Perimenopause and Menopause Symptoms, the Medical Medium and Women’s Innate Health.
Is it hot in here or is it just that perimenopause and menopause have transformed you into a reliable source of renewable energy, or a major contributor to global warming?
(I can see the second idea taking off in certain political circles, but before climate change is blamed on women experiencing perimenopause and menopause, that was a JOKE!)
Call them hot flashes (or power surges) in the day, night sweats when you wake up stuck to your pajamas (or the moments at 3am that convince you you're about to die), the heat women experience at midlife can be disruptive. Add that to mood swings, depression, panic attacks, brain fog, insomnia, skin problems, vaginal dryness, loss of libido, frequent migraines, digestive issues and a host of other perimenopause and menopause symptoms, and midlife sounds like one big party – the party where dancing is out of the question!
So what’s going on and why is a perfectly normal part of a woman’s life-cycle creating such a mess in women’s lives?
Honestly, perimenopause and menopause symptoms remain quite the medical mystery.
Nonetheless, standard medical treatment since the 1960s has been hormone-based intervention in an attempt to “fix” estrogen levels.
Today doctors may also suggest life-style changes – a healthier diet and stress reduction – to help ease women’s symptoms. As I pointed out in this summary of recent research findings, doctors can no longer ignore the fact that the overwhelming majority of perimenopause and menopause symptoms are not effectively treated by hormone therapy, and hormone therapy offers no benefit in disease prevention (despite what some doctors, including your own, might continue to claim).
As question marks remain regarding the treatment of perimenopause and menopause symptoms, and biodentical hormone therapies remain under-researched, there is an expanded focus not only on women’s “malfunctioning hormones” but also on women’s malfunctioning thyroid, adrenal glands and immune systems. Spend time where midlife women hang out (in real life or in the virtual world) and you’ll notice just how many women have been diagnosed with disorders. Add that to the number of midlife women being treated for depression and anxiety and you might be mistaken to believe that no matter how we look at it, women are destined to malfunction at midlife.
So are we?
The American Thyroid Association states that women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems; one woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime; and women over 50 are most likely to have Hypothyroidism. The causes of thyroid problems are largely unknown.
The American Journal of Pathology points to the disproportionately large numbers of women who are diagnosed with autoimmune diseases, such as Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis (which are growing among the population). While approximately 8% of people in the US have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, 79% of them are women.
So what is going on with women’s health?
In his fascinating review of perimenopause and menopause in his best-selling book Medical Medium: Secrets Behind Chronic and Mystery Illness and How to Finally Heal, Anthony William suggests that the symptoms that we associate with perimenopause and menopause (which often appear similar to symptoms from thyroid, adrenal or autoimmune disorders) were seldom mentioned in medical literature until the mid-20th century. He concludes that prior to this time women were able to view menopause in a positive light. (More about this later.)
When in the 1950s, a wave of women in their 40s and 50s, starting turning up at doctors’ surgeries desperate for relief from night sweats, hot flashes, anxiety, brain fog, joint pain and more, the medical world decided they were deficient in hormones.