Functional Medicine for Menopause

Causes, Symptoms, & Effective Treatment Options

Introduction:

Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years.

Let’s explore the causes, symptoms, home remedies, treatment options, and our specialized approach to managing menopause effectively with functional medicine.

What is Menopause?

Menopause is a normal, natural process that occurs when a woman’s ovaries cease to produce eggs, and her menstrual cycle stops permanently.

It is typically diagnosed after 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period and usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age of onset being around 51.

A menopausal woman enjoying the improvements from functional medicine.

Causes of Menopause:

Menopause occurs as a result of aging and the decline in ovarian function.

The primary cause is the natural depletion of ovarian follicles, which are the structures in the ovaries that contain eggs. As women age, the number of ovarian follicles diminishes, leading to decreased production of estrogen and progesterone hormones.

Other factors that can contribute to menopause include:

 

  • Genetic factors: Family history and genetics can influence the timing of menopause, with some women experiencing menopause earlier or later than average.
  • Medical treatments: Certain medical treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer, can damage the ovaries and induce menopause prematurely.
  • Surgical removal of the ovaries: Surgical removal of the ovaries (oophorectomy) due to conditions such as ovarian cancer or severe endometriosis can result in immediate menopause.
  • Autoimmune diseases: Certain autoimmune diseases, such as autoimmune oophoritis or Turner syndrome, can affect ovarian function and accelerate the onset of menopause.

Symptoms of Menopause:

Menopause is associated with a range of symptoms, which can vary in severity among women.

Common symptoms of menopause include:

 

  • Irregular menstrual periods: Menstrual cycles may become irregular in the years leading up to menopause (perimenopause), with periods becoming lighter or heavier, shorter or longer, or occurring closer together or further apart.
  • Hot flashes and night sweats: Sudden feelings of intense heat, usually concentrated around the face, neck, and chest, often accompanied by sweating and followed by chills.
  • Vaginal dryness and discomfort: Decreased estrogen levels can lead to thinning and drying of the vaginal tissues, resulting in vaginal dryness, itching, and discomfort during intercourse.
  • Mood swings and irritability: Hormonal fluctuations during menopause can cause mood swings, irritability, anxiety, or feelings of sadness or depression.
  • Sleep disturbances: Changes in hormone levels and hot flashes can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep (insomnia).
  • Fatigue and low energy: Many women experience fatigue, low energy levels, or a general sense of malaise during menopause.
  • Changes in libido: Decreased estrogen levels can affect sexual desire and arousal, leading to changes in libido or sexual function.
    Joint pain and stiffness: Some women may experience joint pain, stiffness, or muscle aches during menopause.

What should I try at home before seeing a provider for Menopause?

Before seeking medical advice for menopause, women can try several home remedies and lifestyle modifications to help manage symptoms and improve overall well-being.

These may include:

 

  • Healthy diet: Consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can support overall health and hormone balance during menopause.
  • Regular exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity, such as walking, swimming, yoga, or strength training, can help improve mood, reduce stress, and alleviate symptoms such as hot flashes and joint pain.
  • Stress management: Practicing stress-reducing techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga can help lower stress levels and improve overall well-being during menopause.
  • Adequate sleep: Prioritizing good sleep hygiene and aiming for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night can help reduce symptoms such as insomnia and fatigue associated with menopause.
  • Vaginal lubricants or moisturizers: For women experiencing vaginal dryness or discomfort during intercourse, over-the-counter vaginal lubricants or moisturizers can help provide relief and improve sexual function.

Best Treatment Options for Menopause:

Treatment for menopause aims to alleviate symptoms, prevent complications, and improve overall quality of life. Functional medicine for menopause aims to find the root causes of any symptoms you might be dealing with, dealing with them directly.

Treatment options may include:

 

  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): HRT involves taking estrogen replacement therapy, often combined with progesterone (in women with a uterus), to alleviate symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood swings associated with menopause.
  • Non-hormonal medications: Certain medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), or gabapentin may be prescribed to help alleviate symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, or insomnia in women who cannot or prefer not to take hormone therapy.
  • Vaginal estrogen therapy: For women experiencing vaginal dryness or discomfort during intercourse, vaginal estrogen therapy in the form of creams, rings, or tablets can help relieve symptoms and improve vaginal health.
  • Lifestyle modifications: Adopting healthy lifestyle habits such as maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management, and adequate sleep can help alleviate symptoms and improve overall well-being during menopause.

Our Process: Functional Medicine for Menopause

We specialize in functional medicine for menopause, using comprehensive evaluation and management of menopause to help women navigate this transition with confidence and support.

Our approach involves a thorough assessment, including a detailed medical history, physical examination, hormone testing, and evaluation of symptoms and lifestyle factors. Based on the results, we develop personalized treatment plans tailored to each patient’s specific needs, goals, and preferences.

Our team of experienced healthcare professionals, including gynecologists, endocrinologists, and menopause specialists – led by Dr. Kayla Milano – collaborates closely with each patient to implement evidence-based treatment strategies, monitor progress, and provide ongoing support and guidance.

We prioritize patient education, empowerment, and holistic care to ensure the best possible outcomes and long-term well-being during menopause.

We are currently accepting patients worldwide.