As I have previously explained, my motivation for creating Menopause Power is to educate women and physicians about what menopause really is, why and how it undermines a woman’s health, and how to treat it effectively and safely. Why do I feel the need to do so?
It is because menopause is fundamentally misunderstood and mismanaged. The primary reason for this is an abundance of misinformation that has led to false beliefs, confusion, and fear.
I believe that overcoming the mythology that surrounds menopause by providing scientifically based, clinically validated information is the critical key to changing the perception and treatment of menopause.
This article identifies the dominant myths about menopause and provides a brief explanation of why these beliefs are wrong. For each Myth, there is, of course, a longer explanation of the Truth. But, I trust that even so brief an explanation as is provided here will help you appreciate why it is important for you to become more aware and better educated about the inevitable, undermining effect that menopause has on a woman’s health.
Myth 1: Menopause is a natural part of the aging process that does not need to be addressed unless a woman has severe symptoms.
Truth: Women are living longer than “nature” intended us to. Menopause is a natural part of the aging process that results from the loss of the sex hormone system. Because all hormone systems are interdependent, the loss of one hormone system causes the rest of the body’s hormone systems to be out of balance. An imbalance in any of your hormone systems accelerates the aging process, placing you at higher risk for accidents, infections, chronic diseases, and premature death.
Myth 2: The sex hormone system is necessary only to support fertility, your sex drive, and external beauty by decreasing wrinkles enhancing skin and muscle tone, and keeping hair thicker and nails stronger.
Truth: Though all the above benefits of the sex hormone system are real, they are not the only or most important benefits. It is important to understand that all hormone systems play a role in the functioning of all the cells, tissues, glands, and organs of your body. For instance, one of the most overlooked functions of the sex hormone system is its positive effect on the brain. The sex hormones, especially estradiol, the human estrogen produced in your ovaries, have been shown to improve memory, concentration, and recall. Loss of estradiol has also been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. There are many, many more benefits of both estradiol and progesterone – hundreds actually!
Myth 3: The treatment of menopause only needs to address its symptoms, such as hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep disruption – the classic symptoms of menopause. No symptoms? No problem!
Truth: The treatment of menopause must address the underlying hormone deficiency that is causing the symptoms. Simply treating just the symptoms without treating their cause is not enough. There are many ways to treat the symptoms by themselves such as hormone drugs, herbs and other supplements, avoiding certain foods and chemicals, relaxation techniques, etc. But there is only one way to treat the cause of the symptoms. To be clear, the symptoms are not the real problem. The real problem is the hormone deficiency, which exists whether you have symptoms or not. Even if you don’t experience symptoms, you still need to treat the hormone deficiency. The failure to do so ultimately results in metabolic imbalance, which promotes the onset of numerous medical conditions, and increases your risks for the degenerative diseases of aging.
Myth 4: You are done with your menopause once the symptoms have gone away.
Truth: Menopause never ends. Once you begin menopause, you are in it for the rest of your life. The ending of the symptoms simply signals that the process of losing your sex hormone system is nearing completion. Menopause is a permanent hormone deficiency state that undermines your health.
Myth 5: A woman is no longer affected by menopause when she is no longer experiencing any of the classic symptoms of menopause.
Truth: Even when the classic symptoms of menopause are gone, you are still in menopause. Even if you never had any of the classic symptoms, you are still in menopause. Menopause is a permanent hormone deficiency state that causes permanent, metabolic imbalance – unless it is treated correctly. Otherwise, in time, numerous other health problems and conditions result. Though not typically associated with menopause, these health issues such as midsection fat weight gain, high cholesterol, higher blood pressure, higher blood sugar levels, migraine headaches, fatigue, allergies, and many more are caused or made worse by the absence of estradiol and progesterone. How do I know? Because of over 20 years experience with thousands of women who came to me with one or more of these problems, once I restored their sex hormone balance, the problems went away or substantially improved. See: Blame It On Menopause
Myth 6: You do not need to treat menopause because the body inherently has a back-up system to make up for the loss of your sex hormones
Truth: Your body does try to make up for the loss of the sex hormones, but it cannot do so adequately or forever. After about ten years, the full loss of estradiol, the human estrogen predominantly made in the ovaries, begins to make itself very evident in the resulting diminished brain function, musculoskeletal problems, destruction of metabolism, insulin resistant conditions, and/or adrenal gland burnout. This reality is becoming more and more evident now that women are living decades beyond the onset of menopause.
Myth 7: You can treat menopause-related problems after they occur, so you do not need to address menopause until you get into trouble.
Truth: Once a chronic disease results from the loss of the sex hormone system, it cannot always be reversed. A good example of this is Alzheimer’s disease. Once the brain cells have been destroyed, they do not regenerate. Prevention is the best medicine.
Myth 8: All the different prescription hormone preparations used to treat menopause have the same inherent risks.
Truth: All prescription hormone therapies do not have the same associated risks because they do not share the same chemical structure and convey the same messages to the body. There is a significant difference between hormone drugs and bioidentical hormones. Hormone drugs do not have the same chemical structure as the hormones they are intended to replace; bioidentical hormones do. The risks associated with taking hormones for menopause also have a lot to do with not just what you take, but how you take them.
Myth 9: You can take supplemental bioidentical sex hormones in any form and method that is the most convenient. You can use pills, pellets, skin creams, transdermal patches or any other form of supplemental hormones as long as they are bio-identical. Furthermore, as long as they are bio- identical, you can take them any way you want as long as you do not take too high a dosage.
Truth: Each hormone system, itself, is very complex and interacts in complex ways with each of the other hormone systems of the body. Because of these complexities, when a hormone system can no longer make a hormone, you cannot just “fill up” on the lost hormone, even if they are bioidentical. It is extremely important that you honor how your body previously produced and secreted these hormones throughout your menstrual cycle or you will create new hormonal imbalances, the exact thing you are trying to fix.
Myth 10: All bioidentical hormones come from compounding pharmacies; they are not produced by regular pharmaceutical companies and are of lesser quality because they are not regulated by the FDA.
Truth: There are numerous bioidentical hormone products produced by pharmaceutical companies and sold in conventional pharmacies. Remember, for years physicians have been treating various permanent hormone deficiency states (which is what menopause is) such as type 1 diabetes, Addison’s disease, and hypothyroidism with bioidentical hormones. That the FDA does not regulate bioidentical hormones is true. It’s true because bioidentical hormones are not drugs. The bioidentical hormones used by compounding pharmacies to formulate their products are exactly the same as the bioidentical hormones used by pharmaceutical companies to produce their products. They are, in fact, bioidentical. That the FDA does not regulate compounding pharmacies is also true. Neither do they regulate conventional pharmacies. Pharmacies, whether compounding or conventional, are regulated by state laws.
A Final Note
As a result of these false beliefs, women do not realize the undermining health effects that menopause has, they do not seek treatment for their menopause, or they seek to treat only their symptoms. These false beliefs and misconceptions also cause women to receive improper care, care that is either ineffective, harmful, or both.
The decisions about how your menopause is to be managed are yours alone. Given the importance of this decision, the impact it will have on both the quality of your life and your longevity, you owe it to yourself to get the facts. You owe it to yourself to make informed decisions.