Whoosh! Another wave hits, nearly knocking its victim off course as she passes through uncharted waters. Every turn presents another challenge. The soaking, the stress, the sense of sinking invade the joy of this long-awaited journey. And the experience is different for everyone.
No, this is not a white-water rapids ride. It’s menopause . . . for many women.
“Hormone changes can begin in women as early as their mid-30’s and continue well into their 60’s,” said Judith Ingalls, M.D.
A number of symptoms can be present, some of which can mimic thyroid or other disorders. Some women have difficulty becoming pregnant. Others experience intensified premenstrual syndrome (PMS), sleep disruption, expanding waistlines, bone loss or unbearable hot flashes. And just when work and family obligations are in peak demand, extreme fatigue can ravage what’s left of one’s memory and energy reserves.
“As women age, there’s a disconnect between the brain and the ovaries,” explained Dr. Ingalls. “Some patients say they just can’t get out of their own way. As men age, ‘andropause,’ caused by low testosterone, can create more subtle changes.”
Dr. Ingalls approaches menopause as a natural transition, not a condition. Her intuitive questions and investigative blood testing help pinpoint exactly what’s needed to attain patients’ optimal health. In addition to routine blood levels, tests taken can show how estrogen is being metabolized by the liver. If results determine that a “toxic pathway” of estrogen metabolism is evident, good nutrition, including supplements, physical conditioning and other lifestyle changes can help prevent diseases, such as breast and prostate cancer.
Ideally, hormone evaluations should be scheduled before symptoms appear. When appropriate, Dr. Ingalls first suggests trying simple lifestyle changes to control symptoms. Prescription medications or other treatments, such as bio-identical hormones or hormone pellet implants, may also be recommended. “I want my patients to be lean, strong and mentally clear — the best they can be for the age that they are.”
The voice of vitality
A Diplomat of the American Academy of Family Physicians for the past 25 years, Dr. Ingalls treats patients, from pre-teen to seniors, at her private family practice in Carefree. As a Certified Menopause Practitioner with the North American Menopause Society, she enlightens audiences about managing menopause and related health issues.
“Helping women feel better and watching them commit to healthier lifestyles is one of my greatest joys.”