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What I’m in menopause?

Irene Hogan-Menopause Expert

What Are the Symptoms of the Menopause?

Menopause, although not a disease is a stage in your life that can be hot and heavy or barely cause a ripple.Not every woman suffers the same signs or symptoms at the same level of intensity. Menopause occurs after one complete year without menstruation. What we actually refer to as menopause signs often are the effects and symptoms of going through that year and beyond.In fact many women experience changes that they aren’t aware of even 10 years before the final day. Here is a list of some major symptoms of menopause.

  • Psychological Changes

Your  brain chemistry and mental state undergo several changes during menopause, such as memory lapses, regular crying fits, mood swings and irritability. Disturbing symptoms of menopause that can mentally affect women include depression, anxiety,  difficulty while concentrating, dizziness and confusion. Added to all of that your sex drive of may also decrease.

  • Physical Changes

Some of the prominent physical changes that a menopausal woman may experience are cold and hot flashes, night sweats irregular periods and irregular heartbeats. Moreover, you may have pains and aches in your joints, gastrointestinal issues, bloating and muscle tension. You may also suffer from changes in body odor, weight gain, breast tenderness and a lack of vaginal lubrication.

Many  women can have electric shocks to the skin, increased facial hair, hair loss, itchy skin and even incontinence. Allergies and headaches can increase, and the start of other health problem, for example, osteoporosis, and diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In addition to the above mentioned changes, some women may also experience tingling in their feet and hands, brittle or softer fingernails, gum issues and a bad taste in their mouths, ringing in the ears and tinnitus.the list is, insomnia endless.Due to the lack of sleep and night sweats you may also find yourself over tired and fatigued.

  • What is the Average Age for Menopause?

According to several researches, the average age of menopause is 51. Generally, the symptoms of menopause manifest in women who are in between the ages of 45 to 55, with a few suffering symptoms in their late 30s.

As a general guide to know when you should expect and experience these changes in your life, you need to have a look at the age of your mother when she started suffering the symptoms of menopause. Typically, when it comes to menopause, daughters closely follow in line with their mother.

So if all that sounds like your life is going to hell in a hand basket there is a light at the end of the tunnel.Working with an expert in menopause will help you tailor a plan individualized for you.I have worked with many women over the years.With a program that takes into account your own risks and family history a plan can be developed.i work with you on lifestyles stress reduction the appropriate supplements and herbal remedies.

Don’t put your life on hold or buy into all the myths and negative stories propagated by the media.Menopause is not the end of life as you know it. It can be the beginning of a new journey, freedom,opportunities.

Menopause you’re in it for life, live it well.

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Adrenal exhaustion.Why you are fatigued,wired and irritable?

Menopause expert

Are you tired,exhausted,irritable and moody?Does getting up in the morning seem like a chore,do you feel as though you havent slept a wink?Welcome to your adrenals.You may not know them but they are two tiny glands that pack a powerful punch to your fight or flight response and the more stressed you are the harder your adrenals have to work untill finally they throw in the towel.If youre approaching or in menopause then you will find your hot flashes,night sweats are horrible and your energy and libido have got up and left you.


The adrenals are often called the stress glands,that is they help your body adapt to stress and also are a key to hormonal balance in menopause.The more stressed you are the more your hormones like progesterone and testosterone will be out of balance.The problem ids for most women are that thier adrenals are no longer able to adapt and start to shut down.So you may go from wired and tired to plain exhausted.

So we all know we are stressed.What can we do about it?

First you need to say NO.No to everything that doesnt energise you,make you feel good or robs you of time,sleep and health.Choose to nurture yourself.


Sleep supplement

Sleep is a priority,turn off the tv,all your electronics and simply breathe.Turn off the lights and say goodnight,in a cool dark room before midnight.Write down all your to do lists before you go to sleep.Avoid caffeine at night,drink chamomile or try lavender in the bath or on your pillow,calm your nerves and body.

If you’re having trouble falling asleep then a few of my favourite herbs and supplements are GABA,l-theanine,Holy basil,and melatonin.I love Ortho Sleep for my patients. Ortho sleep buy now

Cortisol is often a problem with people under stress.Testing with a 4 point salivary cortisol is a great start to see what stage of adrenal fatigue you are at and form a treatment plan.


Salivary 4 point cortisol test


Skin and Menopause

The main reason why and how our skin shows signs of aging are due to

  • Sun exposure
  • Genetics
  • Depletion of hormones
  • Lifestyle

SKIN & Menopause,

Dry Skin: The loss of estrogen does cause a decrease in the amount of sebum that is produced, leading to drier skin.

Estrogen plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin. For example, estrogen is responsible for stimulating the production of skin collagen, a fibrous protein that provides strength, resilience, and support to the skin and other tissues.

Itchy Skin:  Menopause can often trigger skin changes like itchy skin, also known as prurtis, can trigger disruption in your life especially if it causes significant discomfort or disrupts sleep.

The most underlying cause of itchy skin is hormonal changes.

Self Care of Skin :

  • Good diet ; increase intake of Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
  • Increase of Vitamin B as its crucial to skin health
  • Increase Water Intake: Hydrate the skin
  • Moisturize  the skin, Mineral oil is great and a inexpensive skin moisturizer.
  • Use gentle natural soap products, which are non-irritating.
  • Use of a quality broad spectrum sunscreen
  • Avoid external irritants; smoke, excess sun exposure, stress and lack of sleep

Androgenic  Alopecia:  loss of scalp hair, this is due to the influence of the male hormone testosterone. It results in a receding hairline at the temples (aka widow’s peak) for most women as we age. In more extreme instances, women may thin in a diffuse generalized pattern across the entire scalp.

