Have you struggled with the myriad symptoms of menopause? If you and I were to sit down and chat about our menopause journeys, we’d undoubtedly discover that our paths have been unique, but they’ve also crossed at common intersections. Navigating menopause can be tricky, especially since few of us really know what lies ahead when we reach this milestone in our journeys. That’s why I asked a trusted female health provider to join us in this very protected space today and shed a little light on the topic.
You know I don’t open up this space to just anyone. In fact, I’ve only had one other guest blogger here in over five years. But when fellow Dressed for My Day reader and viewer Dr. Randi Popp and I connected a few months ago, I just knew you would benefit from her easy demeanor, expertise and genuine compassion.
Randi Popp is a board certified family physician, specializing in bio-identical hormone treatment for premenopausal and menopausal women. She also has a life/health coaching practice, offering guidance and coping skills for life. For the past 20 years she has used bio-identical hormones to treat patients in her wellness practice in Charleston, SC. But she is also able to virtually treat patients in North Carolina and Florida, and she can coach clients in any state or country. In fact, she is happy to help if you or anyone in your life is struggling with these issues.
To begin with I asked Randi a few questions of my own.
Kay: How do I know if I am experiencing menopause or hormone imbalance?
Randi: Hormone imbalance can cause a variety of symptoms, whether before menopause or during menopause. Typical symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, poor sleep, depression, fatigue, irritability, irregular periods…..or just not feeling like yourself!
Kay: So if the symptoms can be similar I guess I really do need to check with my healthcare provider when I start experiencing any of them.
Randi: Yes! I recommend finding a healthcare provider experienced in bio-identical hormone replacement. A local compounding pharmacy is often a great resource and usually can suggest a provider or practice that can help.
Kay: What can I do to make this time easier?
Randi: Take care of yourself! Of course good nutrition and regular exercise are always key, but managing your stress and mental well-being is imperative, too.
That’s when I decided to just let Randi tell us more. So I’ve asked her to share with you additional and more specific tips for navigating the seasons of perimenopause and menopause. You may want to pass this information on to your girlfriends and sisters, too.
The following is straight from Dr. Popp.
#1 – Restore your hormone levels.
I recommend saliva testing to evaluate hormone levels, namely progesterone, estradiol and testosterone. If these hormones are low, or even suboptimal, symptoms such as irritability, poor sleep, night sweats and hot flashes can occur, all of which can be quite debilitating.
Restoring hormone levels with bio- identical hormones, made in a compounding pharmacy, can be life changing! A local compounding pharmacy may be able to recommend a physician in your area that is experienced in bio-identical hormone treatment…or you can visit me in Charleston!
#2 – Restore your thyroid function.
A sluggish thyroid gland can leave you feeling tired and lethargic. The thyroid regulates body temperature, hair and skin health, as well as metabolism. Especially with thyroid function, optimal hormone levels are important, and “normal” labs often warrant treatment, in my opinion. I recommend free T3, free T4 and a TSH when testing. I also prescribe a combination of T3 and T4 to my patients, and most feel much better and enjoy a greater quality of life when thyroid levels are optimal and not low.
#3 – Restore your cortisol balance.
Chronic stress contributes to chronic disease. We all experience stress, whether good or bad, and our adrenal glands work hard to provide our body with the cortisol needed to cope. When stressed for too long, the adrenal glands can become insufficient or even go into failure, resulting in fatigue and poor performance.
A simple breathing exercise several times a day, or before a challenging situation, can put the mind and body into a relaxation state. Try this the next time you feel anxiety creeping in: Take a deep breath in for 5 seconds, hold it for 5 seconds, release it slowly for 7 seconds. Do this ten times in a row. The body should shift from a state of stress to a state of relaxation, and cortisol should start to balance.
#4 – Refresh your mind.
Be mindful of your mind! Our thoughts and attitudes throughout every day have a significant impact on our quality of life. Most of us get in bed at night and think about what we didn’t get done in a day, instead of noting what we did accomplish.
What’s going well? What brought you joy in the day? Simply focusing our mind and attention on what is going well in life can be replenishing and energizing. Celebrate the good.
#5 – Refresh your soul.
Is there a relationship that needs attention in your life? Maybe your creative self? Maybe a best friend? Or a church group? Consider carving out some time in your calendar to focus on what energizes your soul. This might require letting go of other activities that could be robbing you of energy….clear the clutter and focus on what nourishes your mind, body and soul.
#6 – Renew your purpose.
For many of us, this is the perfect time in life to evaluate our purpose and modify our daily routine. Whether it’s paid work or volunteer work, what do you want to do every day? What’s standing in your way? Fear? Believe it or not, fear can be transformed to power….power that can move us forward. Step back and take a good look at the possibilities. And then make an action plan and cultivate this vision. Sharing your vision for this season and discussing next steps with a life coach such as myself can help you start this chapter of your life with renewed focus and energy.
