Susan Merenstein, Pharmacist/Owner

(412) 586-4678

Ten Quick Tips for Menopause

Dear Friends,

Are YOU prepared for Menopause?! It doesn’t have to be a scary or traumatic experience with these helpful suggestions. You will need to be aware of your symptoms, educated on hormones and their effects on your body, and a PRO-ACTIVE participant in your health. Good luck in your journey and remember we are here for you!

  1. Don’t dread menopause. For many women, it’s no big deal. Their periods stop overnight, and they have few symptoms. Even if your menopause is uncomfortable, severe problems are often temporary. For some, it may be like going through heavy surf, but eventually you will land on the beach. (However, call for help if you are about to drown!)
  1. Read all you can about the subject of menopause so that you can make an educated decision about whether you’re likely to need hormone replacement therapy or can manage your symptoms in other ways. Ask yourself if the particular author you are reading seems to have any prejudices. Is their information current?
  1. Remember that the body is like a machine. It has necessary parts, and it needs the correct fuel. These are two different issues. Your particular hormone problem may respond to giving the body better fuel, because the body makes some of your hormone supply from nutrients. Lack of sunshine, too much stress, being overweight, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, too much exercise, the use of stimulants- all these are factors over which you have some degree of control. You can sometimes make significant changes in the function of hormones by changing your habits. Hormone replacement could also be considered a natural fuel.

On the other hand, some body parts just don’t work properly. Some women have parts missing. Others have parts that break down. The hormone system can break down for many reasons- heredity, the changes of pregnancy, the use of synthetic hormones (the pill, Provera, Clomid, Lupron- though for many women these are not a problem), or surgery (tubal sterilization, hysterectomy, loss of an ovary or part of one). Problems such as endometriosis, pituitary tumors, polycystic ovaries, ovarian cysts, and fibroids can also interfere with the mechanism and predispose women to having problems at menopause. Also, the immune system can affect the menstrual cycle via stress, toxins such as pesticides, bacterial infections, and viruses.

  1. Take care of your general health. Those habits will help your hormones. Eat whole, largely vegetarian foods that have not been over processed. These include lots of vegetables and fruits, whole rather than processed grains, and lots of legumes and beans. Limit your intake of sugar, fat, and caffeine. Try herbs and supplements known to be helpful for hormone disorders.
  1. Live a balanced life - get moderate, regular exercise and adequate sleep. Go outdoors, allow adequate daylight to enter your eyes (you don’t have to be in bright sunshine, but glass windows and eyeglasses shut out some beneficial rays). Don’t let your life become too stressful. Give up smoking and avoid alcohol and street drugs, all of which deplete adrenal function and prematurely age your glands.
  1. Find a support system. For instance, talk with other women going through the same problems that you are having. See if there is a local menopause support group in your area.
  1. Find a well-informed, thorough, sympathetic physician who believes in hormone-related symptoms- one who will monitor your physical and emotional progress through the years, and who believes you when you describe your problems and successes. Do not tolerate callous, chauvinistic, uninformed care. Medicine is business. Ask yourself whose body it is and who is paying the bills. On the other hand, remember that a doctor carries heavy responsibilities and liabilities, and may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable with certain treatments. It is the doctor’s right to refuse to dispense certain medications to you.
  1. Weigh the information on estrogen and breast cancer. Almost uniformly, the best researchers believe that estrogen does not cause endometrial or breast cancer when balanced with adequate progesterone. In fact, because the hormones strengthen the cells, the present swing is to believe that a combination of estrogen and progesterone generally prevents cancer.
  1. Remember that normal blood test results and the absence of symptoms do not guarantee that you are free of hormone imbalance. Insist on saliva testing, which is more accurate for detecting true hormone levels. And realize that not everyone who has hormone deficiency knows about it. You could have heart disease and osteoporosis and yet have no overt menopausal symptoms. This is one reason why women need to contemplate their family and personal history and weigh their health risks. Is osteoporosis common in female family members? Does heart disease commonly occur before the age of 65 in female family members? Have your total cholesterol, HDL, and cholesterol ratio recently become elevated with no other apparent cause than menopause? Are you losing physical strength and sex drive? You may need some help with your hormones.
  1. If you do need hormones, ask your doctor to prescribe Human Identical Bioidentical hormones that best match your body chemistry. If the first type you try doesn’t work or causes side effects, don’t be afraid to ask to experiment with other brands and forms of the hormones. Sometimes, just switching to estradiol (Estrace or the Estraderm or Climara patches), with natural progesterone, will bring great improvement. Natural Testosterone (RX) and DHEA suppositories (OTC) are often helpful when a woman has low sex drive, muscle weakness, and loss of well-being, especially in women who have lost their ovaries.

Discuss any symptoms you are having with your healthcare provider (check all that apply):

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Hot flashes
  • Sleep disturbances or insomnia
  • Night sweats
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Mood changes, such as irritability, anxiety, or depression
  • Vaginal dryness or discomfort during intercourse
  • Urinary problems
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Weight gain
  • Hair changes
  • Skin changes
  • Other symptoms

Before making an appointment with your PCP or Gynecologist or healthcare provider ask and discuss the following questions. If you get stuck, we have a list of practitioners with whom we work at the Apothecary.

The main question:

Will you work with my compounding clinical pharmacist to be part of our triad of care using Human Identical Bioidentical Hormones?

• Is treating women experiencing menopause part of your practice? If not, can you recommend a specialist?

• How can I tell if what I’m experiencing is caused by menopause, or some other condition?

• How long will my symptoms last?

• How will menopause affect my health overall?

• How long should I keep using birth control?

• Do I need treatment for menopause? If so, what treatments are best for me?

• Is hormone replacement therapy right for me? What are the side effects, and how can I deal with them?

• How safe is hormone therapy for me?

• How will menopause affect my sex life?

• How does menopause affect other diseases or conditions I have?

• Does menopause increase my risk for other conditions? What tests or screenings should I have now, and how often?

• Are there any medications, supplements, or natural remedies you recommend?

• Should I make any changes to my diet?

• How much and what kinds of exercise should I be doing?

• Are there other lifestyle habits that could be especially helpful for me?

• How long does menopause typically last, and how will I know when it’s over?

Any other questions – Visit our website:

I have over 20 years of experience out of my 40 years of pharmacy practice in what I have coined Gentle Hormone Restoration Therapy and I have helped hundreds of individuals in their journey to optimal health and balance!

Be aware of your symptoms, get educated, and take a pro-active role in your health!