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What is the definition of perimenopause?This term refers to women who are having menopausal symptoms. Their cycles may be erratic, and they may begin to experience hot flashes and even vaginal dryness. On average, women are about 47 years old when they hit perimenopause.

What is the definition of menopause?According to the conventional definition, you are in menopause if you have not had a menstrual cycle in the last 365 days.

Are the symptoms the same for perimenopause and menopause?Yes, they can be. However, symptoms typically diminish over time after menopause.

How long do symptoms last?Some women may not even have symptoms; others may experience them for over 10 years. Many factors influence how easily a woman transitions into menopause. They include hormone levels, eating and exercise habits, and the amount of stress in her life.

What percentage gets symptoms?This is very difficult to measure. What one woman considers a disruption in her life may not bother another. But a vast majority of women in the United States report having symptoms ranging from mild to severe.

Is it possible not to take anything at all and still live a normal life?The most important thing to remember is that menopause is just another natural transition in a woman’s life. It is important to be assessed by a professional to find out if there are any imbalances that may affect you in your later years.

What is the average weight gain during menopause?The average weight gain today is from 0 to 15 pounds. Stress, eating and exercise habits are only some of the things that can affect your weight during menopause. 

Am I hurting my body if I don’t take some sort of estrogen replacement?Not necessarily. The organs can function effectively if you maintain a proper diet, your biochemistry (vital and chemical processes in the body) is supported, and the root cause of symptoms is addressed.

Why is saliva testing not as accurate?A combination of saliva and blood testing is recommended to get an accurate picture of hormones in the body. Salvia testing is less utilized and less established with conventional medicine. What is most important is consistency in testing and the skill of the practitioner at establishing connections between hormone ratios.

What is the definition of bioidentical hormone therapy ?

Bioidentical hormone therapy can be a very confusing term. According to WebMD, the word “bioidentical” can refer to certain FDA-approved prescription drugs, or it can refer to custom-compounded hormones derived from plants and prepared at compounding pharmacies.

The FDA advises taking the lowest dose of prescription drugs for menopausal symptoms for the shortest time. The FDA has not approved custom-compounded hormones.

Why are the new FDA-approved synthetic patches referred to as bioidentical?Some FDA-approved products such as Estrace, the Climara and Vivelle-Dot patches, and Prometrium natural progesterone are derived from plants. Be sure to check with your doctor to see if other ingredients are synthetic.

If a woman goes off hormone replacement therapy after a few years, will her symptoms have diminished?Some women still may experience symptoms.Adrenal support and nutrient depletions should be addressed before tapering off hormone replacement therapy. It is important to decrease dosages slowly over several months and discuss alternatives to hormone replacement therapy with a health-care professional.

What symptoms are the most common?Hot and cold flashes, dry skin, loss of libido, forgetfulness, change in appetite, vaginal dryness, weight gain, sleep disturbances, gas/bloating, thinning or loss of hair, and bone loss are all common.

Why has my appetite changed so drastically?This could be due to a number of things — hormone shifts, adrenal fatigue and decreased metabolism, just to name a few. It is important to thoroughly assess the body to determine the root cause.

Will I ever be happy?

No one will ever tell you that the menopausal years are easy. Not only is your body changing, but your brain is also being re-wired. A thorough evaluation is recommended to determine the root cause a number of things.

What baseline testing should I be requesting?At the very least, test hormone levels. This testing would include DHEA, testosterone, estradiol, total estrogen, TSH, Free T3, Free T4, progesterone, thyroid antibodies, and cortisol levels in the morning, noon, afternoon and night. A bone-density test of your spine — not your wrist or ankle — is also necessary. Your health-care professional will be able to assess which tests are best for you.

How do I access a good compound pharmacy?The International Women’s Pharmacy is one of the best recognized compound pharmacies. You also can check the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board, www.pcab.info.

Can phone consultations be as beneficial as seeing someone in person?In most cases, it is better to see a doctor in person. But sometimes that is not possible. Doctors who conduct phone consultations typically ask you to complete a lengthy questionnaire before speaking with you on the phone and asking more in-depth questions. And phone consultations most likely will lead to testing. Information yielded by the questionnaire, consultation and tests give the professional a good idea of how to move forward with your care.

Will my insurance cover consultations?Some consultations with doctors and other professionals as well as testing may be covered. Check with your insurance provider. You may want your primary care physician involved in your care.

How long does it take to see results from alternative/integrative-medicine treatments?It depends on the patient, compliance, and duration of the condition. Some people take longer to recover from chronic and nutritional issues than others. And just as with synthetic medications, treatment may need to be altered to see desired results.

How often should follow-up testing be done?Your health-care professional will determine what follow-up testing will need to be completed.

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