Hormonal Health Matters: Tips for Choosing theRight Medical Practitioner

Hormonal Health Matters: Tips for Choosing theRight Medical Practitioner

Abstract: Ensure optimal care during perimenopause by choosing the right medical practitioner. Learn key steps to find a supportive and skilled specialist for your hormonal health needs.

One of the most common issues women face is not being listened to, heard, or validated by healthcare practitioners, especially regarding hormonal health.

A top menopause doctor in the US recently revealed on a podcast that during her medical training, practitioners around her would use the phrase “WW” (whining woman) to describe women of a certain age who came in with what they deemed “non-legitimate health concerns” they couldn’t address.

This dismissive attitude highlights the urgent need for healthcare practitioners who understand women’s needs, especially during the challenging times of perimenopause and menopause.

Having a family doctor or general practitioner who truly listens, validates, and understands the unique hormonal health needs of women is crucial as you age. This is especially important for women entering perimenopause and menopause, a pivotal time when hormonal changes can significantly impact your physical, mental, and emotional health. Trusting a practitioner to assess your needs and ensure your long-term well-being is vital.

Having the right practitioner isn’t just important; it’s something every woman deserves. No woman should pass through perimenopause or menopause without a clear and patient understanding of what symptoms are natural or not concerning, and what symptoms may be indicators of greater risks. A compassionate and knowledgeable practitioner will provide the
support and care needed during this transformative period.

You need a practitioner who will work with you through the aging process, listening to your concerns and offering tailored advice. But how do you find one? What should you look for in that relationship? How do you choose the right practitioner, and once you have one, how do you determine what they need to know and what is “private”?

Keep reading to get the answers:

  1. Women’s health specialists 
  2. How to choose the “right” practitioner 
  3. Considerations for women when choosing a practitioner
  4. Your health is in your hands: 7 tips to keep your practitioner informed
  5. Women’s health should be a team effort

Women’s Health Specialists: Finding practitioners for hormonal health

When seeking care for perimenopause and hormonal challenges, it’s important to know the types of medical practitioners who specialize in women’s health.

Here are some key roles and their areas of expertise:

  • Primary Care Physician (PCP): Provides general health care, including preventive
    care, routine check-ups, and referrals to specialists for specific women’s health
  •  Nurse Practitioner (NP): Offers comprehensive care, often specializing in women’s
    health, including routine exams, prescribing medication, and managing menopause
  •  Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OB-GYN): Provides a wide range of reproductive health
    services, from pregnancy and childbirth to menopause management and hormonal
  • Gynecologist: Specializes in the female reproductive system, providing care for
    menstrual issues, hormonal imbalances, and menopause management.
  •  Endocrinologist: Focuses on the endocrine system and hormonal disorders, including
    thyroid issues, diabetes, and menopause-related hormonal changes.
  • Integrative Medicine Specialist: Combines conventional and alternative medicine
    approaches, focusing on holistic care that includes nutrition, lifestyle changes, and
    hormonal balance.
  • Certified Menopause Practitioner: Specializes in the management of menopause and
    related hormonal issues, providing tailored treatments and support for symptom
  •  Reproductive Endocrinologist: Specializes in fertility and hormonal disorders related
    to reproduction, including treatments for menopause and perimenopause

Each of these specialists plays a vital role in addressing women’s health concerns, particularly during the transitional phases of perimenopause and menopause.

Finding the right practitioner involves understanding their expertise and how they can
support your unique health needs.

However, it’s important to note that while these practitioners are trained in the areas mentioned, this does not always mean they are well-versed in women’s hormonal health, especially the health concerns that arise during perimenopause. Medical education often touches only briefly on this stage of life, leading to a scarcity of practitioners who are prepared to treat perimenopause not just as a collection of symptoms, but as a comprehensive syndrome. This gap in training can make it challenging for women to find doctors who truly understand and can effectively address their perimenopausal needs.

Choosing a practitioner: the practical matters

When you’re looking for a practitioner, there are a few different things you need to look for. Some are practical matters – which we’ll talk about in this section. Others are more interpersonal, which we’ll talk about in the next section.

For now, let’s discuss the practical matters you need to consider when you’re searching for a

1. How do you decide which practitioners to choose from?

The most important thing about finding a practitioner is to find one that suits YOUR needs.

Here are some practical tips you should consider when exploring practitioners:

  • Talk to family and friends. If your friends or family use a practitioner that they personally recommend, you may feel more comfortable seeking them out as a practitioner.
  • Do they offer after-hour hours? If flexible hours are a priority for you due to your work or medical needs, it’s important to find a practitioner or health team that offers flexible appointment hours.
  •  What is the average wait time? If possible, try to check in with current patients of this practitioner. Are wait times to book appointments with that practitioner very long? Does it take a long time for this practitioner to connect you with specialists or
    remember to send prescriptions to your pharmacy? Are there long waiting times in the practitioner’s waiting room before you actually get in for your appointment? These are important considerations.
  • Do they perform labs in-office? If you want to prioritize routine blood work, explore practitioners who use space in a larger medical facility that includes easy access to blood labs, ultrasound clinics, and other specialists. Practitioners who operate out of family health clinics or hospitals may be best suited to your needs.
  • Do they have a specific education or interests? If you are looking for a doctor who specializes in treating or managing particular health concerns, you may want to include this as a factor when seeking a practitioner.
  • Is the location ideal? If your doctor’s office is hard to get to or far away from where you live, you may want to explore nearer options. Even if you feel comfortable with the drive today, think about the long-term. Will you still want to travel long distances or visit hard-to-access offices as you age? Explore options that are nearer to you and easier to get to.

You should also consider, whenever possible, the long-term. Choose a practitioner that is going to be able to get to know you as you age so that they are aware of any changes over time.

2. Can a practitioner refuse to accept you as a patient?

Physicians are not supposed to discriminate against prospective patients for any reason, and are expected to accept new patients on a first-come, first-served basis.

That being said, doctors are allowed to determine for themselves whether they are accepting new patients or not. If the practitioner you’re interested in isn’t currently accepting new patients, ask if they have a waiting list that you can add your name to for future care as spaces become available.

3. Can a family practitioner drop you as a patient?

Family doctors are allowed to drop patients for various reasons. They need to provide written notification that the doctor-patient relationship is ending, and they are encouraged to give a reason why the relationship is ending, but it is not mandatory to do so.

4. Can you choose your own practitioner?

There can be some limitations to choosing your own family doctor. For instance, if you have a specific practitioner in mind, you need to make sure that the practitioner is currently accepting new patients. Otherwise, you may need to go on a waitlist to be notified once they are accepting new patients. Additionally, your insurance plan may limit who you can see.

In the meantime however, it’s important that you do have a family doctor – even if you don’t have a current health problem, and even if you know you want to explore other options in the future when another practitioner becomes available.

So you know how to find family practitioners, but how do you choose the right practitioner?

Let’s get into that now.

How to choose the “right” practitioner

There are many things that someone might look for in a family doctor, so the “right” practitioner might look different for different people.

Some may prefer a slow and steady bedside manner, and others may prefer the to-the-point
and efficient type.

Some might prefer a female doctor for comfort and relatability, and some may not mind whether their doctor is male or female, as long as they are patient and informative about their medical needs and questions.

When it comes to choosing the right practitioner, what you really need to consider is:

  • Does my practitioner answer all of my questions?
  • Does my practitioner speak to me with patience?
  • Does my practitioner explain medical information to me in a way I understand?
  •  Does my practitioner seem interested in getting to know me and my concerns?

If you answered no to any of these, then you may want to consider exploring other options for a practitioner.

Considerations for women when choosing a practitioner

As women, we experience aging in a way that is unique compared with men.

Men are less likely to experience night sweats and insomnia due to decreases in hormonal fluctuation. Men do not have to fear that menopause will increase the risk of developing dementia in the way that women do.

And men who are experiencing vast changes in their mood or concentration are less likely to be told it’s a “normal part of aging” in the way that women are told this if these symptoms present themselves during menopause.

Having a practitioner as a woman means that you need to be an advocate for yourself.

Women’s health has been vastly misunderstood in the medical world for many years now – and though many female researchers and practitioners are striving to change that, there is a long way to go.

As you enter perimenopause and menopause, you should have a practitioner you can discuss these experiences with in detail – because changes to your physical and mental health and changes to your mood could be manageable symptoms OR indicators of something more serious.

Speaking to your practitioner about women’s health needs

In addition to the above considerations when seeking out a new practitioner, ideally you should also find a practitioner who is able to speak about – or connect you with reliable information on – your hormones.

If you want to get hormones tested, your practitioner should be able to tell you which ones you should test based on symptoms that you describe or questions that you have about your changing body.

Related: Educate yourself about your hormones – read Female Hormones 101.

If you want screening tests, your practitioner should be willing to discuss those with you and help to connect you with the right specialists in a timely manner – even if you’re not currently experiencing a medical problem.

