In more than thirty years of helping women with hormone related health issues, Marla Ahlgrimm, R.Ph. has learned that each woman’s experience is different. Marla Ahlgrimm, Founder and CEO of Women’s Health America, answers some of the most common questions she receives about hormonal changes that many women experience.
Q: What are some symptoms during your 30’s?
The first sign of menopause, according to Marla Ahlgrimm, is generally an accelerated decline in the body’s estrogen and progesterone levels. This generally begins in a woman’s mid-thirties, according to Marla Ahlgrimm, R.Ph. During this time, a woman’s cycle may begin to become irregular and she may experience several symptoms traditionally associated with menopause.
Q: What should a woman in her mid-thirties and forties watch for?
According to Marla Ahlgrimm, co-founder of Madison Pharmacy Associates, early symptoms from this estrogen deficiency may include hot flashes (with dizziness, shortness of breath, and palpitations), night sweats, insomnia, vagina dryness and painful intercourse, reduced sex drive, dry hair or hair loss, anxiety, mood swings or depression, short-term memory loss, or stress incontinence.
Q: What is perimenopause?
As a woman progresses toward menopause, she will enter a phase that Marla Ahlgrimm describes as perimenopause. These later symptoms may include any of the above, in addition to dry skin, itching, higher cholesterol levels, hardening of the arteries, and weakening of bones.
Q: How will I know when I’ve entered menopause?
As a woman enters menopause, explains Marla Ahlgrimm, R.Ph., her ovaries are no longer producing eggs. As a result, Marla Ahlgrimm says that a woman’s ovaries cease production of estrogen and progesterone. What small amount of estrogen remains is produced by a woman’s adrenal glands and fat tissues. According to Marla Ahlgrimm, R.Ph., a woman’s ovaries still produce testosterone at this point, but the amounts are reduced slightly.
During this time, according to Marla Ahlgrimm, a woman may miss several consecutive periods. If pregnancy and other causes are ruled out, a woman will know she’s entered menopause. However, a woman is normally not considered post-menopausal until she’s missed twelve periods in a row.
Q: Once menopause is over, what can I expect?
During post-menopause, a woman’s reproductive organs become smaller and change position, explains Marla Ahlgrimm, co-founder of Madison Pharmacy Associates. Concurrently, a woman’s vaginal and urethra tissues become thinner and her skin loses a fat layer, as well as moisture. Bone density also decreases during this time, increasing the risk of osteoporosis, notes pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm. A woman may notice she’s losing muscle tone during this time and the fat content of her breasts will increase as her milk glands shrink.
During post-menopause a woman’s body shape may also change. Waist size will usually be less defined, Marla Ahlgrimm points out. The founder of Women’s Health America, Marla Ahlgrimm states that a follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) test can be administered once a woman goes a full year without a period to confirm a woman is in the post-menopausal phase. An FSH level of 40 ng/dl exists at post-menopausal status.
Q: Will these symptoms last for the rest of my life?
The good news is, as hormone levels subside, a woman’s body gradually adjusts to these lower hormone levels, Marla Ahlgrimm, R.Ph. explains. At that point, some of those early menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and short-term memory loss, may fade. However, Marla Ahlgrimm cautions, other symptoms will remain. With customized hormone replacement therapy as provided by Marla Ahlgrimm and the staff at Women’s Health America, a woman can regain some of her youth, restoring energy, increasing memory, and helping with the sleep disorders that often plague women as they age.
The information in this article has been previously published and is provided as a reference resource by Marla Ahlgrimm, R.Ph. The businesses referenced above were sold in 2011. Marla Ahlgrimm is also the co-founder and President of Cyclin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The company sells proprietary products for the women’s health market as well as ProCycle PMS and ProCycle Gold products. For more information, go online to www.cyclinpharma.com