; however, a woman can begin menopause as early as her 30’s— which we’re seeing
more of recently — or as late as her 60’s.
During menopause and the transition leading up to it — known as perimenopause —
our hormones really fluctuate. The ups and downs create big changes for the entire
body. Sometimes our bodies have trouble responding to these shifts and can’t rebalance.
That’s when we often experience symptoms including hot flashes, major mood swings,
low libido, the weight gain, and fatigue — you name it.
As you can imagine, this time can make you feel quite uncertain — about everything.
“Why does my doctor say I’m fine or ‘too young for menopause’ when I still don't
feel like myself?”
Pauline: Age is a big question
for many women who are told “oh, you’re too young for that” even when they are suffering
from multiple symptoms. Or the healthcare provider has done some blood work and
said “your hormone levels are fine. Everything’s great. You’re not in menopause.
Everything’s good.” Then women say they feel like their only option is go home and
deal with their symptoms the best they can.
Dr. Dixie says: Using age or measuring
the level of just one specific hormone doesn’t take into account a woman’s individual
hormonal or possibly adrenal imbalance, or the diet, lifestyle and genetic factors
that can make distressing symptoms worse. So, while your healthcare provider may
be right in saying that a test doesn’t show a specific number, it isn’t really accurate
to say that everything is fine.
Over the years, we’ve found the best indicator of your health in menopause is how
you’re feeling. If your body‘s natural ability to make and balance your hormones
is in flux or your adrenal glands are overtapped, you’re more likely to experience
symptoms — which is your body’s way of asking you for help.
“What choices do I have to feel better?”
Pauline: Women tell us they hear
messages like, “Here’s a sleeping pill. Here’s your antidepressant. Try hormones
or birth control!” — without ever hearing about natural options. Many women don’t
want to take drugs at all so that’s why they’re calling us. Or they’re already on
one of those things and really don’t like how they feel but it’s what’s been recommended.
It’s confusing. In fact, I think companies even advertise antidepressants for menopause
“Over the years, we’ve found the best indicator of your hormonal health
is how you’re feeling.”
- Dr. Dixie Mills
Dr. Dixie says: The assumption is made
that women would want to take a pill rather than learn about natural alternatives
and diet and exercise.
But we believe in giving women all of the options so they can make the choice that
is right for their individual situations. We know from the Women’s Health Initiative
that hormone replacement therapy is not the answer for every woman. And, sleeping
pills, antidepressants or birth control pills don’t address the underlying root
cause of hormonal or adrenal imbalances.
When women are considering what steps to take, we want them to know there are so
many natural, commonsense ways you can actually help your body balance its hormones
and adrenals. Adjusting diet, exercise, and sleep patterns really works. A simple
detox can help flush out years of accumulated toxins. Taking a good multivitamin
along with the right herbs and oils can do wonders. Looking at your family patterns
and relationships is also quite helpful.
Pauline: This is an opportunity
for many women to reevaluate their lives. To find out just how much better they
can feel by making some lifestyle changes. Even those who THINK they eat right and
don’t have a lot of sugar or caffeine in their diets may still not be getting the
nutrients they need. Often, we’re still very locked in by what TV or what the grocery
aisles are telling us and selling us.
“We started by talking about confusion, but I feel a lot of women I talk
to are relieved to find out this is all pretty normal.”
- Dr. Dixie Mills
It’s really neat when you talk to somebody who understands she doesn’t have to keep
doing what she was doing before!
Dr. Dixie says: We started by talking about
confusion, but I feel a lot of women I talk to are relieved to find out this is
all pretty normal.
Once women understand more about menopause, they’ll be able to trust their inner
guidance to choose the best course of action for them as individuals. That’s one
of the reasons we founded the Women to Women Personal Program and website. We wanted
to provide a way for women to share in the knowledge and insight we’ve gained from
working with so many women throughout the years. That helps us constantly provide
the most effective and realistic solutions for women who are going through the menopause
Our Personal Program — your menopause symptom solution
The Personal Program promotes symptom relief and natural hormonal balance with advanced
nutritional supplements, our exclusive endocrine support formula, personalized dietary
and lifestyle guidance, and phone consultations with our Nurse–Educators when you
need additional attention.
If you have questions, don't hesitate to call us toll-free at 1-800-798-7902.
We're here to listen and help.
Last Modified Date: 05/27/2011
Principal Author: Dixie Mills, MD