Advocate for yourself with your practitioner

While it’s important that you trust your practitioner to guide and help you, your health is also in your hands. You need to enter into each appointment with your practitioner prepared to ensure that the patient-practitioner relationship is beneficial to YOU.

We want to make sure you get the most out of every medical appointment with your practitioner. To do so, follow these tips below!

Your health is in your hands: 7 tips to keep your practitioner informed

Whether your practitioner is new to you, or you’ve known them since you and/or your children were born, you should always follow these seven steps when meeting with your practitioner for an appointment.

1. Come prepared with your questions

Appointment times are usually short, so it’s imperative to arrive on time and are prepared with what you would like to discuss.

Write down your most important questions or most pressing concerns and arrive at your practitioner’s office with pen, paper, your questions – and be prepared to write down the answers that you get so that you can explore them further in the future when necessary.

Some doctors don’t “like it” when you arrive with a list – but your health is your priority, not their schedule.

If they’re unwilling to talk with you about pressing health concerns, or answer medical questions that you have about your body or your mental health, then you should explore other options for your practitioner.

2. Keep track of symptoms

Some symptoms may be subtle or worsen with time. Keeping a detailed journal identifying any symptoms you experience within the course of a month may help you see trends that weren’t apparent initially. Here are some of the questions we ask ourselves each month:

  • Has my cycle length or heaviness been changing from month to month?
  • Are my cramps more or less severe than they used to be?
  •  Do my moods and/or anxiety levels fluctuate with my monthly hormonal cycle (and if so, how so)?
  •  Do I notice more joint pain or aches during my cycles lately?
  • Are new symptoms a one-time fluke, or do they happen each month around the same time?

These questions (and many others) will help you get a sense of how your body may be  changing as you age.

Did you ever track your cycles when you were going through puberty, and/or when you were trying to conceive a baby?

It’s actually extremely beneficial for your long-term understanding of yourself to continue doing that from puberty to menopause and beyond.

Teach your daughters and granddaughters to track their cycles, too! The more data you have as you age, the better you understand yourself and your body and its changing needs.

3. Keep track of your habits

Diet, exercise, alcohol, caffeine, sleep, sex/libido, changes to vaginal discharge – these can help determine if symptoms are related to your lifestyle, or if they’re hormonal in nature.

This is key, because understanding where symptoms are coming from is the most important step in accurately diagnosing and treating or managing them.

4. Ask follow-up questions at your appointment

This is your time to ask your practitioner, face-to-face, about any questions or concerns you may have about your cycles, your body, your symptoms, your mood – anything.

As we mentioned above, come prepared with questions in advance of your appointment – but don’t stop there. As your practitioner explains things to you, take the time to write down the answers, ask questions to clarify things that you don’t understand, and really make sure you fully grasp what it is that they are telling you (rather than going home more confused
than when you arrived, or worse: Googling symptoms once you’re back home).

Here are some suggestions: Are certain symptoms normal based on your age or an underlying condition you may have? Are there any treatments due, or symptoms (RX or natural). Are there any screenings that are necessary or helpful to better understand your experience?

5. Educate yourself as much as possible

Not every practitioner knows everything about everything – especially women’s health concerns.

So, know when you are due for specific testing or health screenings, be proactive about asking for yearly blood work, and do your research (from reputable medical sources) about which tests are most beneficial.

We don’t mean Googling your symptoms and trusting WebMD or similar websites to accurately tell you what you are experiencing. We recommend that you follow trusted and reliable medical resources that prioritize women’s health.

You can also follow Dr. Kavita Desai / Revivele on Instagram. We are women doing research into women’s health. We take your health seriously and try to share the most up-to-date medical information with women to help us all fully appreciate our unique health needs.

6. Know when to find another practitioner

If a practitioner is dismissive of symptoms or is not willing to discuss or prescribe treatment methods (like hormone replacement therapy or HRT), find another practitioner!

Your practitioner is a trained professional, yes – but your health is in your hands as well. If there’s a treatment you’re interested in exploring, and your practitioner won’t take the time to discuss the pros and cons or provide you with non-judgmental information, then it is within your rights – and in your best interests – to explore other practitioners who are willing to discuss these things with you.

7. Be very open and honest

These appointments are not the time to be shy or embarrassed, even if your symptoms are uncomfortable to talk about.

Physicians have heard it all (believe me), and if it’s not disclosed, it can’t be addressed.

Don’t suffer in silence – share your symptoms and experiences with your practitioner as they arise. Sharing symptoms or experiences may very well save your life if symptoms you passed off as “not serious” are actually indicators of more serious conditions.

Women’s health should be a team effort

Revivele is a company created by a woman for women, with women’s health in mind.

Explore how our Essentials supplements were created to benefit women’s brain health and perimenopausal symptoms as we age to increase women’s comfort, and decrease the risk of developing serious diseases, exacerbated by the symptoms of perimenopause.

To reduce inflammation, improve brain function, reduce sleep disturbance, and repopulate the gut microbiome, we created the Essentials line of women’s supplements.

Related: 5 reasons why taking supplements is essential

Join the Health Hub, made for you

Sign up for our upcoming and exclusive Health Hub: an interactive online platform designed to educate and support women regarding women’s health.

Our Health Hub will feature future-forward services such as lab testing, HRT, telehealth consultations, at-home sleep assessments, and therapeutic tools.

Don’t miss out. Sign up now and be one of the first to be notified when our Health Hub goes live!

Take your health into your own hands

Many women who experience the sudden onset of anxiety and mood disorders may feel like they’re losing their minds. You’re not losing your mind – Dr. Desai addresses this very phenomena in her book Lady Parts: Putting Women’s Health Back Into Women’s Hands.

Being armed with information means you can face each unsettling hiccup in your perimenopause journey with calm attentiveness.

Don’t ignore new symptoms as they arise – bring them to the attention of your practitioner at your next appointment so you can work together to understand what they mean for you.

That being said – don’t let new symptoms panic you, either. Falling into a panic cycle will only make each new symptom more difficult to bear.

You’re not in this alone. Let’s work together to educate one another on what it means to be an aging woman.

At Revivele, women’s health is our mission. That’s why we’ve developed supplements made for women to address certain deficiencies common in women’s bodies as they age, and to help mitigate the difficulty of various symptoms as they arise.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to maintain your health as you age, read our other blogs, which are full of helpful details, research, and woman-to-woman understanding. We’re all in this together!

To learn more about women’s health and wellness, and to understand the beneficial effects supplements can have on women’s bodies as we age, follow Dr. Kavita Desai’s women’s health & wellness company, Revivele, on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn!

What to read next… 

Find out how to improve your gut health – and why you should make this a priority.

What is Vitamin D – and why is it so important? Find out here.

Want to boost your brain health? Find out the 8 best foods to improve brain health.

The Misdiagnosis of Mood Changes:Understanding Mood Disorders in Perimenopause

The Misdiagnosis of Mood Changes:Understanding Mood Disorders in Perimenopause

Discover why understanding the subtle changes in your mood could be the key to preventing the misdiagnosis of serious health conditions as you navigate the complexities of perimenopause.

If you’ve been following Revivele for a while, you know that mood and hormones are intricately linked, and our cycles can influence our levels of anxiety and exacerbate mood disorders on a monthly basis

When we enter perimenopause—a time of intense hormone fluctuation as our bodies’ reproductive capabilities wind down toward menopause—symptoms of anxiety and mood disorders can become more pronounced.

Being aware of the changes your body will undergo, and how these can impact your memory, mood, sleep patterns, and stress or anxiety levels can help you face these difficult symptoms with empowerment.

However, it’s crucial to pay close attention to these changes, as fluctuations in mood can sometimes be misleading. Symptoms that may appear to be anxiety or depression could, in fact, be early indicators of other significant health issues, such as Alzheimer’s. Misdiagnosis can lead to delays in the appropriate management and support, emphasizing the importance of comprehensive health evaluations during this time.

Unfortunately, many women are not aware of these common symptoms, and as they experience intense levels of hormone-related anxiety and stress, these symptoms can cause panic, or heightened feelings of confusion and distress. Perimenopausal anxiety and mood disorders are symptoms—they do not define who you are.

In this blog, we want to reassure you that you’re not alone, and there are ways to manage symptoms of anxiety and mood disorders as you transition into menopause. By fostering a deeper understanding of these processes, we aim to empower you with the knowledge and resources needed to address not only the common symptoms but also to advocate for comprehensive care should more complex health issues arise.

Keep reading to learn about:

a. How do hormones influence mood?
b. Hormones and depression
c. Hormones and anxiety
d. Hormones, mood disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease
e. Supplements to help manage anxiety and mood disorders

Let’s get started.

How do hormones influence mood?

Estrogen and progesterone are hormones that ebb and flow throughout each month. These
control our reproductive cycles: ovulation and menstruation.

However, estrogen and progesterone are not the only hormones that influence a woman’s reproductive cycle. To learn more about the function of female hormones, and how and why these fluctuate throughout the month, take a look at our other blog: female hormones 101.

