The Mystery of ‘Normal’ Menopause with Dr. Meena Malhotra of Heal n Cure in GlenviewApr 29, 2022 ● By Meena Malhotra
Photo credit Adobe Stock
By the year 2030, the global population will include approximately 1.2 billion women that have entered menopause, a phase in life when menstruation has stopped for 12 or more months. Typically, it starts between the ages of 45 and 53, and symptoms vary, including hot flashes, sleep disruption, sudden weight gain, anxiety, loss of bone density, thinning hair and decreased sex drive.
A common misconception is that estrogen goes down with menopause, but most peri- and postmenopausal women have plenty of estrogen, although many other hormones get out of whack. Even though menopause is natural, many women are not ready to give up on life when it hits. They still want and deserve the same quality of life as in earlier years.
What women can do to preserve and maintain their quality of life
Menopause has been linked to risk of several chronic diseases, like increased risk for cardiometabolic disease, fatigue, diabetes, hypertension and abdominal obesity. Hormonal changes in aging patients have also been associated with greater risk of frailty and disability, likely due to disruptions along several hormonal axes, rather than deficiency of a single hormone. The Mediterranean Diet has a cardioprotective effect for women during perimenopause and menopause; of course, adherence matters.
Chronic stress brings unfavorable biochemical, neurological and cellular changes to a woman’s body. When ovaries start to shrivel during “normal” menopause, the adrenal gland, responsible for energy, mental clarity and mood, comes to the rescue and provides relief.
Menopausal suffering becomes more pronounced when perimenopausal stress has burned out the adrenal glands, leaving the body devoid of this natural relief, a condition called adrenal fatigue.
Thus stress management with deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation and aerobic activity play an important role. Vegan diets report less bothersome vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes.
Toxicity accumulated over decades interferes with neural signaling in the body. Common examples are endocrine-disrupting chemicals embedded in products such as pesticides, plastics (BPA), chemical drugs (parabens) and heavy metals. Even personal hygiene products have been linked to creating hormonal imbalance, producing emotional lability and non-restorative sleep.
A structured detoxification using all natural foods can help alleviate these symptoms. Fruits and vegetables may help alleviate symptoms of increased inflammation. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, especially, contain glucosinolates that help the body send estrogen metabolites down a pathway to prevent and suppress the development of hormone-modulated female cancers.
Health, wellness, and beauty are part of a healthy lifestyle
Thinning hair is a common quality-of-life
issue. All of the hormones—estrogen, progesterone, thyroid and insulin—need to
be working in harmony for lush, shiny, smooth and youthful hair. Their
imbalance during menopause causes thinning. Adequate intake of protein and
vegetables help support hair, but only in a setting of balanced hormones.
Two important enzymes that are gatekeepers for estrogen and testosterone metabolism are aromatase and 5-alpha reductase. Aromatase can affect the conversion of testosterone to estrogens, and 5-alpha reductase can affect the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Modulating these enzymes at the follicle level help strengthen weakened or dormant hair follicles.
Good communication is key to having the body working well as a system. Hormones are important messengers. As these messengers begin to cease function or malfunction through menopause, this presents as a wide variety of chronic conditions, and women begin to feel abnormal even in this “normal” stage of life.Meena Malhotra, M.D., is the medical director and owner of Heal n Cure, 2420 Ravine Way, Ste. 400, in Glenview. To get started with a hormonal balancing plan, call 847-686-4444 or visit HealNCure.com.