Kelli Jaecks has been speaking nationally and internationally for ten years and is wrapping up work on her book Martinis and Menopause (out later this year). We’re discussing bioidentical hormones to help unshroud some of the controversies you may have heard about them. To start off, bioidenticals are made from plants. This means they cannot go through the same vetting process that chemicals made in a lab go through. The FDA does not grade and test them. Even so, Kelli is a believer and has used them for ten years on her journey through perimenopause and now during her postmenopausal state.
Prescriptions vs. Over the Counter
A key thing to keep in mind about bioidentical prescriptions is that they are not done through a “one size fits all” method. You usually have a blood draw which comes back with a detailed screen of estrogens, testosterone, and other hormones which your prescription is then tailored to. Your bioidentical is made on site at a compounding pharmacy specific to your prescription, which is vastly different than other prescriptions you may have.
So what about over the counter bioidentical cremes? The main difference is in the dosages. The first thing Kelli tells women when discussing bioidenticals is usually to go pick up some from the store, like a phyto-progesterone crème. Just put some on your skin and see if helps you take the edge off some of your irritability. Another symptom these cremes can help alleviate is brain fog – that feeling you get when you can’t remember what you were just doing, writing or even thinking. Thankfully this is a transient symptom and won’t actually cause any lasting harm, even though it may feel like it at the time. Remember, you’re not alone; there are about 158 women just like you going through perimenopause as well.
Knowledge is Power
What’s going on when your partner (or even your dog) looks at you the wrong way and you just want to bite their head off? Let’s demystify some symptoms and behaviors you may have experienced. You have estrogen receptors in your brain and if you don’t have enough of the hormone to fill them you can be left feeling extremely irritated. Serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter, is something that often has large level swings and can leave you very agitated when you don’t have enough of it. Doing something relaxing and tactile, like walking outside, listening to a water feature or a favorite windchime are good ways to stimulate a release of serotonin. You may not want to hug someone, but if you do you’ll jumpstart the release of more serotonin as well.
Don’t be a hormone hostage! Be honest with your partner, that your irritability stems from you and not them. You’re working on understanding what you are going through better so you can learn to cope with the symptoms.
Sex and Desire
Kelli was surprised when her desire to have sex waned during perimenopause. Going from a very sensual partner to being consistently turned off was a shock and something that was not an option for Kelli. She had to find ways to turn her brain on so she could retain some of her sex drive. Thinking back to satisfying sexual memories is one way to go about this. Kelli also found a way to view sex as marriage maintenance, a giving for her partner. She changed her outlook on sex during times of low drive so she could stay in a healthy sexual relationship with her partner. Believe it or not, scheduling in sex on the calendar works too. So when your desire is diminished you can see that the date is coming up, and it gives you time to prepare and get ready in a way that works for you. Being a good partner means understanding what you respond to and what your needs are, so masturbation can be a key component to exploring what ways best arouse and fulfill you.
Sex, like anything, is a use it or lose it activity. Kelli and I are here to help you gain knowledge and empower you to get where you need to be on your own time.