When hormone levels are too high or low, they can cause imbalances that result in physical symptoms (hot flashes, insomnia, irregular periods, vaginal dryness), as well as mental and emotional symptoms (brain fog, moodiness, irritability).

A hormonal imbalance can impact your body’s natural function, your overall health, and cause serious emotional side-effects such as depression and anxiety.

Also Read: Which perimenopausal symptoms should you be concerned about? Take a look at the symptoms that may signal future risk.

Hormones and depression

Depression, or depressive disorder, is a depressed mood or loss of pleasure and/or interest in the activities you usually love, for long periods of time. Clinical depression is different from situational or occasional depression, which might occur due to a particular occurrence in life (such as a break up, difficult week at work, or loss of a loved one).

Depression is unrelated to regular mood changes or feelings about difficult things that happen in everyday life. Depression is a pervasive feeling of despair, low or no motivation, and a lack of joy during both the downs and the ups of normal life for an extended amount of time.

Depression is a difficult experience for anyone to bear for any length of time – and it’s extremely difficult for women who experience episodes of depression on a monthly basis throughout their lifetime

Depression and your period

Many women experience forms of depression or depressive symptoms during their period, from as early as the start of their period to menopause.

KidsHealth has information for young girls experiencing their first periods who report that they feel depressed during certain phases of their cycles each month, and many women experience symptoms of depression during their cycles throughout adulthood.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) causes severe anxiety, depression and mood changes during a woman’s cycle, especially leading up to the first day of her period.

PMDD is different from premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which is the experience of bloating, fatigue, and cramps, as well as symptoms of irritability or sadness.

PMDD is a severe form of PMS – meaning that all symptoms are experienced more severely, from the cramps to the sorrow, resulting in feelings of deep depression or anxiety each month during a woman’s period

Depression and perimenopause

As a woman ages, experiences of depression may actually increase – especially if you have a history of depression – though there are women who experience depression for the first time during perimenopause.
Some studies have shown that the risk of serious depression is significantly increased in perimenopausal women.

The greater risk of developing depression during perimenopause may take place for a few reasons:

  • Psychological shifts: As a woman exits her childbearing years, her sense of self – carefully cultivated by society throughout her life – may be significantly altered, which can be extremely difficult for many women.
  • Hormonal imbalances: Estrogen and progesterone levels naturally decrease as we age, sending our bodies, and our moods, into a state of flux. This can be both distressing and frustrating for many women, who may otherwise have felt relatively balanced in their moods throughout their lives prior to perimenopause.
  • Symptom sabotage: The symptoms of perimenopause include hot flashes (which can feel embarrassing and distressing, as some women think they’re panic attacks or heart attacks), brain fog (which includes difficulty concentrating and poor memory, which can be frustrating and concerning), and insomnia (chronic sleep deprivation is a known contributor to feelings of heightened anxiety and depression).

Perimenopause can be a very challenging time in any woman’s life, as it feels as if your body and your mind are turning against you.

You are certainly not alone if you have ever felt this way – however, we want to reassure you that there are ways you can mitigate your risk of developing depression as you age. This blog is meant to inspire hope in women as they age, and we promise we’re going to talk about some of the ways to reduce these symptoms.

Before we talk about the steps to take to address symptoms, we want to talk about the other commonly experienced mood disorders that women may experience during perimenopause.

Hormones and anxiety

Anxiety is a defense mechanism in our brains that we all have. Sometimes, anxiety is a good
thing. Anxiety is the alarm bell that tells us to look for an escape route when we smell

But sometimes, due to past traumas, periods of intense stress, or hormonal fluctuations, our
anxiety system can go into hyperdrive and convince us there are dangers when there are

Anxiety may affect each person in a slightly different way. Anxiety might look or feel like:

  • Constant nervousness, even when going about your usual daily routine
  • Feelings of panic, even when there is no danger
  • Sweating
  • A sense of dread that something bad is going to happen
  • Shakiness or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Panic attacks, including a racing heart or searching for an escape to non-dangerous situations (like social settings or calm, crowded spaces)
  • Fearfulness, which can be mild or severe and very confusing

Some people experience intense anxiety when they experience physical or mental symptoms that are unusual to them.

For example, a woman who has her first hot flash might have a panic attack during the hot flash (exacerbating the symptoms), because she is confused about what’s happening and believes she’s having a heart attack, or that the hot flash is a symptom of her body in distress.

Anxiety and your period

Anxiety disorders occur more often in women than in men, and although there aren’t definitive results that point to hormones as the cause, female hormones are constantly in flux in a way that male hormones simply are not – which means we can safely assume that our hormones have the power to cause or exacerbate anxiety.

Anxiety comes in many forms known as anxiety disorders, such as:

We can also add PMDD to this list, as we know from above that PMDD can cause both depression and severe anxiety during a woman’s cycle, usually in the one or two weeks leading up to a woman’s period.

Symptoms of PMDD usually go away two or three days after a woman’s period starts, but this cycle can still be distressing for many women.

Anxiety and perimenopause

Perimenopause can be a period of heightened anxiety for many women, for all the reasons listed above (and other, physical reasons).

However, there is a silver lining: after menopause, PMDD may resolve itself.

Perimenopause is a marathon and may last for years, however there is an end in sight. Menopause (the 12 month anniversary of the first day of your last period) usually comes with a settling down of hormones.

Related: Find out here – what are the signs perimenopause is coming to an end?

Hormones, mood disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease

Depression and anxiety are not the only mood disorders caused or exacerbated by hormone fluctuations. As hormones change in our bodies, women are also at risk of developing other mood disorders.

While sometimes the onset of mood disorders comes with an end date – like menopause – sometimes, mood disorders go overlooked as early warning signs of something more severe going on: like Alzheimers.

Perimenopause usually begins between the ages of 30 and 50, most likely in a woman’s 40s, and many symptoms – though common – should be monitored closely to ensure they’re not signals for the onset of future diseases.

Women are more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than men, and the risk increases with age. For example, insomnia is a symptom of perimenopause and hormone fluctuation, and is also linked to an increased risk of developing dementia.

Mood disorders may present in various ways, such as:

  • Changes to one’s personality
  • Erratic behavior or extreme irritability
  • Argumentative or extremely defensive behavior
  • Steady decrease in interest in things you used to enjoy

Sometimes, increased irritability or a decrease in motivation are temporary. But women and their loved ones should be aware of – should, in fact, closely monitor and document – any changes to personality or behavior throughout the aging process.

It can be hard to know when to take certain symptoms seriously if “all that’s changing” is someone’s mood. However, changes in mood that are sudden, severe, or long-lasting, should be addressed as soon as possible.

From Heart to Heartache: Dr. Kavita Desai’s Personal Story of her Mom’s Early Onset Alzhiemers

In Dr. Kavita Desai’s personal experience with her mom, personality and mood changes were the early warning signs that went missed, the harbingers of something far more serious than anyone expected: early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Over a decade, Kavita watched as the woman who had once been her best friend and cornerstone transformed before her eyes.

Initially marked by subtle shifts in mood and increased argumentativeness, her mother’s condition progressed into a deepening struggle with anxiety and eventually communication.

The journey was long and painful; the daily phone calls that used to be filled with love and laughter slowly turned into a minefield of hurt feelings and misunderstandings. Prior to becoming ill, Kavita’s mom was a kind, sweet, loving and patient woman. And initially, as her mother’s mood shifted, Kavita didn’t think too much of it.

But by the time a medical diagnosis confirmed the fearsome reality, her mother had become a mere shadow of her former self. It took about a decade to have her diagnosed, and by that time, when her mom was 65 years old, her brain had atrophied (shrunk) by 50%.

Over time, the changes Dr. Desai had seen in her mom’s mood and personality became changes in her physical and cognitive ability:

  • Steady decline of mobility (walking, speaking)
  • Inability to recognize well-known faces
  • Inability to recognize the purpose of frequently-used items
  • Inability to hold conversations that last more than a few minutes
  • Inability to hold more complex conversations due to difficulty recalling past facts
  • Increased challenges communicating effectively in group settings, finding it easier to focus and participate in one-on-one conversations

Dr. Desai often reflects on her own personal journey with her mother’s health, believing that early warning signs of Alzheimer’s were overlooked. She emphasizes that if these signs had been recognized sooner, early intervention might have been possible, potentially altering the course of her mother’s experience.

This personal experience fuels her dedication to educating women about the importance of understanding and properly addressing mood changes during perimenopause, as these can sometimes be the first clues to more serious underlying conditions.

Embrace hope instead of despair

If you take anything away from this blog, let it be these three things:

  • Our hormones have a direct impact on our mood and emotional health
  • Our mood and emotional health will change as we age
  • As we age, we should monitor changes to our mood and emotional health

As mentioned above, this blog is not meant to frighten or upset you – it’s only meant to educate, so that you can know all the things that generations of women before us did not know.Now, let’s talk about some of the ways you can offset symptoms of anxiety and mood disorders during your period and beyond.

Now, let’s talk about some of the ways you can offset symptoms of anxiety and mood disorders during your period and beyond.

