In my experience, premature menopause is a much harsher experience than naturally occurring menopause. Most women go into menopause somewhere between 40 and 59, with the average age being between 45 and 55. Premature menopause occurs between 35 and 40 in one in a hundred women. Surgically induced menopause caused by removing the ovaries occurs in about 7 to 8 percent of women before age 40.
Early menopause seems to bring more problems including severe hot flashes, difficulty concentrating, disorientation, mood swings and insomnia. What's worse is that your friends of the same age won't know what you're talking about and your doctor may not suspect the diagnosis at first.
The risk of heart disease and bone loss increase after both natural and premature menopause. However, in the case of premature menopause, you are without your hormones for longer and the risks of heart disease and bone loss are greater. Increased risk of stroke has not yet been associated with menopause.
Taking premarin and provera will lower your risk of heart disease and bone loss, but may increase your risk of breast and ovarian cancer and other complications.
The most important prevention for heart disease and stroke is a high fibre low animal fat diet, the antioxidant vitamins-E, C and betacarotene, regular exercise, and dealing with feelings of alienation and loneliness.
Dr. John Lee, author of What Your Doctor Won't Tell You About The Premenopause, (Warner, 1996) California, found that bone loss could be prevented or reversed through regular use of a natural progesterone skin cream. The cream can be ordered through Transitions For Health at 1-800-648-8211. A soy derivative known as ipriflavone has been extensively researched and shown to prevent and reverse bone loss. It is available at health food stores.
It is important to go off premarin slowly over about a month. Alternate a full dose with a half dose for a week, then a half dose daily for two weeks, then a half dose every second day for a week. Meanwhile, you can start the angelica or dong quai and vitamin-E which should relieve the hot flushes. You can also add bee pollen, evening of primrose oil, and Vitamin-C with bioflavonoids.
The herb black cohosh can also be used instead of dong quai. A black cohosh extract known as Remifemin has been studied extensively in Europe and shown to alleviate all the symptoms of menopause. Its effect on hot flashes and vaginal dryness are equivalent to premarin.
Another alternative for premarin and provera is natural estrogens combined with natural progesterone. These natural hormones are derived from soybean and wild yam and you can get them by prescription only from any compounding pharmacist through the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists at 713-933-8400 or 1-800-927-4227; the Women's International Pharmacy at 1-800-279-5708 or Madison Pharmacy Associates at 1-800-558-7046;
You may be pleased to be rid of the side effects of provera (mood swings, depression and bloating). Natural progesterone has few side effects by comparison. I usually advise taking natural progesterone even when taking herbs like dong quai and black cohosh to balance the net estrogenic effect of these herbs.
For further information refer to my book chapter on menopause.
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