Fine Lines : Remember, you lose approximately 1% of collagen per year after the age of 40 as well as in response to the loss of estrogens, despite HRT (hormone replacement therapy). Start your products now and do not let up once you are happy with the results. It is far easier to prevent lines than eradicate them.

Unwanted Facial Hair:  Yup,  You too may  had to deal with plucking in areas you NEVER thought you would.

Ways to keep your skin glowing during Menopause!

Building collagen and eslastic fibers is the best way to keep skin youthful

  • Creams that build collagen
  • Exfoliate the skin with sea salts
  • Just add a little oil to your bath or shower water, ( avocado, sesame, jojoba, coconut, sea buckthorn )
  • Infrared saunas
  • An apple a day !
  • Eat more MUFA s! Like dark chocolate ! keeps the skin moisturized with monounsaturated fatty acids
  • Alternate the Humidity in your house
  • Keep your shower on the cooler side, to help prevent dry itchy skin

Vaginal Dryness – A Little Talked about Subject

I  remember a while ago when  I suggested to the host of a radio show I co hosted on that I wanted to talk about vaginal dryness ,he seemed quite uncomfortable about it . Unfortunately that is true for many health care practitioners. Many fail to ask their patient if they have any issues and so many women suffer in silence. Only 15% of health care practitioners ask their patients about atrophy, even though most women would like to be asked about their sexual health. An estimated 50% of post menopausal women are affected with vaginal atrophy and only 7%  are receiving prescription treatment.Vaginal dryness makes women feel old interferes ,with quality of life, and has a negative effect on a woman’s sex life.

So the facts it is not if but when you will experience vaginal dryness during menopause.

There are many causes of vaginal dryness,menopause,medications,contraceptives,antibiotics, vaginitis,atrophy and auto immune diseases and diabetes.. A large percentage of women will develop vaginal problems such as dryness and changes in acidityand a decrease in natural bacteria, yeast infections and a decrease in the natural protective enzyme action, and changes in vaginal fluid and lubrication as they age.

Symptoms of vaginal atrophy include dryness burning, itching, painful sex, bleeding with intercourse, recurrent urinary tract infections and urinary frequency. These issues worsen over time and are not limited to women that are sexually active.

Natural non hormonal remedies include natural coconut oil, sea buckthorn oil probiotics; most vegetable oils .various lubricants are available for use as needed with intercourse. Moisturisers are available for long term use of vaginal atrophy such as Replens,Pre-Meno,avoid products containing propylene glycol,and parabens.

Hormonal estrogen is also available from a practitioner on prescription.Despite concerns of cancer vaginal estrogen is very low dose and not systemically absorbed to any extent and is considered safe for most women. It is available in the form of creams,rings,and tablets. Estradiol and estrone is available in North America. However estriol which has been shown to be more effective for urinary issues is available from your compounding pharmacist.

Lifestyle modifications are smoking cessation and increased sexual activity. Sounds like a good recommendation!

So talk to your health care practitioner about your sexual health today.

Is it Menopause?

Are you experiencing problems with insomnia, changes in mood, irritability,decreased sexual libido, hot flashes or night sweats that interfere with sleep  or daily functioning? Are there memory or other cognitive problems? Are there palpitations,or anxiety, worsening of depression,or premenstrual symptoms? Are you suffering with vaginal dryness , urinary incontinence or increased urinary tract infections? Do you have increased joint pain?

All of these can be signs of declining hormones.

Although menopause is not officially diagnosed till you have not had a period for one full year,these symptoms may happen up to ten years prior and this is referred to as the “change’ or peri-menopause.

Knowing what to expect allows you to be prepared and learn about options to deal with these issues.

Bio identical hormones

This term refers to any hormone that exactly matches those made in the body naturally.Some people may think of theses as natural, however all hormones need to be synthesized in the lab, and all of them in Canada need a prescription for use. Most hormones bio-identical or synthetic as in birth control pills are made from yams or soy so they could be all considered natural source. Bio-identical hormones are estriol, progesterone, testosterone, estradiol, DHEA, cortisol, some are available commercially i.e. all forms of the estrogen patch, and micronized oral progesterone. They do not have to be compounded by a compounding pharmacy, however some such as testosterone for women,progesterone cream, and DHEA, are not available from a pharmaceutical company and need to be specifically made for a patient with a physician’s prescription.

Compounding also allows for strengths and formats not available commercially, and for tailoring individual therapy.Hormones synthetic or otherwise may carry risks for certain patients, however bio identical hormones may have advantages over synthetic ones.

Hormone testing,saliva,blood,urine?What’s the best way to test, do you need to test?

This needs to be discussed with your practitioner. However if you are having symptoms related to hormonal imbalances it may be useful to get hormone levels, to assess which hormones need to be replaced.Testing may also be needed for dosing, monitoring of treatment, and  to avoid side effects.

Blood urine and saliva may all be appropriate in different patients, and the form of hormones used.

Blood tests measure the hormones carried in the blood that include free and bound hormones,this is not always correlated to levels of hormones available to the tissues.

Hormones measured could include estradiol, estrone, estriol, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA-S-, cortisol, FSH, and LH.

Salivary testing is non invasive and may be more convenient especially for testing cortisol levels through the day but is not covered by OHIP.

For more information please feel free to contact me.