Tips to help manage anxiety and mood disorders during perimenopause

Here are some effective strategies to help manage symptoms of anxiety and depression during perimenopause:

  • Prioritize Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Establish a calming bedtime routine and create a sleep-friendly environment by reducing noise and light.
  • Nutritious Diet: Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish, can be particularly beneficial for mood regulation. Significantly reduce or eliminate alcohol – known to perpetuate feelings of depression or anxiety.
  • Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity such as walking, yoga, weight lifting or swimming. Exercise helps release endorphins, which naturally improve your mood and reduce feelings of stress.
  • Seek Therapy: Consider talking therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which has been shown to be effective in managing symptoms of anxiety and depression. A therapist can provide support and strategies tailored to your personal experiences.
  • Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Practices like meditation, deep-breathing exercises, journaling, or progressive muscle relaxation can help calm your mind and reduce symptoms of anxiety.
  • Incorporate a Daily Supplement: Alongside these lifestyle changes, consider adding a daily supplement designed specifically for perimenopausal women. Supplements that include adaptogens (such as ashwagandha), vitamins D and B, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids can support overall health and help mitigate mood swings and other symptoms associated with hormone fluctuations during perimenopause.

Revivele is a company created by a woman for women, with women’s health in mind. Our Essentials supplements were created to benefit women’s brain health and perimenopausal symptoms as we age to increase women’s comfort, and decrease the risk of developing serious diseases, exacerbated by the symptoms of perimenopause.

To reduce inflammation, improve brain function, reduce sleep disturbance, and repopulate the gut microbiome, we created the Essentials line of women’s supplements.

Join the Health Hub, made for you

Sign up for our upcoming and exclusive Health Hub: an interactive online platform designed to educate and support women regarding women’s health.

Our Health Hub will feature future-forward services such as lab testing, HRT, telehealth consultations, at-home sleep assessments, and therapeutic tools.

Don’t miss out. Sign up now and be one of the first to be notified when our Health Hub goes live!

Take your health into your own hands

Many women who experience the sudden onset of anxiety and mood disorders may feel like they’re losing their minds. You’re not losing your mind – Dr. Desai addresses this very phenomena in her book Lady Parts: Putting Women’s Health Back Into Women’s Hands.

Being armed with information means you can face each unsettling hiccup in your perimenopause journey with calm attentiveness.
Don’t ignore new symptoms as they arise – but don’t let them panic you, either. Falling into a panic cycle will only make each new symptom more difficult to bear.

Let’s work together to educate one another on what it means to be an aging woman.

At Revivele, women’s health is our mission. That’s why we’ve developed supplements made for women to address certain deficiencies common in women’s bodies as they age, and to help mitigate the difficulty of various symptoms as they arise.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to maintain your health as you age, read our other blogs, which are full of helpful details, research, and woman-to-woman understanding.
We’re all in this together!

To learn more about women’s health and wellness, and to understand the beneficial effects supplements can have on women’s bodies as we age, follow Dr. Kavita Desai’s women’s health & wellness company, Revivele, on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn!

Don’t forget to order Dr. Kavita Desai’s book Lady Parts: Putting Women’s Health Back Into Women’s Hands to get more information, statistics, and research regarding women’s health!

What to read next…

Discover how to lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Get our take on the difference between Ozempic and berberine for weight loss and diabetes management.

Your sexuality and desire may change as you age – find out what you need to know.

Perimenopause: which of your symptoms signal future risks?

Perimenopause: which of your symptoms signal future risks?

Abstract: Which perimenopause symptoms are risk factors for other diseases, and what can you do to reduce your risk?

As a woman navigating the complexities of life, it’s not uncommon to encounter a veil of silence surrounding the intimate details of women’s health issues. This silence can leave many feeling uncertain and unprepared for what lies ahead, particularly when it comes to perimenopause—the transitional phase leading up to menopause. 

Often, society’s whispers suggest that perimenopause is simply a rough patch to endure, a notion ingrained from a young age. This perspective, however, does a disservice, as it may cause women to dismiss the significant, challenging symptoms of perimenopause as just another part of womanhood.

Such an approach neglects the reality that symptoms commonly associated with perimenopause, such as brain fog, inflammation, sleep disturbances, and increased body fat, are not mere inconveniences. They can signal potential risk factors for developing more serious health conditions that demand attention and care in any other context.

In this blog, our aim is to empower you with the knowledge to identify which perimenopausal symptoms may hint at greater health risks. More importantly, we’ll share insights on how addressing these symptoms can help mitigate such risks. Stay with us as we explore actionable tips and strategies to navigate perimenopause not just with resilience, but with informed confidence, reducing your risk of serious health issues in the process. 

In this article:  

  1. The symptoms of perimenopause 
  2. Which perimenopause symptoms are risk factors for other diseases? 
  3. Treat perimenopause symptoms in your daily life
  4. Supplements to treat perimenopause symptoms 

Perimenopause: Distinguishing symptoms from health red flags

As we age, production of our sex hormones – estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone – gradually decreases. This is a natural part of the aging process in the human female body.  

The steadily decreasing (and fluctuating) levels of these hormones contribute to the sudden appearance of uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms of perimenopause

Perimenopause is the oftentimes years-long process leading up to menopause (which is the one year anniversary of your very last period). Perimenopause is the stop-and-start process of your period slowly disappearing, 

Hormone fluctuations control the moods and physical health of women throughout their lives, and perimenopause is no exception. 

Perimenopause often brings about unwanted and uncomfortable symptoms (hot flashes, for example), but the symptoms of perimenopause are more than just a nuisance. 

Some symptoms of perimenopause are risk factors that we associate with very serious diseases like cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. 

You need to know if your symptoms of perimenopause are killing you – and you need to know that you can treat these symptoms to help mitigate your risk of developing serious diseases. 

Which perimenopause symptoms are risk factors for other diseases?

Before we deep dive into three common symptoms of perimenopause that double as risk factors for serious diseases, it’s important to broaden our understanding of the spectrum of perimenopausal symptoms that could be signaling more than just the transition into menopause. 

Here are some conditions and symptoms that can occur during perimenopause due to hormonal fluctuations and the aging process that have been linked to increased risks of chronic disease such as dementia and cardiovascular disease. These include:

  • Glucose intolerance, which can disrupt your body’s ability to effectively use sugar, leading to higher risks of diabetes, dementia, and heart disease.
  • Increased cortisol levels and stress, which can exacerbate not only mental health challenges but also physical health issues, including heart problems.
  • Low levels of vitamin D, a common issue not directly tied to perimenopause but often worsened by factors like decreased outdoor activity, poor gut health and absorption, and the natural aging process is linked with an increased risk of cancer and dementia and poor mental health.
  • Elevated cholesterol levels or blood pressure are critical risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
  • Increased inflammation in the body, which is linked to a host of chronic conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.

Understanding these additional risk factors is crucial as we explore the following three symptoms of perimenopause in more detail.

So, what are some of the symptoms of perimenopause that are also risk factors for developing serious diseases? 

Here are the top 3 symptoms that we want you to be aware of so that you can treat them as they appear.

1. Muscle loss and visceral fat accumulation

Muscle loss, or sarcopenia, is the process of losing muscle mass and muscle strength as we age. Muscle loss occurs progressively after the age of 30 (approximately 3-8% per decade after age 30), when your testosterone levels begin to diminish. Sarcopenia is a form of progressive muscle atrophy, and the primary symptom is muscle weakness.

Visceral fat accumulation is belly fat found deep within your abdominal cavity. Due to loss of estrogen, we see changes in the way fat distributes, resulting in an increase in visceral fat. The accumulation of visceral fats surrounds important organs, like the stomach, liver and intestines, and is more dangerous to your health. 

A combination of muscle loss and visceral fat accumulation can lead to reduced bone density and strain on our hearts – both of which increase our risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. 

2. Changes in gut microbiome

Your gut microbiome is the collection of trillions of microorganisms that live within your intestines, and are believed to have an influence on your overall health, from your mood to your digestive system, all the way to your nervous system and immune function. 

Gut microbiomes include certain bacteria that can produce or stimulate the production of neurotransmitters that send signals to your brain to produce hormones (like serotonin, which is both a neurotransmitter and a hormone). Approximately 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut and approximately 70-80% of immune cells are present in the gut. 

The poor health of your gut microbiome is linked to poor brain health, reduced nutrient absorption, and increased risk of chronic illness and poor immunity. 

The intricate health of your gut microbiome plays a pivotal role far beyond digestion, profoundly influencing overall well-being. The connection between the gut and the brain, often described through the concept of the “gut-brain axis,” underscores how signals travel bi-directionally in this sophisticated network of nerve endings. Connecting the intestinal wall to the brain, the enteric nervous system—comprising 100 million nerve cells lining the gastrointestinal tract—is often referred to as “the little brain.” This extensive communication network facilitates a constant dialogue between the gut and the brain, affecting everything from our mental state to our physical health. Disruptions in the gut microbiome can lead to diminished brain health, poor nutrient absorption, and an increased risk of chronic illness and weakened immunity, highlighting the critical importance of maintaining a healthy and balanced gut ecosystem.