I hope this information has been useful to you. Maybe pick one and start there…one step at a time. I am happy to help as a medical provider or a life/health coach. You can contact me via email at Randipoppwells@gmail.com or check out the website qualityvirtualcare.com. Remember, I’m qualified and certified to provide virtual coaching for clients all over the globe.
Wow! That was very helpful and encouraging for me. I hope it was for you, too. I’m so grateful to Randi for joining us here today. Let me know in the comments if you found some helpful or inspirational encouragement in today’s post. And don’t hesitate to contact Randi if you’d like to learn more from her.
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Blessed for My Day
It’s not enough that the world around us is changing rapidly; our bodies are changing, too. And while I was actually more than ready to cease being fertile, I was quite clueless about the other transformations I would experience with menopause. The hot flashes and night sweats have certainly been annoying. And my thyroid did indeed become sluggish, requiring medical treatment that has definitely helped.
But to me the harder “symptoms of menopause” have been the changes in my sense of vitality and energy. It certainly helps to have renewed purpose, as Dr. Popp pointed out. But I also have leaned into God’s enduring promise that He will be with me, carrying me through my gray years just as He did through the previous ones. I encourage you to rest on this amazing promise, too.
Even to your old age I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will carry you! I have done it, and I will bear you; And I will carry you and I will save you. ~ Isaiah 46:4
8 thoughts on “I Asked a Trusted Female Healthcare Provider How to Navigate Menopause”
I needed this information at 43!!!
This was very helpful! At 52 I’m not having any serious issues, but I’m now more aware of what to look for and talk to my physician.
Thank you Kay, and Randi!
Great topic! I like to share two practical things from my own experience.
1. You know the flexible, reusable ice packs you get from a physical therapist? Get one or two and keep them in the freezer. When I woke up in the middle of the night so hot I couldn’t stay asleep, I would go to the freezer and take one back to bed with me. Worked every time. I would grab a towel, too. They tend to have condensation as they thaw.
2. Sometimes I would have a horrible sense of doom right before a hot flash. It’s scary! But don’t be scared; learn to identify what it is (if indeed the hot flash follows the sense of doom). Talk yourself through it while you prepare for the hot flash (cold water, something from the freezer, etc). You might think the hot flash in this case was an awful one, but it wasn’t. They were normal hot flashes. Sometimes it happened this way, but not always. If you feel a sense of doom followed by nothing else, I’m afraid I can’t help you with that.
The typical advice seems to be that “all women are different” but I think practical tips from experiences can also be helpful.
It was very thoughtful of you to bring up this topic and bring a kind solution to us. Thank you so much!
Thank you Caron for sharing these. I have felt that sense of doom right before and as part of hot flashes, too, but had never really associated the two things. Wow! I’m so glad to know I wasn’t imagining this. And I’ve learned to handle them on the same way you have: I press through remembering that my feelings will pass and they are not based on any kind of truth.
Thank you, Kay, for this post. I think many of us are somewhere in this general stage of life. It very definitely influences what I decide to wear, night and day, every day. LAYERS, and the layer closest to underthings must be lightweight and cool, as well as presentable and attractive on its own, because at some point through my day, it IS going to be seen!
I truly appreciate Dr. Popp’s suggestions. Not only the clinical ones, but the breathing exercise and being mindful of those pesky negative thoughts, too. I needed those reminders!
There are many useful tips in this article. My concern is that I was on bioidentical hormones for 10 years, through a reputable doctor. I would ask at every appointment if it was time to stop and as long as I felt fine and the numbers looked good they recommended I keep using. I stopped when my routine mammogram led to the discovery of atypical cells in my breast. If I had continued longer on bioidentical HRT (which is not FDA approved) it most likely would have progressed to breast cancer. I felt great on HRT but just caution ladies to do their research, find a reputable doctor and check with their doctor that monitors their breast health.
Glad to hear this information is helpful! It is so rewarding to help patients and clients struggling with these challenging issues.
Karen, thank you for posting this! Every woman of menopause age needs to hear this! I found a doctor 3 years ago and did everything this doctor described. The saliva test was crucial in determining exactly what was going on. My symptoms were identical to those she said to look out for. Weight gain, belly fat, depression, irritability, night sweats and on and on! After I started the bio-identical hormones I had never felt better! We do routine testing every 3-6 months to see if anything needs to be changed. Now 3 years later and at age 64, I recently started having similar symptoms so it’s time for another assessment. For anyone suffering with menopause malaise I cannot strongly enough recommend taking the step! It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself!