Definitions & Terms
Andropause: The male equivalent of menopause. As a result of aging, the male body often suffers from low testosterone which has naturally been depleted. Often men suffer needlessly from testosterone deficiency either because the condition goes unrecognized or simply because men are timid about addressing and discussing a loss in their vitality. Early symptoms of andropause can be as subtle as decreased energy levels, loss of muscle tone, and a less frequent desire for sexual intercourse. Further symptoms can include weight gain, pot or “beer bellies,” mood swings and irritability, forgetfulness, enlarged male breasts, and even erectile dysfunction.
Bio-identical hormones: Bio-identical hormones are compounds that have exactly the same chemical and molecular structure as hormones that are produced in the human body.
Depression: It has been reported that declining or fluctuating hormone levels in addition to chronically high levels of stress hormones can all lead to depression. Women are, therefore, especially vulnerable to depression starting during perimenopause and lasting into late menopause. Frequently hot flashes and depression occurring with estrogen deficiency are treated with anti-depressants. These drugs are used to ease hot flashes and depression, but why treat the symptoms when you should be treating the deficiency? Studies have shown that women developing depression in the first few months of menopause responded well to hormone replacement without using antidepressants.
Diminished muscle tone: Declining testosterone levels result in muscle cells with smaller fiber size and therefore less strength. With a decrease in muscle mass, there is an increase in body fat. Testosterone replacement can improve muscle strength, stamina, vitality, and general sense of well-being.
Dry skin: Estrogen is known as the great moisturizer. Menopause and the declining levels of estrogen are directly linked to signs of aging. As the face has many estrogen receptors, low estrogen often shows itself through wrinkles and dry skin caused by less productive oil glands as well as thinner, looser skin due to less collagen production.
Estrogen: Estrogen is a hormone produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands. Men produce estrogen from conversion of testosterone, although this is an extremely small amount. Estrogen protects against heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and memory disorders. It protects against vaginal atrophy, urinary incontinence, and urinary tract infections. It prevents symptoms of menopause and improves overall well-being.
Hormones: Hormones are molecules that are synthesized and secreted by specialized cells often localized in endocrine glands. Hormones are released into the blood stream and exert biochemical effects on target cells. Hormone action is determined by the presence of specific hormone receptors located either on the cell surface or intra-cellularly in the target cells. Hormones turn on the cellular machinery and therefore cause increased metabolism, increase in protein synthesis, increase in cellular repair, and increase in cell replication. All aspects of aging are influenced by hormones. As we age cellular receptor sites become less sensitive to stimulation by hormones, thus requiring an increased amount of hormone to affect a cellular change. This is precisely why people need optimal levels of hormones.
Hot flashes: Women describe their experience in different ways. Symptoms range from feeling flushed, sweaty, hot and cold, or feverish. Many say they literally feel like the heat is coming from the inside of their bodies and that this fluctuation in temperature can come in a flash or can last for days on end. The hot flashes occur when blood vessels open widely, letting more blood flow to the head and neck causing heat, redness, and frequently perspiration. Sometimes it occurs at night (night sweats). These hot flashes are usually over in a few seconds, but they always arrive unexpectedly and at the most inconvenient times. They are triggered by falling estrogen levels.
Insomnia: Sleep occurs when body temperature begins to fall. Heat is lost through the skin and we become drowsy. Shifting hormonal levels during the night upset the mechanisms our bodies use to regulate our body temperature and as a result, we no longer obtain a good night’s sleep.
Irritability: Hormone imbalance will often cause irritability, headaches, and sexual difficulties in both men and women.
Low sex drive: The decline in sex drive (libido) continues steadily in approximately 30% of 30-year-old women to 50% of 50-year-old women. Testosterone is the hormone of sexual desire. Decreased desire for sex is caused by an imbalance in the hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
Menopause: Menopause is the permanent end of menstruation and fertility and a natural biological process, not a medical illness. It is a phase in life where the body begins to change, which puts you at risk for certain illnesses.
Mental fogginess/poor focus: Waking at night and poor focus; these two symptoms are linked together because poorer quality sleep interferes with rapid eye movements (REM) during sleep. REM is critical to all kinds of thought processes such as problem solving and short-term memory. Going without adequate sleep over time can impair these cognitive functions leading to a decreased ability to focus and concentrate as well as a decline in memory.
Mood swings: It is normal for menopausal women to be easily upset. Estrogen levels may fluctuate significantly; particularly during perimenopause. These types of hormonal shifts will often precipitate mood swings, as well as irritability, headaches, sleep disturbances, hot flashes, and sexual difficulties.
Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a chronic degenerative bone disease. Studies show that by their 40’s both women and men are losing bone at a rate of approximately 0.5 percent a year. We now know that a declining level of sex hormones plays a significant role in the development of bone loss and osteoporosis.
Progesterone: Progesterone is a female hormone produced by the ovaries and is used to balance estrogen. It is necessary for the initiation and maintenance of pregnancy. Women in menopause lose progesterone, which protects against uterine cancer, breast cancer, osteoporosis, and heart disease.
Synthetic: Synthetic refers to anything man-made or not of natural origin.
Testosterone: Testosterone is the hormone responsible for the sex drive of both men and women. In women, testosterone is produced both in the ovaries and the adrenal glands and is an important hormone for normal female sexual development. In men, a lack of testosterone can result in a reduction of energy, strength, and libido. Testosterone can restore muscle tone and improve stamina. It can restore healthy sexual excitement and desire, which in turn, results in an improvement in mood and overall well-being.
Urinary incontinence: The vagina, bladder, and urethra all have estrogen receptor sites. These receptor cells are very sensitive to falling levels of estrogen. In addition, low testosterone results in diminished muscle tone, making it harder to control the muscles that allow you to hold back the need to urinate.
Vaginal dryness: Vaginal thinning and dryness often accompanies perimenopause and menopause. Replacing missing hormones will relieve vaginal dryness, reduce bladder leakage, and improve the quality of your skin and hair.
Weight gain: Starting as early as ten years prior to menopause, hormone levels decline. During these menopausal years, a woman’s body is making less estrogen and her body tries to find hormones in other places such as fat cells. As fat cells generate estrogen, the body begins storing more fat. At the same time, a woman’s body is losing testosterone which leads to declining lean muscle. Since lean muscle is responsible for burning fat, the more muscle lost, the more fat will be stored and more weight gained.