An unhealthy gut microbiome can also lead to increased incidents of insulin sensitivity and glucose intolerance, which puts women at risk of both cognitive decline and the development of diabetes. 

3. Disrupted sleep

Disrupted sleep is the frequent interruption of a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. Seven to eight hours of uninterrupted deep sleep are critical to the health of your body and your brain. Frequent sleep interruptions can have an effect on brain health, physical health, as well as your mood and mental health. 

Poor sleep is a risk factor for the development of dementia in later years, as well as chronic fatigue and low energy, and the development of mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. 

Treat perimenopause symptoms in your daily life

Women and medical professionals routinely brush off these symptoms as merely signs of perimenopause – but they can be so much more. 

Other perimenopause symptoms, such as increased feelings of stress, anxiety, joint pain, inflammation, brain fog, hot flashes (the list goes on), are also factors that can impact the health and happiness of our future.

We believe that women should be embracing and owning these years of their lives. We’re no longer child-rearing, are possibly retired, we’re eager to wind down and enjoy the rest of our lives. 

But we also truly believe that we also need to be doing something to address each risk factor, and not brush them aside as “just symptoms of perimenopause.” 

Here’s what you need to know about treating these symptoms in your daily life. 

1. Embrace a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle 

Research strongly suggests that an inactive lifestyle and unhealthy diet can contribute to the development of muscle loss and the accumulation of visceral fats around the organs. Diet and exercise are therefore the best ways to prevent them! 

Follow a diet that is high in lean proteins, healthy fats, and antioxidants, and low in processed foods and sugar. Exercise by taking a 30 minute (or longer) walk at least once a day, and incorporate weight training  at least 3 times weekly to help maintain muscle mass and bone strength. 

2. Prioritize sleep

Believe us – we know this is easier said than done. But it’s truly worth the effort it takes to ensure you’re getting a healthy, deep sleep for 7-8 hours every night. Two hours before bed you should: 

  • Put away all devices and stop looking at screens
  • Dim the lights to signal to your body it’s time to wind down
  • Don’t snack in the two hours before bedtime 
  • Don’t take more than a few sips of water to avoid nighttime bathroom trips 
  • Invest in a sound machine if you’re a light sleeper to block out background noises
  • Keep your room dark and cool for the best sleep 
  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine and alcohol 
  • Consider supplementing with magnesium or L-theanine to aid relaxation
  • Consider drinking chamomile or valerian tea 

Try to stick to this routine for at least two weeks to get your body into a healthy sleep routine. Then stick to it! 

If you continue to struggle with poor sleep, feelings of chronic fatigue, or insomnia, you should speak to your health provider. Your sleep is important – make it a priority.  

3. Consider Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a method used to treat symptoms of perimenopause and menopause by replacing depleted sex hormones into the body to not only address symptoms such as  fluctuating mood, weight fluctuations, and hot flashes, but also to reduce the risk of developing diseases associated with hormonal loss such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and possibly even Alzheimer’s. 

You should speak to your healthcare provider about your personal history, medical history, and the severity of your menopausal symptoms when considering HRT. 

4. Learn new things

Keep your brain active and healthy by keeping its signals firing as you get older. 

Learning new things by taking a course or reading new material, or engaging in new or challenging activities can help to maintain cognitive health as your brain ages. Your brain plasticity (its ability to learn and grow) can be maintained as you age – as long as you actively train your brain to think and learn on a regular basis. 

Frequent isolation, a sedentary lifestyle, and decreased intellectual stimulation can contribute to a decline in brain health. So, 

  • Keep active, physically and socially 
  • Join groups or clubs to stay engaged 
  • Consider volunteering in your community 
  • Take a new course or read material on a new subject 
  • Invest in brain teasers and trivia games 
  • Start doing puzzles or try new and challenging tasks 

Keep your brain engaged in as many ways as possible, for as long as possible, and help to maintain your brain health into late adulthood. 

5. Consider taking supplements

Supplements that are designed for women’s health can help you to mitigate your risk of developing diseases by treating the symptoms you may be experiencing as you enter the perimenopausal stage of your life. 

Consider taking supplements that are made with ingredients that reduce brain fog, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, and improve gut microbiome to help combat perimenopause symptoms, and mitigate your risk for developing diseases later in life.  

Supplements to treat symptoms of perimenopause 

Revivele is a company created by women for women, with women’s health in mind. Our Essentials supplements were created to benefit women’s brain health and perimenopausal symptoms as we age to increase women’s comfort, and decrease the risk of developing serious diseases, exacerbated by the symptoms of perimenopause. 

To reduce inflammation, improve brain function, reduce sleep disturbance, and repopulate the gut microbiome, we created the Essentials line of women’s supplements.

Join the Health Hub, made for you

Sign up for our upcoming and exclusive Health Hub: an interactive online platform designed to educate and support women regarding women’s health. 

Our Health Hub will feature future-forward services such as lab testing, HRT, telehealth consultations, at-home sleep assessments, and therapeutic tools. Don’t miss out. Sign up now and be one of the first to be notified when our Health Hub goes live! 

Own your health journey

If you’re interested in learning more about how to maintain your health as you age, read our other blogs, which are full of helpful details, research, and woman-to-woman understanding. We’re all in this together!

To learn more about women’s health and wellness, and to understand the beneficial effects supplements can have on women’s bodies as we age, follow Dr. Kavita Desai’s women’s health & wellness company, Revivele, on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn!

You can also order Dr. Kavita Desai’s book, Lady Parts: Putting Women’s Health Back Into Women’s Hands

What to read next… 

Get checked! The 8 health screenings you don’t want to miss.

Discover the actual role of berberine in weight loss and glucose control. 

Learn about the symptoms of fibromyalgia, and find the details for an upcoming fibromyalgia clinic for women. 

Is it Perimenopause or Fibromyalgia?

Is it Perimenopause or Fibromyalgia?

Abstract: Explore the reality of fibromyalgia, a condition that predominantly affects women, revealing the truth behind its symptoms, causes, and the importance of recognition in women’s health.

Fibromyalgia, a complicated and poorly understood chronic disorder, manifests as widespread pain and sensitivity across the body. It disproportionately affects women, particularly those over the age of 40, is often triggered by traumatic situations or major stressors, and commonly fluctuates based on stress and anxiety in one’s daily life. 

Fibromyalgia’s recognition has evolved from an ‘invisible illness’ being labeled a ‘female disorder’ to a neurologic condition that also affects men, challenging the skepticism it has historically faced within the medical community. 

Despite this, a common query online remains: “Is fibromyalgia real?” The answer is unequivocally, yes! 

Fibromyalgia is, indeed, a real experience, caused by disrupted pain signal processing, hormonal imbalances, and brain inflammation, all contributing to a person’s experience of unrelenting and extreme pain and stiffness, even during periods of rest, or after minimal exertion. It affects millions of women in America and the symptoms of fibromyalgia are often similar to (and can be exacerbated by) the onset of perimenopause.

As a women’s health advocate  dedicated to helping women learn about and prioritize their health and well-being, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to talk about what we know about fibromyalgia – its realities and offering strategies to manage its symptoms. 

Keep reading to learn: 

  1. What is fibromyalgia?
  2. Is fibromyalgia a woman’s disorder?
  3. How to treat and manage fibromyalgia 
  4. Fibromyalgia and hormonal imbalances 
  5. Women’s health supplements and fibromyalgia 
Key Takeaways:
Fibromyalgia affects up to 1 in 25 people in the USA, especially women over 40.
Although there’s no known “cause” of fibromyalgia, research strongly suggests that fibromyalgia is frequently linked to genetic predispositions, environmental factors, and acquired neurological changes.
There are non-invasive, non-drug solutions to managing symptoms of fibromyalgia, including hormonal supplements and state-of-the-art prescription medical devices women can wear throughout the day to manage symptoms. 

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic medical condition, experienced as widespread pain & stiffness in the muscles and soft tissues all over the body. 

Consider the brain and spinal cord, and specifically the parts that transmit pain signals and messages, like a dial. In someone with fibromyalgia, that dial is turned way up, so that the pain receptors are extremely sensitive. Any minor pain, and even sensations not normally considered to be painful, are experienced as severe pain as a result. 

People who have fibromyalgia experience pain at a far higher level, amplified beyond a normal pain response, than those who do not have fibromyalgia. 

While the exact cause of fibromyalgia is unclear, brain inflammation and hormonal imbalances are two key factors that play a role in the development of this condition. 

For someone with fibromyalgia, a normal level of exertion or exercise can result in acute pain throughout the body, whereas someone without fibromyalgia may do the same amount of exercise and experience no pain or discomfort at all. 

