By Prudence Hall, M.D.
Emily* was a thirty-something with seemingly everything going for her. But gradually, things began to fall apart for the Los Angeles resident due to a “mystery condition” that doctors just couldn’t seem to crack. Despite her young age, Emily was constantly exhausted. She was also severely depressed, and suffered frequent bouts of nausea. Insomnia exacerbated her already debilitating fatigue and lack of mental focus. Joint pain interfered with her once active lifestyle. Emily also began noticing vaginal dryness, which made sex (which she desired less and less) painful.
The misery went on for ten years, until Emily finally learned that her symptoms were all part of perimenopause, something she would never have thought a possibility in her early thirties. But Emily isn’t alone. Today’s generation of women experience perimenopause some ten years earlier than their mothers, and fifteen years earlier than their grandmothers – a trend due in large part to societal and environmental stressors.
But the more perplexing phenomenon is the silent treatment given to perimenopause both within the medical community and the media. And that’s a real shame, since we know how to treat it and help women not just feel better, but feel better than ever. Once Emily was diagnosed, she began receiving bioidentical hormone replacement therapy that quickly brought her body back into balance. Her story has a happy ending, and so can yours, if you listen to your body and seek the answers you deserve.
It’s important to know that the symptoms of perimenopause — which are different for every woman — go far beyond the classic hot flashes, night sweats, and weight gain. Emily’s experience with depression, fatigue, and insomnia is a textbook case. But every perimenopause experience is unique, and there are many more related symptoms, including hair loss, thinning of nails, a change in body odor, poor gum health, lightheadedness and more.
Once you’re in tune with your own symptoms and aware that perimenopause — which is defined by massive hormonal shifts — may be to blame, it’s time to find answers and get treatment. Ask your doctor to dig deeper to find the root cause of your symptoms instead of rushing to prescribe drugs. This means performing extensive blood analysis to determine the levels of important hormones in your body, like estrogen, testosterone and progesterone. Hormones are the software of the body and they are responsible for almost every reaction that takes place inside of us. So it’s no wonder that when they decrease during perimenopause, so many different symptoms can occur.
The results of your blood tests will give your doctor a clear picture of what’s going on. She can then develop a protocol that will ideally include bioidentical hormone therapy. Unlike synthetic hormones, these have a number of additional health possible benefits, including helping to decrease your risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes to name a few. You may also want to consider some highly targeted natural supplements that will help with specific issues such as sleeplessness, mood swings, digestion, etc.
No, you’re probably not too young to be encountering the effects of perimenopause. But no matter your age, you are too young to be feeling less than your most vital, energetic, contented and radiant self.
*Name changed for privacy of client
About Prudence Hall, M.D
Dr. Prudence Hall is a physician with a vision. A traditional practitioner turned pioneer of regenerative and integrated medicine, Dr. Hall foresees a future where “average” and “normal” are no longer acceptable standards of health. Instead, she strives to help clients achieve optimal health and actively prevent disease without the use of pharmaceutical drugs when appropriate. She established The Hall Center in Santa Monica, California, as a practice focused exclusively on regenerative medicine. A firm believer in probing deeper into the root causes of conditions and diseases rather than simply treating their symptoms, Dr. Hall is dedicated to helping her clients achieve an unprecedented state of vitality at any age.