Hormone replacement in peri menopause.
A funny thing happened to me about a year ago. I had gone to see my MD about my menstrual cycle and about how heavy it had become. Without asking too many questions she provided just one solution to me – the Pill!
I actually giggled a little at this suggestion as I was 47 at the time.
So I gently asked her if she had any other suggestions, and she didn’t.
This couldn’t be the only option could it? After all my last baby was 8 years ago so I think I have the birth control thing down pat.
What concerned me about our meeting was that she didn’t ask me any questions other than “how are your periods now?”. There were no questions about my health, any PMS symptoms, my diet, what I might already have tried etc.
So I contacted a good friend of mine and she suggested I ask for a referral to an OB.
I visited the OB a few weeks later and he confirmed I had fibroids and offered me another drug that would stop my menstrual cycle until I could get in to see a surgeon to have my fibroids removed.
Again, no questions about my diet, my stress levels, he didn’t even want to see the hormone panel I had brought with me.
So I left the office a little shocked. I knew what I had to do! I drove directly to my compounding pharmacist and talked it over with him. He wanted to see my hormone panel, he asked in depth questions about my menstrual cycle and offered me some solutions.
So why was I offered the Pill in the first place? Well the Pill is a commercial product, it has a patent, it can be bought and sold and its a question of economics for both MD’s and the drug companies.
Why wasn’t I offered bioidentical hormones? Because they cannot be patented, there are no financial incentives for the pharmaceutical companies to do expensive research on them.
The more I read the more I found that synthetic hormones (such as the pill) are made by altering the molecular structure of the hormone just enough so that it can be patented and sold for profit.
By taking an OC (oral contraceptive) you could very well not know when you reach menopause. In my opinion this form of treatment in a women who is in perimenopause is simply a bandaid, a cover up, the root cause is not being addressed and if she has imbalanced hormones, this will further exacerbate the imbalance and lead to further issues down the road.
“A common misconception that women have about their menstrual cycle is that the birth control pill (BCP) is prescribed to regulate their cycle. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It is important that medical professionals start referring to the birth control pill for what it is: a suppressive hormonal therapy that overrides the natural production of hormones” 1.
“Birth control pills (also known as oral contraceptive pills) mask many of the signs of menopause,” says Barbara DePree, MD, director of Women’s Midlife Health Services at Holland Hospital in Holland, Mich. “They work by suppressing the ovarian function; therefore, there is no significant output of estrogen or progesterone from the ovary while on the pill. Instead, oral contraceptive pills add back a fixed amount of synthetic estrogen and progestin daily while the ovary sits by idly.” 2.
This means that while birth control pills can relieve many of the unpleasant side effects of menopause, they can also mask the fact that a woman has undergone “the change” and make diagnosing menopause more difficult”
Of course while you are in perimenopause, in fact until you are truly in menopause (exactly 12 months from your last period), you can still become pregnant. If you are not using any other form of birth control an OC may be an option for you, but keep checking on your levels of copper, zinc, B Vitamins, Selenium, Magnesium and Vitamin C.
So what can you do if you suspect you are in perimenopause, your in your mid to late 40’s, done with having children and experiencing very heavy or painful periods?
1. Get a hormone panel done. This way you will know where your hormones are at and have it documented.
2. Explore your options, see whether an OC or bioidentical hormones are right for you.
3. Work with a hormone specialist and a compounding pharmacist to get a plan in action to cover lifestyle, diet and potentially bioidentical hormones.
4. Be your own health advocate! Know your hormones and where they are at, keep a copy of all your tests, take action and listen to your gut, what feels right for you!