Every woman will experience menopause at some time in her life. Most women begin to experience symptoms between the age of 40 and their mid-50s. Some women will experience what is called surgical menopause due to the surgical removal of ovaries.
No matter when menopause begins, it is important for us to know what is happening to our bodies, how to minimize the symptoms and side effects, and to be aware of new risks we face with estrogen no longer protecting our bodies.
Some of the symptoms of entering menopause include irregular menses, hot flashes, night sweats, migraines and a change in sex drive. While going through these changes it is easy to become caught up in the symptoms. There are various treatments to help minimize the discomfort – both through drugs and also through holistic treatments.
The most important issue of menopause is the long-term affects of lowered levels of estrogen.
- Osteoporosis bone loss begins as soon as estrogen levels drop; bones become thin, fragile and prone to fracture.
- Heart Disease is the number one killer of women. Normal estrogen levels greatly reduce the risk of dying from this killer.
HRT – Hormone Replacement Therapy – is beneficial in many ways. Replacing the estrogen in our bodies eliminates the symptoms of menopause as well as delaying the increased risks of osteoporosis and heart disease. But, some in the medical field believe those benefits may come at a price. Estrogen increases our risk of:
- Breast cancer
- Cancer of the uterus
- Developing blood clots
- Developing gallstones
It is also believed in some medical circles that p be taken with the estrogen replacement reduces the natural risks of estrogen. Unfortunately, HRT is a fairly new treatment and all long-term effects are not yet known.
There are a number of natural herbs that some believe work as effectively as HRT. Again, studies are insufficient to know if these herbs are fully effective in protecting a woman from the effects of lower estrogen. Also, studies are inconclusive in identifying their long-term side effects, if any.
As much as we can and should prepare for menopause, it is obvious that science has left us to struggle with a decision that must be made without all known issues. Each woman must make the decision of using HRT or herb-treatments or nothing at all. We can only evaluate the risks in light of our own beliefs and existing risks and conditions.
For myself, I found there is also sadness that the option to reproduce will no longer be available to me. Although I face a closure of what has been an important part of my life, it is also the beginning of a time where life will offer a different focus and spirit. As is always available in nature, it is a beginning to explore.