Avoid a Miserable Menopause
Are you suffering from symptoms of menopause? These symptoms are a result of a very complex change that is happening in your body. During peri-menopause and menopause, many different hormones change drastically but the changes that happen can be different for every woman. This means that in order to treat the menopausal symptoms you are experiencing there are specific tests to do to help guide your treatment plan.
Here are the most important tests to do during menopause:
Cortisol (the stress hormone)
Did you know that hot flashes are not just related to estrogen? An imbalance of cortisol can also cause hot flashes. Also, if stress is high, the body preferentially uses up the building blocks that you need for your other hormones (ie estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) to make cortisol. Because the high cortisol is stealing the building blocks, other hormone levels can decline. Normal Cortisol is important for balanced blood sugar, sleep, appropriate stress response, balanced mood, bone turnover, the immune response and weight control.
Blood sugar, insulin and HbA1C
The hormones estrogen, progesterone, DHEA and thyroid can all impact blood sugar. These hormones can change during menopause and therefore it is important to test and ensure you have appropriate blood sugar regulation.
Thyroid Function (TSH, T3, T4, rT3, thyroid antibodies)
Hormones are all interconnected like a web, and if one is out of balance, many of the others can be as well. A decrease in thyroid hormone can cause low progesterone and conversely, high cortisol can cause a decrease in free thyroid hormone. It is important to see if your thyroid is impacting or being impacted by your changing hormones in menopause.
Estriol, Estradiol, Estrone
Did you know there were 3 different estrogens? Estrogen has 400 functions in the body! It is important to test all three forms of estrogen because they all have different strengths within the body and an imbalance in the ratios between them can lead to increased risk of disease including breast cancer.
Progesterone is the most common cause of sleep disturbances in menopause. However, excess DHEA, low cortisol, low or high insulin, or low pregnenolone can also cause insomnia in menopause! That is why, in order to develop an appropriate plan of action, we need to test! If low progesterone is causing your insomnia your Naturopathic doctor can prescribe bioidentical progesterone (link to other bhrt blog) or if you would prefer, herbs that support your body’s production of progesterone.
Testosterone is important not just for men but for women too and in some women levels can decline during menopause. Appropriate levels of testosterone help to maintain sexual interest, emotional well-being, skin tension, muscle mass, strength, bone strength and memory.
One of the risk factors for breast cancer is the improper breakdown of estrogen in the body. Because of various factors and influences, including exposure to estrogen-like chemicals (endocrine disrupters) in personal care products or pesticides, the body can begin to breakdown estrogen into harmful types of metabolites. High levels of these metabolites are a risk factor for the development of breast cancer. It is important to make sure you are metabolizing estrogen in an appropriate way that does not increase your risk for developing breast cancer. Your Naturopathic doctor can help you develop strategies to avoid endocrine disrupting chemicals in your life and can also use dietary measures and herbs like milk thistle to help your liver shift the way it metabolizes estrogen.
Your Naturopathic Doctor can perform all of the above tests and design a personalized treatment plan to ensure that your menopausal symptoms are addressed and you can go through menopause feeling great!
To test your hormones, get started on a plan and feel GREAT during menopause, book an appointment online with Dr. Eleveld at Natural Choice Medical Clinic in Guelph