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a disorder known to cause:

  • Musculoskeletal pain throughout the body
  • Extreme fatigue 
  • Poor Sleep –  with an inability to ever feel refreshed or well-rested
  • Brain fog or difficulty with concentration and memory
  • Heightened environmental (noise, light, smells) and chemical (food) sensitivity 
  • Low mood 

Risk factors for developing fibromyalgia

According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are certain factors that may increase the risk of developing fibromyalgia, including: 

AgeThose over 40 are more likely to develop fibromyalgia, however even children can develop this disorder. 
Assigned Sex at BirthYou are almost twice as likely to develop fibromyalgia if you were assigned female at birth. 
Chronic IllnessesFor instance, people with health conditions such as:OsteoarthritisDepressionAnxiety disordersIrritable bowel syndromeChronic back painLupus 
InfectionsSome people have developed fibromyalgia following an infection, especially if the infection symptoms were severe. 
StressAlthough stress levels can’t be accurately measured with a medical test, your experience of acute or chronic stress can have a serious impact on your health, and can lead to the development of conditions like fibromyalgia. 
Traumatic ExperiencesPeople who have experienced physical or emotional traumas or a serious physical injury may develop fibromyalgia.

Who is most likely to develop fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia affects approximately 4 million people in America, most commonly diagnosed in middle-aged women. It may also be as high as 5% of the global population, with 80-96% of these cases being predominantly women.

Fibromyalgia tends to run in families, and there are particular genetic factors that may contribute to the onset of the disorder. 

However, researchers also believe that there are non-genetic, environmental factors that also play a role in the person’s risk of developing fibromyalgia. 

Environmental triggers of the onset of fibromyalgia may include having another disease (or diseases) that cause pain – such as rheumatoid arthritis – or mental health struggles – such as anxiety and/or depression. 

While each of these conditions have differentiations, the commonality between them is pain. 

Fibromyalgia Spotlight: A few years ago Lady Gaga revealed that she has fibromyalgia and has since become an advocate for women who are also experiencing fibromyalgia. 

Where is fibromyalgia felt in the body?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that can cause pain in the back, neck, shoulders, chest, hips, arms, legs and buttocks.

Fibromyalgia can be experienced as acute and chronic pain (meaning, severe and ongoing), or the symptoms can come and go in flare-ups, which usually coincide with periods of increased stress in one’s life, but can also be exacerbated by weather fluctuations or over-exertion. 

When is fibromyalgia the worst? 

Some people with fibromyalgia report that the pain is sometimes worse in the mornings and the evenings, though some also say that the pain lasts all day long. 

Here are some other factors that can cause fibromyalgia flare-ups:

  • High levels of stress (either in your job or your personal life)
  • Changes to your daily routine 
  • Becoming sick with another medical condition or a common illness 
  • Starting new medication
  • Changing an existing fibromyalgia treatment system 
  • Changes to diet and a lack of nutrition 
  • Not getting enough sleep 
  • Hormone changes or deficiencies in your body 

Some people with fibromyalgia also report that the pain intensifies during weather events (like rain storms, high/low temperatures, and major shifts in barometric pressure). 

There are also some people with fibromyalgia who report that the pain is worse when they experience sensory overstimulation, such as when there are very bright lights or loud noises. 

Is fibromyalgia a women’s disorder?

Unfortunately, women’s pain has often been dismissed as exaggerated, imagined, or simply stated as a “normal” part of being female in the medical profession. 

Historically, conditions that impact only or predominantly women have been under-researched and held with unnecessary suspicion, and sometimes contempt. 

Fibromyalgia in men

Fibromyalgia has been known throughout history primarily as a “woman’s diagnosis,” but this disorder can also occur in men.

In fact, some believe that men are perhaps as impacted by fibromyalgia as women are. However, the numbers are far lower in men when it comes to diagnoses. 

How to diagnose fibromyalgia 

Unfortunately, there is no single test that can diagnose fibromyalgia, which is problematic for both men and women, because it’s hard to make a definitive diagnosis on something that can’t be isolated from some other common illnesses with similar symptoms (as in the table above). 

Until around 2010, there was specific criteria that needed to be present before you could get a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Patients needed to present with 11 or more of 18 different tender points, and if the patient didn’t present with all of them, they were not considered to have fibromyalgia. 

Now, of course, medicine has advanced just enough to know that every single patient with the same condition may not experience it in exactly the same way. 

Just because someone does not present how they “should” with a certain condition does not necessarily mean they don’t have it. 

Since then, new guidelines have emerged no longer requiring a physical exam to diagnose  fibromyalgia. Widespread bilateral pain throughout the body combined with lack of sleep and brain fog can typically be given the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. 

How to treat and manage fibromyalgia 

There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but there is symptom management and various preventative approaches. 

The primary objective of anyone presenting with fibromyalgia is to reduce sensitivity to pain. 

Exercise is important for every body – and yet those who have fibromyalgia often find even small amounts of exercise extremely painful, and movement is limited. The concept of graded exercise therapy (GET) has to be undertaken carefully.

Often, treatment of fibromyalgia involves a combination of antidepressants, sleep medication, and pain management medication (including cannabis related medications). 

The ultimate goal is to address pain and find ways to alter the experience of pain to reduce overall sensitivity and build resiliency – which together will allow the body to relax enough to begin to slowly make lifestyle changes (better sleep, gradual increase in physical activity, etc). 

Supplements and lifestyle changes are necessary to facilitate these changes. 

Fibromyalgia and opioids: a cautionary tale

For a long time in recent decades, the first response to complaints of chronic pain was to prescribe opioids (narcotic painkillers) for pain management. Prescription opioids may treat the symptom, but they don’t address the cause. Not to mention, opioids can come with their own risks. For example, opioids may increase sensitivity to pain in those with fibromyalgia.

According to some research, women are more likely than men to:

  • Be given prescriptions for opioid medications 
  • Become dependent on opioids 

When we talk about pain management medication, we are not referring to opioids. We prefer to find gentle, non-life-altering solutions to managing the symptoms of fibromyalgia, including treatments that don’t require the use of pain medications. 

A new non-invasive, non-drug treatment for fibromyalgia

Quell is an exciting new FDA-approved non-invasive, non-drug prescription medical device that can be fastened around the calf and kept on (if kept dry) day and night. 

Through minute electrical pulsations that trigger pain relief by dialing down pain sensitivity, fibromyalgia pains can be reduced or rendered less noticeable. Using an app connected to the device, you can adjust when and at what intensity these pulsations are released for moments when symptoms are at their worst.

Fibromyalgia and hormonal imbalances 

If you’ve been following Revivele for a while, you may have read this blog and thought: the risk factors for developing fibromyalgia sound a lot like the common difficulties faced by the majority of women as we age. 

You would be correct. There is a very strong correlation between fibromyalgia and hormone imbalances. 

Lack of sleep, inflammation, hormonal fluctuations, nutritional imbalances, general body aches, brain fog, mood fluctuations, insomnia, and joint or muscle pain, are also highly common in women who are experiencing perimenopause and menopause.

As such, women presenting with fibromyalgia may believe – and their healthcare provider may believe – that they are dealing with perimenopause, and a diagnosis of fibromyalgia may go overlooked. 

Is fibromyalgia different from perimenopause?

Although the symptoms can be similar, the “normal” experience of perimenopause should not include extreme full-body pain and sensitivity. 

While women experiencing perimenopause may have body aches, joint inflammation, pain and swelling, normal levels of exertion and exercise should not feel debilitating. 

If you are experiencing perimenopause and have debilitating, long-lasting pain (either in flare-ups or without relief), this is not a normal part of perimenopause and aging. Speak to your healthcare provider to start exploring a diagnosis that goes beyond perimenopause. 

Fibromyalgia vs. hormonal balance

There is no cure for fibromyalgia. There’s also no absolute guarantee that you will or won’t develop fibromyalgia in your lifetime. 

The one thing that you can know for certain is that you can start taking care of your body with hormonal and nutritional supplements at any age – and that any preventative measures are worth your while. 

In order to properly manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia, an assessment of your hormones should take place. You shouldn’t settle for medical care that doesn’t take your hormones into account, because – as women in particular – the peaks and valleys of our hormonal stability governs many aspects of our lives. 

Womens’ health supplements and fibromyalgia 

Revivele is a company created by women for women, with women’s health in mind. 

Our Essentials supplements were originally created to benefit women’s brain health and perimenopausal symptoms as we age – which means that they’re already prepped and ready to be used as a support to manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia. 

The key supplements used for managing fibromyalgia symptoms include: 

  • Coenzyme Q10  
  • Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin D
  • Melatonin 
  • Probiotics 

All of these ingredients listed above are in our Essentials line of women’s health supplements. 

COMING SOON: Fibromyalgia clinic for women

Coming soon, we are excited to report that we will soon be opening the Revivele Medical Clinic – an international virtual telemedicine program to assess and manage women’s health concerns, such as fibromyalgia. 

If you would be interested in attending or participating, send us a message on Instagram or email us at support@revivele.com.

Take your health in your hands

If you’re interested in learning more about how to maintain your health as you age, read our other blogs, which are full of helpful details, research, and woman-to-woman understanding. We’re all in this together!

