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Menopause: What If Estrogen Is Not For You?

With record numbers of baby boomers now reaching mid-life, menopause has become the news hot flash of the 1990's. Yet much of what we hear or read about menopause is alarmist, misleading or downright confusing, and focuses on estrogen replacement therapy. This leaves three categories of women unsatisfied: those who can't take estrogen because of contraindications, those who have taken estrogen and stopped because of unacceptable side effects, and those who believe that menopause is a natural transition in life and don't want to medicate it. Dr. Donnica discusses what alternatives to estrogen therapy are available as well as tips to keep in mind when considering alternative therapies for menopause.

What is Menopause?

Each day, 4,000 women in the United States and Canada reach menopause, which is simply the end of a woman's menstrual cycle. During the perimenopausal period (up to 10 years before menopause), the ovaries decrease production of the "female hormones" estrogen and progesterone, the hormones which allow a woman to become pregnant and to menstruate. Yet these hormones also affect many other functions in a woman's body such as the circulatory system, urogenitary system, nervous system, skeletal system, memory, sexuality, skin, vision, and teeth.

The average age for menopause in American women is 51. However, when menopause begins and the length of time it lasts varies for every woman. Menopause means more than just losing your periods. This is a syndrome with clinical symptoms as well as long term consequences. Estrogen loss can have wide-ranging effects--from menopausal symptoms (such as hot flashes) to increased risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, which can be life threatening. Because most women will live a third of their life after menopause, it is important to be aware of the symptoms, systemic effects, and available treatment options associated with estrogen loss.

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 Each day, 4,000 women in the United States and Canada reach menopause, which is simply the end of a woman's menstrual cycle. 

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