We’re always trying to educate and empower women to face menopause unafraid. To make sure that we’re doing an effective job, it seems important to be sure that the basic vernacular should be shared. That’s what inspired this “Menopause Dictionary”.
We’ve selected words and terms that cause some confusion, or are often misunderstood. So jump in, and see how many you know.
Menopause – The natural cessation of menstruation. Menopause occurs when one year has passed without menstruation.
We included menopause on our list because most women aren’t aware that menopause officially occurs after a year without a cycle. Of course people most often refer to the entire process as menopause, which is acceptable as well.
Perimenopause – The time when a woman’s body begins to transition towards menopause.
Changes such as irregular menstruation mark the signs of perimenopause, and can occur years in advance, often in the late 30’s to early 40’s.
Post-Menopause – The time following one year without menstruation is considered post-menopause.
It’s important to note that just because the menstrual cycle may be a year behind you, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the transition of menopause in general is complete. It is common for hormone levels to continue fluctuation and decline during the first few post-menopause years
Hormone – Regulatory substance produced by the body in order to prompt specific behavior of the cells.
It’s so common for people to be concerned with their hormone levels, and have an understanding of their impact, without ever really having a functional understanding of what they actually are. Hormones are an amazing tool for our bodies to keep our cells working in harmony with the rest of the body.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) – The use of synthetic or natural female hormones to make up for declining levels produced in a woman’s body.
Since the concept of Hormone Replacement Therapy was first introduced as a treatment for the symptoms of menopause in the 1960’s, the majority of HRT programs involved the use of synthetic prescription supplements. In recent years, natural options that are identical to hormones the body produces naturally have become available and increasingly popular.
Estradiol, Estrone, and Estriol – The three natural variations of estrogen that the body produces.
Most people think of estrogen as a single hormone, but there are actually three versions. Estradiol and Estrone are naturally more potent, while estriol is more mild and plentiful in the body.
Progesterone – A female sex hormone that facilitates a variety of functions in the body including the building of uterine lining during the menstrual cycle.
We’ve included progesterone because it is still common for women to think about menopause and hormone replacement purely in terms of estrogen. Progesterone is the other half of that picture, and can be pivotal in understanding menopause fully, and finding relief.
Estrogen Dominance – An imbalance of estrogen to progesterone, often causing many of the symptoms that are associated with modern menopause.
This condition is increasingly common in modern women for a couple of reasons. First, many modern products contain or produce xenoestrogens that mimic the effects of the potent estrogens. Second, increased body fat has led to greater retention of estrogen. When progesterone levels naturally fall during menopause, these factors often lead to imbalance.
Bio-identical – possessing the same structure and makeup of the supplement that is being supplemented.
We often make a distinction between hormone supplement options like the ones you will find here at Smoky Mountain Nutrition, and the type of hormone you will find in a prescription supplement. Broadly speaking, prescription hormones will have an altered chemical structure from the hormone that it is being derived from. Alterations to the structure impact effect and potency in a variety of ways.
So how many of the terms on our list were clarified here? Hopefully defining some of these words and phrases will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of menopause.