To learn more about women’s health and wellness, and to understand the beneficial effects supplements can have on women’s bodies as we age, follow Dr. Kavita Desai’s women’s health & wellness company, Revivele, on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn!

You can also order Dr. Kavita Desai’s book, Lady Parts: Putting Women’s Health Back Into Women’s Hands

What to read next…

Female Hormones 101: What you never knew you didn’t know about how your hormones affect your mood.

Thinking about weight loss? Find the details on whether berberine is really nature’s Ozempic.

Healthy eating habits: The 5 health benefits of antioxidants.

Beyond Ozempic: The Actual Role of Berberine in Weight Loss and Glucose Control

Beyond Ozempic: The Actual Role of Berberine in Weight Loss and Glucose Control

Abstract: Can berberine really be used as an alternative to Ozempic to lose weight and manage diabetes?

In recent years, a growing number of Canadian and American adults have been seeking cost-effective and safe methods to manage diabetes and chronic weight issues. 

This pursuit has sparked a surge in demand for both medicinal and natural solutions. Among these, Ozempic, a drug initially developed for reducing blood sugar levels in Type 2 diabetes patients and minimizing heart disease risks, has gained significant attention. Notably, while weight loss has been observed as a side effect of Ozempic, it is crucial to understand that this is not its intended use. Moreover, medications containing semaglutide, similar to Ozempic, have been introduced specifically for weight loss.

However, the rising popularity of Ozempic led to supply shortages and heightened awareness of its potential side effects. These developments have prompted some individuals to seek alternatives like berberine, often touted in the media as “nature’s Ozempic” for its supposed benefits in treating diabetes and obesity.

It’s important to state unequivocally that our discussion does not endorse the use of Ozempic primarily for weight loss, nor do we equate berberine as a direct substitute. 

While berberine is a natural supplement with potential health benefits, its comparison with Ozempic is not appropriate or advised. 

In this article we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of berberine – highlighting both its benefits and limitations – to help women make informed decisions about supplement use, distinct from pharmaceutical treatments like Ozempic.

Keep reading to learn…

  1. What is berberine?
  2. Berberine versus Ozempic – what are the differences?
  3. Should people take berberine to treat diabetes?
  4. What is the best way to incorporate berberine into your diet?

What is berberine? 

Berberine is a traditional Chinese medicine that has become very popular lately as a weight-loss supplement that some have called “nature’s Ozempic.” 

While berberine should not be directly compared to Ozempic, it is notable for its low side effect profile and a range of potential health benefits that merit consideration on their own merits.

Berberine is a bioactive compound, which means that it’s a chemical substance that can affect how humans and other living things function. It is derived from plants, and is part of a group called alkaloids (such as morphine, nicotine, and caffeine).  

Berberine is a natural supplement which may help with weight loss, as well as to help lower blood sugars and protect your heart – but there’s more to it than that. 

Some research indicates that berberine might be effective in treating chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, and inflammatory diseases – but the research thus far is limited, which means that these findings could be proven untrue in the future.  

How does berberine work?

Berberine can be taken as a pill or powder. Once taken, berberine enters your bloodstream and travels through your body to different cells and changes how they work. 

What does that mean? 

It means that berberine has the capacity to alter how your cells are working inside your body. Berberine can turn certain cell functions on or off. This cellular influence of berberine is primarily due to its ability to interact with molecular targets within the cells, leading to changes in their metabolic activities. Such interactions can have a profound impact on various bodily processes, including how cells regulate glucose and lipid metabolism, potentially offering therapeutic benefits for conditions like diabetes and high cholesterol.

Berberine has also been compared to metformin, another glucose-lowering drug that has been used for many years to treat Type 2 diabetes, although they are structurally different, and berberine has not been proven to be an effective treatment of Type 2 diabetes, while metformin has. However, there are a number of studies that have shown the potential benefits of berberine on Type 2 diabetes including positive effects on blood sugar and lipid metabolism. 

Side effects of berberine

While many people take berberine for weight loss benefits, it’s important to know that even this natural supplement may come with some side effects, albeit usually mild and controllable. The side effects of berberine are often quite tolerable and are not severe (especially in comparison to Ozempic), these side effects can include:

  • Abdominal discomfort or swelling
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea 

For many who take berberine, lowering the dose may prove an effective way to reduce side-effects or simply taking it with food can help. If you begin taking berberine supplements, you should not start taking the maximum dosage. 

Always speak with a doctor or pharmacist before you start taking any supplement or medication to understand your recommended dosage. 

Berberine versus Ozempic – what are the differences?

If you do a quick search about berberine and its benefits, you immediately find information that berberine can help treat diabetes and that it can be used for weight loss. 

On the surface, it sounds like berberine is an alternative to Ozempic. 

As Ozempic is now a prescription medication, and becoming extremely expensive and hard to access due to supply and demand issues, berberine seems like a dream come true for many people seeking affordable, easy-to-get solutions for diabetes and weight management concerns. 

However, we need to dig a little deeper into what Ozempic and berberine really are before we can determine if they really are equally beneficial.

Should people take berberine to treat diabetes?

Ozempic is a brand name for a medication known generically as semaglutide. Ozempic was approved in 2017 by the FDA for use in managing Type 2 diabetes by way of weekly injections. 

Ozempic is used to lower blood sugar by helping the pancreas make more insulin. Ozempic is also known for its effectiveness in convincing your brain that you’re full, to prevent overeating, and to assist with weight loss. 

Berberine has also undergone clinical studies that indicate that it is capable of decreasing insulin resistance – which is responsible for 80% of glucose issues common with Type 2 diabetes. 

Berberine has been shown to be effective in helping with insulin resistance, and altering how your cells use glucose, and is stated to be an effective method in reducing diabetic complications, like cardiovascular complications, inflammatory problems, and other medical side-effects common to Type 2 diabetes. 

However, the same studies also state that berberine’s anti-hyperglycemic effects remain controversial in the medical community due to the fact that its exact method (the mechanics) of making these improvements in the body remains uncertain, and longer studies are called for in order to fully understand the effects of berberine in treating diabetes. 

Should berberine be used instead of Ozempic?

Berberine may have benefits in managing blood sugars, but you should never stop a medical treatment, such as insulin therapy, to start taking berberine instead, especially without talking to your doctor. 

Before taking berberine, you should speak with your healthcare team to make sure that you do not have any medical conditions or health complications that would make taking berberine dangerous. 

Although berberine acts similarly to Ozempic, you should not stop your Ozempic treatment to begin taking berberine without speaking to your healthcare provider first. 

If you have recently been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, a discussion about the use of berberine to manage symptoms of diabetes is certainly encouraged. Berberine may be effective in managing Type 2 diabetes prior to the initiation of insulin therapy.

Who should avoid taking berberine?

You should not start taking berberine supplements without consulting your healthcare provider if you are currently: 

  • Already taking a medication to treat Type 2 diabetes
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding 
  • Taking blood sugar, blood lipid, blood clotting, or blood pressure medications
  • Taking any other prescription medications
  • Taking medications that interact with the liver (as berberine may make certain medications less effective)

You should also not give berberine to children or infants, as there are no studies currently indicating that it is safe to do so. 

What is the best way to incorporate berberine into your diet?

According to studies shared by the Cleveland Clinic, there are several things you need to consider before you start incorporating berberine into your daily routine, including: 

  • Half a dose of berberine will be metabolized and eliminated from your system within a few hours of taking a dose. 
  • To keep your blood levels stable and benefit from taking berberine, you need to spread the daily dosage out throughout the day. 
  • Some people find taking 1.5 grams or 1500 milligrams daily effective, if taken three times a day before meals
  • Just remember: berberine may interact with other medications, so speak to your healthcare provider before taking berberine

However, as mentioned above, the FDA doesn’t approve supplements in the same fashion as pharmaceuticals before they are sold to the public, so it’s important to trust your source before you start taking any supplements.

Where to find safe berberine supplements 

If you’re looking for well-researched supplements created by women, for women, you can find berberine in Revivele’s Essentials line now. 

Created by Dr. Kavita Desai, an advocate for and champion of women’s health, the Essential’s revolutionary supplement system was created with female health and wellness in mind. 

Essential’s Inhale & Flow Combo of supplements are specifically designed to help with some of the common complications women are experiencing when they consider using berberine:

  • Inhale has 18 vitamins, minerals and herbs that are specifically dosed for blood glucose control, inflammation, low energy, cognition, immunity, and heart health.
  • Flow is an adaptogenic supplement that contains ashwagandha, holy basil and rhodiola to help your body cope with stress, turmeric to address pain and inflammation, and ceylon cinnamon and berberine to help balance blood sugars.

Together, they are meant to address commonly experienced symptoms, balance blood sugars, reduce stress, and protect your health for many years to come.

Take your health into your own hands

If you’re interested in learning more about how to maintain your health as you age, read our other blogs, which are full of helpful details, research, and woman-to-woman understanding. We’re all in this together!

To learn more about women’s health and wellness, and to understand the beneficial effects supplements can have on women’s bodies as we age, follow Dr. Kavita Desai’s women’s health & wellness company, Revivele, on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn!

