Why is menopause so hard for some women?

By Dr. Joe Alaimo, MA, DC

Question?
I’m going through menopause and feel like I’m falling apart. I get severe hot flashes, mood swings that border on psychosis, and my brain isn’t working. Why?

Answer:
As the ovaries begin to wind down production of the sex hormones the adrenal glands, our stress organs, are supposed to take over that job. Unfortunately by the time most women reach menopause their adrenal glands are worn out and not up to the task of making sex hormones.

Chronic stress taxes the hormones
In the face of stress our adrenal glands secrete adrenal hormones to help our bodies cope and adapt. However we were designed to call on this action only on an occasional basis. These days our adrenal glands are on constant red alert.

Factors that activate the adrenal glands include lack of sleep, being over scheduled, excess caffeine, inadequate nutrition from a poor diet, and too many sweets and starchy foods. Lesser known stressors include chronic inflammation, autoimmune disease, overgrowth of yeast and bacteria in the intestinal tract, leaky gut, and chronic viral or bacterial infections.

Hormones are vital for proper function of body and brain
As a woman nears menopause her ovaries begin to produce fewer reproductive hormones, including estrogen and progesterone. Women still depend on these hormones even after fertility for proper function of the brain, thyroid activity, immune system, and other systems in the body.

Because so many women enter menopause with fatigued adrenals, their adrenal glands cannot produce enough sex hormones or produce them in an appropriate manner. The result is deficiencies or swings in hormone production, which disrupts the function and health of other systems in the body. This causes the symptoms so commonly seen today, including hot flashes, memory loss, poor cognition, depression, strong mood swings, and more.

The best option is prevention
Natural medicine offers many solutions to help women transition through this period more safely and comfortably. However the best option is prevention. Ideally a woman will work to shore up her adrenal health, which is a whole-body diet and lifestyle approach, well before menopause.

Working preventively will help prevent or minimize the unpleasant symptoms associated with the transition into menopause.

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About Dr. Joseph Alaimo
Hi, I'm Dr. Joe Alaimo. I've been practicing in Wilmington, NC , since 1995. My primary practice focus is on chronic pain and metabolic conditions.

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