Changing the Way We Think About Menopause
Menopause is the most widely mismanaged health problem facing women today. As a result, millions of women needlessly suffer, the quality of their lives and that of their families is compromised, they die prematurely, and billions of healthcare dollars are needlessly spent each year.
Why is menopause so mismanaged? Primarily because it is so misunderstood. So, changing the way we manage menopause starts with changing the way we think about it. In other words, it starts with understanding menopause – what it is, what it isn’t, when and how it starts, how long it lasts, what you can do to effectively and safely treat it, and the implications of not doing so.
What is Menopause?
Menopause is the permanent loss of the sex hormone system — a condition that affects your health for the rest of your life. It is not just a period of irritating symptoms that simply go away after a few years and then it’s over.
Menopause happens when your body is no longer able to produce estradiol (the estrogen made in your ovaries) and progesterone.
Typically, this “change of life” is accompanied by a number of classic symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, hair loss, and weight gain.
Even if you don’t feel the loss of your sex hormones from these or other symptoms, you still need to address the health consequences of losing them.
The failure to do so has far reaching health implications that lead to accelerated aging and the premature onset of such degenerative diseases as heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s dementia, osteoporosis, and strokes. To put this statement in perspective, let’s take a few moments to focus on how your body works.
Your Body is a System of Interdependent Systems
In order to understand the effects that menopause has on you and your health, you must first understand that the human body is a system of interdependent systems and subsystems. Your digestive system, your nervous system, your circulatory system, your immune system, your endocrine system, etc. – all of these major systems of your body depend on the peak performance of every other system and subsystem of your body for their optimal performance. When one system or subsystem is not functioning optimally or is out of balance, the other systems of the body become out of balance in varying degrees that get worse over time. These systemic imbalances are collectively known as metabolic imbalance.
The system that regulates the production and use of the body’s hormones is called the endocrine system. The endocrine system is made up of interdependent subsystems such as the insulin system, the adrenal gland system, the thyroid system, the sex hormone system, etc. When any of these hormone subsystems is compromised – no longer functioning at peak levels – all of the other sub-systems of the endocrine system are impacted. In turn, all of the interdependent organ systems of the body are also affected and, thus, the body as a whole is compromised.
Hormones are chemicals that tell the cells of the body what to do; they are absolutely essential for life. In some cases, the absence of a hormone such as insulin or cortisol can cause immediate death. In other cases, as with the sex hormones, the physical manifestations are not as severe and their symptoms and resulting conditions are not as clearly associated with them.
Many such symptoms and resulting conditions of menopause such as high cholesterol, increased blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, and weight gain are all too often mistaken for symptoms of other problems or simply attributed to aging or genetics.
As a result, they are frequently mistreated because their cause is not identified.
Menopause Accelerates Aging and Leads to Degenerative Disease
As explained above, menopause is the permanent loss of the sex hormone system — a subsystem of the endocrine system. Over time, every woman loses her ability to produce the two primary female sex hormones — estradiol (the estrogen made in her ovaries) and progesterone. When the sex hormone subsystem is out of balance, then the entire endocrine system is out of balance and, consequently, every other system of the body is compromised, resulting in metabolic imbalance.
Metabolic imbalance accelerates the natural aging process. The greater the imbalance, the more the aging process is accelerated.
Conversely, the better able you are to maintain your metabolic balance, the slower you will age. This is what I call successful aging!
Aging makes us more susceptible to degenerative disease. Most people think that their predisposition to degenerative diseases is primarily a function of their genetics — “my mother had breast cancer” or “my father had heart disease.” This belief is incorrect. In 1999, I published my first book, The Schwarzbein Principle, to debunk this very belief. In essence, The Schwarzbein Principle is:
“The degenerative diseases of aging are not genetic; they are caused by metabolic imbalance.”
I formulated The Schwarzbein Principle based on over a decade of clinical research from treating literally thousands of patients with various metabolic disorders. Through this experience, I was able to correlate the occurrence of degenerative diseases with long-term metabolic imbalance.
Since I published my first book in 1999, I have paid particular attention to menopause and its causal effects on not just the degenerative diseases of aging, but also on the myriad conditions and syndromes that lead to these degenerative diseases. In doing so, I have confirmed both the accuracy of the Schwarzbein Principle – that degenerative diseases do, indeed, spring from metabolic imbalance – and the fact that menopause is a primary cause of metabolic imbalance.
As alluded to above, all too often, symptoms and conditions such as high cholesterol, increased blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, and weight gain are falsely attributed to genetics or to “just getting older.” In fact, all of these conditions and dozens of others are usually telltale signs of the metabolic imbalance caused or exacerbated by menopause See: Blame It On Menopause
However, since their cause is not accurately understood, they are frequently misdiagnosed and mistreated as independent syndromes and conditions. As a result, the critically important, causal, metabolic imbalance goes untreated, the aging process is still accelerated, and, in many cases, the mistreatment of the condition “adds insult to injury.” Giving statin drugs such as Lipitor® to menopausal women is a frequent example of compounding the problem, because statin drugs have their own damaging side effects.
Menopause Must Be Properly Treated to Forestall Aging and Degenerative Disease
The most common, current method for managing menopause – treating the symptoms instead of rebalancing all of the body’s hormone systems – does nothing to address the metabolic imbalance caused by menopause which, in turn, accelerates aging, leads to numerous conditions and syndromes, and contributes to the onset of the degenerative diseases of aging.
If you want live a long and healthy life, you must correctly address the loss of the sex hormones.
The only effective and safe way to treat the hormone imbalance caused by menopause is Hormone Balancing Therapy (HBTx™). HBTx is the protocol I have used successfully for over twenty years to rebalance the sex hormone system of thousands of women in menopause. It is a time-tested, clinically validated method that slows down the aging process and helps forestall the onset of the degenerative diseases of aging. And, of course, by treating the cause — restoring the missing sex hormones — the symptoms of menopause are also treated. See: “Menopause Treatment: Treat the Problem Not Just the Symptoms With Bioidentical Hormones
A Final Note:
If you are one of those fortunate women who does not suffer from the classic symptoms of menopause, from hot flashes, night sweats, hair loss, irritability, and vaginal dryness, etc., don’t be fooled. Even though you don’t have such symptoms and conditions to remind you, inevitably, the loss of estradiol and progesterone will still cause metabolic imbalance that accelerates aging and contributes to degenerative disease. You still need to restore your missing hormones to rebalance your endocrine system, restore metabolic balance, and enable your body to function at its best, so you can live a long and healthy life!
To your health and happiness,
Diana Schwarzbein, MD