You can also order Dr. Kavita Desai’s book, Lady Parts: Putting Women’s Health Back Into Women’s Hands.

What to read next…

The heavy truth about perimenopausal weight gain: what you need to know. 

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Signs Perimenopause is Ending

Signs Perimenopause is Ending

Abstract: Perimenopause is a process that can take years – so what are the signs perimenopause is ending?

Are you riding the rollercoaster of perimenopause and eager for the ride to end? If so, you might be looking for signs your journey is nearing its final stop – menopause. 

Recognizing signs perimenopause is ending can be very difficult for all women – but there are some simple solutions that can make spotting the signs a little bit easier.

The perimenopause phase begins anywhere between a woman’s mid-30s to mid-50s and can last up to 10 years.

Perimenopause ends with menopause, which is actually just one day in a woman’s life (the 1-year anniversary of the last time you had a period).

Keep reading to learn: 

  1. Signs perimenopause has begun 
  2. Signs perimenopause is ending 
  3. How to notice signs perimenopause is ending 
  4. 10 signs perimenopause is ending
  5. Stay in-the-know on women’s health issues

Signs perimenopause has begun

In order to understand any signs perimenopause is ending, we should briefly refresh ourselves on what perimenopause is and how we know we’ve entered the perimenopause. 

Here are some key definitions that will help.

What is perimenopause?

Perimenopause is the time in a woman’s life when menstruation is slowly coming to an end. The perimenopausal phase can take anywhere between two years to ten years.

Perimenopause is a natural part of a woman’s life, and you can learn more about how, why and when perimenopause is likely to take place

When does perimenopause start?

Perimenopause can begin anywhere between a woman’s mid-30s to her mid-50s. One of the key signs of perimenopause is irregular periods. 

What is an irregular period?

An irregular period means that your typical monthly cycles have begun to change (get shorter or longer, come later or sooner than expected, with bleeding that is heavier or lighter than what is usual for your body.

A “regular” period is usually 4 – 7 days long, and occurs roughly once every 28 days. In contrast, a period is considered “irregular” if it comes in fewer than 21 days or more than 35 days apart, or if you miss more than three periods in a row. 

Symptoms of perimenopause

Some common symptoms of perimenopause include: 

  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • Chills and cold spells
  • Trouble sleeping, including nightmares
  • Mental confusion and “brain fog” 
  • Vaginal dryness, discomfort during sex, and decreased interested in sex

Signs perimenopause is ending

As mentioned above, perimenopause can last for years – so how are women to know when this phase of their lives is coming to an end? 

To answer that question, let’s first talk about the phase that comes after perimenopause: menopause. 

When does menopause begin?

When perimenopause ends, menopause has officially begun. But what exactly is menopause? 

Actually, you may be surprised to know that “menopause” is just one day of your life. 

We refer to it as a phase of life, but it’s actually the one-year anniversary of the last period you ever had. One day, you’ll start your last period – but you won’t know it’s your last time until one full year (12 months) later. 

What are the signs that perimenopause is ending?

This can be a tough question to answer. Everyone experiences different periods, different symptoms, and as mentioned above, perimenopause can last for years. 

Your experience and duration of perimenopause may be different from that of your sister’s, or your mother’s, or your friend’s. As mentioned above, you won’t know that you’ve had your last period until you’ve gone 12 months without one. 

However, you can expect to go through three phases during perimenopause: 

  • Phase 1: Your regular monthly period is interrupted by months of irregularity (changes to length, flow, etc).
  • Phase 2: Your irregular periods start to come less frequently. You may go months without any sign of a period, and then experience a full period or only some light spotting unexpectedly.
  • Phase 3: The one-year anniversary of your last period. On this day, you have “experienced menopause,” and from then on you will no longer ovulate, have periods, or be able to conceive a child.

Menopause causes changes to hormone production, which can have a significant impact on your physical and mental health. 

Once you reach perimenopause, you should keep track of regular screening tests that will help you monitor your physical and mental health as you age. 

How to notice signs perimenopause is ending

At the end of the day, in order to recognize the signs that perimenopause is ending, you need to be the expert on your menstrual cycle. 

Only if you know exactly what “normal” is for your body will you be able to truly notice when things begin to change. The term “irregular period” means nothing if you don’t have a baseline to compare it to. 

Which is how we’ve come to our next piece of advice for all women (see below). 

Become the expert on your cycle

It’s extremely important to track your menstrual cycles, even if you’re not trying to conceive (which is, for many women, the only time in their lives that they rigorously track their cycles and cycle symptoms). 

It can be time-consuming to track each symptom of each month of your period, but we cannot stress enough how empowering it will be for you to become an expert on your cycle. 

By religiously tracking your cycles each month, you will be the expert on: 

  • The length of each cycle: How long is your cycle? 25 days, 28 days? If you know this, you’ll know immediately if your period starts coming sooner or later during perimenopause, and whether or not your period starts skipping months (common in perimenopause).
  • The length of each period: This will allow you to know with confidence how many days you usually bleed for (3 days, 7 days). If your periods become shorter or longer, you’ll know at once. 
  • The symptoms of your period: Do you usually have cramps? Do you only have cramps on day 2? Do you get cramps 4 days before your period but not during your period? The more detail you include in your tracking app or period journal, the better prepared you’ll be to immediately spot changes in later years. 
  • Mood monitoring: Many women experience low mood immediately before or during their period. Many women also experience changes to their mood during perimenopause. If you track even your emotional symptoms, you’ll be able to speak to your healthcare provider about low moods that seem to persist for days or weeks at a time, which will allow you and your doctor to determine what you need to maintain your health. 

Ideally, all women should track their periods from puberty to menopause so that they have a lifetime of knowledge about their reproductive and hormonal health. 

If you have never tracked your periods before in your life, it’s not too late to start. If you have already reached the perimenopausal phase of your life, you should start keeping a journal of the dates and symptoms of any irregular periods you have, as well as any health issues you experience. 

If ever you need to consult a health expert regarding your health, the more information you have, the easier it will be to assess, diagnose, and treat symptoms and conditions as they arise. 

10 Signs perimenopause may be ending 

As you track your cycle, begin to look out for the following signs that may indicate perimenopause is ending. 

  1. Irregular Periods: A notable decrease in the frequency of periods, or irregular cycles.
  1. Lighter Periods: Reduced menstrual flow or shorter duration of periods.
  1. Change in Hot Flashes: For some women menopause marks the end of perimenopause hot flashes, while for others, menopause means the beginning of hot flashes. 
  1. Stabilizing Mood Swings: Less severe or less frequent mood swings. For some women entering menopause marks fewer mood swings and psychological symptoms. 
  1.  Improved Sleep Patterns: Many women notice that the sleep disturbances experienced during perimenopause decrease after menopause. 
  1. Changes in Vaginal Health: Menopause marks a permanent drop in estrogen, which can lead to vulvovaginall atrophy and vaginal dryness. 
  1. Stabilization of Hormonal Fluctuations: Fewer symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance.
  1. Return of Libido: Some women may notice an increase in sexual desire or a stabilization of libido. However, sexual dysfunction may be more likely due to vaginal atrophy. 
  1. Bone Density Instability: Estrogen is critical for bone health and with lower levels you may be at an increased risk for osteoporosis. 
  1.  Hair and Skin Changes: Changes in hair (less hair loss) and skin (less dryness) indicating hormonal shifts are settling.

The journey towards the end of perimenopause is a deeply personal and varied experience, characterized by changes that may include increasingly spaced-out periods or even an absence of menstruation for months. However, the path is not uniform for everyone. While some may encounter intensified symptoms like hot flashes as they approach menopause, others might only experience these after the transition is complete.

For those seeking a deeper understanding of their symptoms or interested in hormone testing, consulting with a healthcare professional is advisable. The right healthcare specialist can provide tailored advice and support, helping to navigate this complex but natural stage of life with greater ease and clarity.

Stay in-the-know on women’s health issues by following Revivele

Revivele is a research-based information resource for women, by women. We believe that every woman should have access to the information she needs to prioritize her health, advocate for her needs, and take action to prevent the development of possible health concerns like dementia. 

Imbalanced hormones can be frustrating, exhausting, confusing, and stressful for women experiencing fluctuations. 

With more knowledge about your hormones, your health, and your brain health, you can demystify the aging process and take steps to maintain your health as you age. 

How to stay in touch with Revivele

If you’re interested in learning more about how to maintain your health as you age, read our other blogs, which are full of helpful details, research, and woman-to-woman understanding. We’re all in this together!

To learn more about perimenopause and other women’s health issues, be sure to read Dr. Kavita Desai’s new book, Lady Parts: Putting Women’s Health Back Into Women’s Hands, and follow her women’s health & wellness company, Revivele, on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn!

What to read next: 

How do women navigate changes to their sexual health as they age?

How to navigate parenting when puberty and perimenopause start at the same time? 

Find out why we believe taking supplements is essential to women’s health.