Vaginal Dryness with Menopause
The cause of hot flashes may be elusive, but vaginal dryness is a direct consequence of decreased estrogen. When estrogen levels drop, it takes a few years for the effects to be noticed, but eventually the reduction in estrogen leads to dryness and thinning of the cells in the vagina and genital area. Low levels of testosterone are also a contributing factor in vaginal dryness since testosterone is responsible for maintaining healthy tissue integrity.
Menopause and Your Skin
Many women complain of a significant loss of skin elasticity with the onset of menopause. Estrogen is known to keep skin looking younger and more elastic. For some women, this may be an indication for estrogen replacement therapy. It is important to remember that estrogens must always be balanced with progesterone and to be used in the smallest effective dose.
Sleep Disturbance and Menopause
Sleep disturbances may be an issue with menopause.
Estrogen deficiencies contribute directly and indirectly to sleep disturbances. Estrogen replacement therapy has been shown to improve sleep in symptomatic menopausal women. Estrogen deficiency also affects sleep indirectly as night sweats can make it impossible to sleep through the night. Supplementation with progesterone particularly oral progesterone can improve sleep quality.
Concentration and Memory Problems During Menopause
Another symptom relating to the change of menstrual status with age is poor concentration and foggy thinking. Estrogen is needed for the transport of glucose into the brain, which means that too little estrogen leads to energy starved brain cells and foggy thinking. Supplementing with too much progesterone can also contribute to foggy thinking. Too much cortisol can impair memory, as can a lack of testosterone. If foggy thinking is a major symptom, it is advisable to do salivary hormone testing to confirm which of the hormones is responsible, and to make corrections to the hormone imbalances.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement (BHRT)
BHRT refers to the therapeutic use of hormones that are identical in every way to the hormone produced naturally in the body. Diagnostic testing (salivary testing) identifies hormonal imbalances that are then addressed with the use of BHRT. Bio-identical hormones used in BHRT include estradiol, estrone, estriol, progesterone and testosterone. Cortisol may be supplemented in cases of cortisol deficiency, but cortisol is not normally considered part of BHRT.
See your healthcare provider before taking hormones.