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Talk to any woman approaching forty these days and she will probably tell you she is dreading “the change”. Menopause. While the clinical definition for menopause is a year after the last full menstrual period, the symptoms often begin years before.

You may be talking with a friend and abruptly feel a hot flush that leaves you in a sudden sweat. It could just as easily show itself in the form of irritability about the smallest things at work or home. We all know what these new emotions and feelings are; they herald the onset of “the change” or menopause.

Many women will deny it, afraid that it also means the end of an active life and the beginning of her “senior years”. Others embrace it as a sign of yet another cycle in a full life. No matter which way you are facing this change, it doesn’t have to be a trial to get through. Like everything else in life, knowledge is power. The first step to making menopause less of a burden is to understand it and know what can be done to mitigate the side effects of these shifts in hormones.

What Are the Early Signs of Menopause?

If you know what to look for the early signs of menopause, often referred to as peri-menopause, are easy to spot. This is the time when the hormones first begin to drop, bringing on some of those early warning signs. Although the early 50s is the average age for the onset of menopause, don’t be surprised if you begin to notice some symptoms a few years earlier. In fact it could be as early as the late 30s for some women. The age that peri-menopause begins can change depending on many factors, but the early signs remain the same. For many women the first thing that they notice will be a change in their monthly periods. They may begin to be erratic in terms of when they happen as well as how light or heavy the flow is each time.

The second most common symptom is a feeling of warmth all across your body at once, known as a hot flush. For some women these can include night sweats where the heat can be so intense that the sheets will be soaked in sweat. For others, it will simply mean a bit of discomfort or being overly warm from time to time. Other symptoms include:

  • A decrease in your sex drive
  • Dryness in the vagina, especially noticeable during sex
  • Some loss of bladder control along with bladder irritability
  • Mood swings, including bouts of depression
  • Difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep
  • Dryness around the mouth, the eyes and especially the skin

But there is one change that just about all women struggle with when the change happens. Menopausal weight gain can be both emotionally and physically challenging to overcome.

Can I Avoid Menopausal Weight Gain?

Around the same time, you experience these symptoms sudden menopausal weight gain can create a host of other problems, especially if it spirals out of control. It will show up primarily around the hips and tummy, but it is important to understand not all of it is due to menopause. Women are going through this change in our hormones at the same time that we also often become less active. It is important to take a close look at your lifestyle and the amount of exercise you are getting if you notice a bit of extra weight in these areas.

While it is true that hormone shifts may result in a tendency to gain weight in the hips and around the belly, attention to diet and exercise can often help women avoid menopausal weight gain. Your metabolism may have changed with the hormone shifts. However, that doesn’t mean you cannot combat this weight gain with a smart plan and some help to keep you on track with your diet and exercise program.

It is possible for menopausal weight gain to be kept under control. It requires having an intelligent plan in place that looks at both the lifestyle changes that come with getting older as well as the hormone shifts that make our bodies redistribute our fat. This is why Shine has developed a program to help women through all the symptoms of menopause that is both inclusive and holistic in its approach.

Another tool that we use to tackle these symptoms of menopause are plant-derived bio-identical hormone treatments. These will reduce the symptoms and reduce the damage caused by menopause to our bodies as well as our sense of well-being.

When Is the Best Time to Start Bio-Identical Hormone Treatment?

There is no one best time to start with bio-identical hormone treatments for menopause symptoms. Some women begin to have some of the symptoms named above as soon as their hormones begin to shift. Others may not experience anything for several months. But these shifts in our hormones are still happening regardless, and the damage to our bodies begins with these changes. Increased risk for breast cancer and heart disease caused by fluctuating hormone levels are two very good reasons to consider bio-identical hormone treatment. Another is for the prevention of bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis. So how do you know if now is the right time?

The best way to determine if you need to begin hormone treatment is to have your hormone levels checked in a thorough exam. This will indicate if your hormones levels are fluctuating and inform your doctor on your individual progress through menopause.

Since many of the symptoms such as night sweats, hot flushes and mood swings are caused by changes in several key hormones, taking hormones to restore that lost balance can have a crucial role in ridding us of these uncomfortable experiences. But when lab-produced synthetic hormones are used for replacement therapy, our bodies recognise the difference. To restore hormonal balance, it is important to have bio-identical hormone treatment because it has a molecular structure our bodies know and recognise. The old saying that it isn’t wise to try to fool Mother Nature is never more true than when we try to create a synthetic version of what our bodies know and recognise.

With the aid of testing to determine our current hormone levels, bio-identical hormones bring our bodies back in harmony by restoring the vital hormones that regulate everything from internal body temperature to appetite and emotional stability. Unseen bonuses such as increased bone density and a strengthening of our immune system help us stay healthy as we age.

The bottom line is that if you are experiencing any of the symptoms named here, getting your hormone levels checked is the smart first step. At Shine, we do a range of tests with a detailed consultation to exclude other causes for the symptoms and to have a thorough understanding of your health, before working with you to identify the best approach.

Here at Shine we know that feeling healthy is about more than just looking healthy, but it certainly is a part of it. With today’s growing body of knowledge about what our bodies need during menopause, there is no longer any reason to experience the uncomfortable symptoms of it, or the health problems that accompany it.

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