Chapter 2.18 - Menopause
In this chapter, Dr. Donache presents Complementary/Alternative Medical (C.A.M.) Therapies for menopause.
The chapter includes an overview of the conventional treatment methods for the approach of menopause, and alternative therapies, including Bio-Energetic therapies, Bodywork and Movement therapies, and Mental / Emotional treatments.
This chapter is taken from Dr. Donache's upcoming book, Finding Balance - Integrating Complementary/Alternative Medical (C.A.M.) Therapies for the Prevention of the Top 30 Diseases in America. Each section of chapter 2, which describes alternative treatments for each of the top diseases, is available as a free download on this website.
Table of Contents
Glossary of Terms Used in this Chapter
Additional Disease Descriptions and Treatments Available for Download
Table of Contents
- ABOUT THIS DOCUMENT
- CONVENTIONAL APPROACHES
- Treatment and Management
- Hormone Replacement Therapy
- Nonhormonal Treatment
- Other Ways to Cope with Symptoms
- Keeping Bones Strong
- Issues and Answers
- Support Groups
- BIO-ENERGETIC THERAPIES
BODYWORK AND MOVEMENT THERAPIES
- Nutrition and Supplements
- Enzymatic Therapies
- Rainforest and Western Herbs
- Rainforest Herbs
- Western Herbs
- Homeopathic Remedies
- Essential Oils
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL SUPPORT
- Therapeutic Bodywork and Massage
- Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Hatha Yoga Postures
- PRODUCT ORDERING INFORMATION
- GLOSSARY OF TERMS
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Menopause, also referred to as the "change of life", is the time when the ovaries stop producing eggs and menstrual cycles end--usually happens naturally when a woman is about 50. It is a natural and normal part of life - "dis-ease" is a more appropriate term.
Many women enter menopause as early as 40 or as late as 60. During the time when these changes occur in the reproductive organs, many women experience a cluster of symptoms, which may be short-term or acute including:
- hot flashes
- night sweats
- mood swings
- poor libido
- bladder problems
- vaginal dryness and itching
- burning and discomfort during sexual intercourse
- breast tenderness
- dryness and aging of skin
- shortness of breath
- heart palpitations
All of these symptoms are due to estrogen and progesterone deficiency.
Menopause is a process that unfolds over several years and is unique for each woman. Doctors divide it into three stages:
- Perimenopause, a transitional time when hormone levels become unstable, lasting anywhere from 5 to 10 years.
- Menopause itself, the time when menstrual periods have stopped.
- Postmenopause, the time that follows menopause, when hormones have stabilized at a lower level.
Surgical menopause may be brought about at any age, and occurs instantly after removal of the ovaries.
There is an interactive loop between the pituitary which produces follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and the ovaries which produce estrogen and progesterone. FSH causes a follicle in the ovaries to mature into an egg. The egg is released into a fallopian tube during ovulation. If intercourse has occurred, the egg may be fertilized by a sperm. Meanwhile, estrogen and progesterone prompt the uterine lining to develop in preparation for a fertilized egg. They also signal the pituitary to decrease FSH levels until the next cycle. If fertilization does not occur, estrogen and progesterone levels drop, causing the uterine lining to be shed during the menstrual period. As a woman approaches menopause, less estrogen and progesterone are produced by the ovaries. Decreasing levels of these ovarian hormones actually signal the pituitary to release more FSH. Altered estrogen and progesterone levels may cause signs and symptoms of menopause.
Menopause may bring changes, prompting the need for women to monitor their health with a thorough exam and with attention to certain tests if indicated:
- A Pap smear;
- A mammogram;
- A blood test to measure cholesterol levels;
- A bone density test to check for early signs of osteoporosis, if your doctor finds you are at risk.
Hormonal changes associated with menopause may affect the bones and can subsequently lead to osteoporosis. Heart attack rates in postmenopausal women start increasing sharply. Preventive measures become more important. Unpleasant feelings can occur in some women and may be associated with hormonal fluctuations, such as vaginal atrophy. It may help to talk with family and friends and let them know what you're experiencing.
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Glossary of Terms
- A mineral necessary for building strong bones; dairy products, green and leafy vegetables and sardines are examples of foods rich in calcium.
- A major female hormone released by the follicle of the ovary; together with progesterone, it causes development of the uterine lining; low levels of these hormones cause the uterus to shed its lining, along with the unfertilized egg; estrogen slows down loss of calcium from bones and increases its absorption from foods.
- Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
- A hormone that causes the growth of a follicle in the ovary; the follicle ruptures at ovulation and releases its egg into the fallopian tubes; the follicle also produces estrogen and progesterone.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
- Treatment to replace the hormones that are reduced after menopause; usually includes both estrogen and progesterone.
- Kegel Exercises
- Tensing and relaxing of muscles surrounding the urethra, vagina and anus; should be done for a few second several times a day to improve bladder control and elasticity of the vagina.
- The time in a woman's life when menstruation ends.
- A condition in which the bones thin and are prone to fracture (especially at risk: wrist, spine and hip).
- The paired female reproductive organs that contain follicles where eggs are produced.
- Pituitary Gland
- A gland located at the base of the brain that produces several hormones including FSH.
- A major female hormone (see Estrogen for other details).
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