Hi! I’m Dr. Melissa Bedford. I’m here to support you through menopause.
Dr. Melissa Bedford
Individualized Naturopathic Care for Menopause
Let’s start things off by defining some terms.
- Perimenopause – The transition between the reproductive years and menopause. Can also be called the menopausal transition.
- Menopause – The permanent loss of menstrual periods, determined after 12 consecutive months without a period. The average age at menopause is 51.
- Postmenopause – The years that follow menopause.
To put it another way, you are in perimenopause until 12 months after your final menstrual period. That date, 12 months after your final menstrual period, you meet the definition for menopause. The years that follow are the postmenopausal years.
When we are looking at the postmenopausal years from a reproductive hormone perspective, estrogen and progesterone levels are both low and at a fairly steady state. Some people experience the postmenopausal years as less symptomatic than the perimenopausal years because hormone production is no longer fluctuating so significantly. Others can struggle with symptoms of low estrogen and low progesterone. It is a completely unique experience for each person, which is why an individualized approach to care is needed.
Common symptoms of menopause
Some of the most common symptoms of menopause include:
- Hot flashes, night sweats
- Insomnia (even in the absence of hot flashes)
- Mood changes such as depression and anxiety
- Brain fog, forgetfulness, difficulty with word retrieval
- Changes in body composition (loss of lean mass and gain of fat mass)
- Vaginal dryness, pain with intercourse
- Decreased arousal, orgasm, or sexual desire
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Frequent or urgent or painful urination
- Joint aches and pain
My approach always starts with a thorough assessment to ensure there are no underlying health conditions mimicking or exacerbating menopausal symptoms. It is not good enough to say that you’re over 50 and therefore your hot flashes are due to your menopausal status – we need to rule out other possible causes of hot flashes first.
I want to arm you with knowledge about the hormonal state in the postmenopausal years and how it differs from previous stages in your life.
We can then discuss and initiate a treatment plan that is aligned with your values and goals, with checkpoints along the way to ensure you are feeling well-supported.
You don’t need to do this alone.
When looking at treatment, this is not a black and white, hormone replacement therapy or no hormone replacement therapy conversation. Please know that there are many treatment options available, ranging from lifestyle to nutrition to botanical medicine to acupuncture to pharmaceuticals. It is my responsibility to present you with the benefits and risks of each option so you can make an informed decision about how you would like to be supported.
It is also hugely important to adopt a preventative mindset during the postmenopausal years, as there are a number of long-term effects of estrogen deficiency. Your individualized treatment plan will include strategies to:
- Mitigate the increased cardiovascular disease risk in postmenopause
- Mitigate the accelerated bone loss in postmenopause
- Mitigate changes in body composition in postmenopause
- Mitigate cognitive decline in postmenopause
We will build out a schedule to ensure you receive routine health screening for:
- Cervical cancer
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- Cardiovascular disease