Menopause and Peri-menopause

Peri-menopause literally translates to “the time around menopause.”  Few women transition from clockwork normal periods to no periods.  Common first signs of peri-menopause are a combination of shorter and longer periods and heavy and lighter menstrual flow.  Other signs of peri-menopause are irritability, poor memory, poor sleep etc.   It can start earlier or later but usually around age 45-50.  You and everyone around you will benefit if you are ready for menopause.  The ovaries are no longer able to respond to the signals from the brain.  When the ovaries are no longer capable of producing estrogens, progesterone and testosterone the body has a back-up system to ease into menopause.  The back-up system is the adrenal glands.  The adrenals are probably best known for producing adrenaline during fight or flight; but they do much more.  If you are stressed going into menopause, you are prone to experience many more hot flashes, irritability, and tiredness, because your back-up plan won’t work.

There is a test to measure the daily rhythm of the adrenals called the Adrenal Stress Index (ASI).  The ASI is a saliva test for measuring your active cortisol levels four times during your “normal” day. You take the test kit home, collect the samples and send them off to a laboratory.  In approximately 2 weeks you return to the office for the test results and a strategy planning session.

Cortisol should be high in the morning because it has helped keep your brain supplied with glucose while you sleep.  As the day progresses and you are eating through the day, the cortisol should drop so you are not too keyed-up to fall asleep.  Cortisol levels affect and are affected by many physiological process in the body including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels, blood glucose regulation, brain chemistry and the immune system; therefore, we look at other physiological processes in addition to the adrenals.

What is the condition of your adrenals?  If you want an easier menopause, or want to stop menopausal symptoms that have already started, you need to know.

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