Menopause and Bio-Identical Hormones

by Magda O’Farrell

The menopause can be a very difficult time for many women. As Oprah Winfrey says “we really have to stop the shame and embarrassment about menopause and talk more openly about it”. Some of the symptoms of menopause are: failing memory and mental clarity, feeling old with loss of energy, trouble sleeping, loss of sex drive, inability to lose weight and sugar cravings, thinning skin with wrinkles, hair loss, hot flushes, anxiety, irritability and depression. Women can feel frustrated if they have had no success with existing natural therapies. They feel they have no choice between two options: no treatment or the risk of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) side effects.

The miracle of Bio-Identical hormones is truly amazing. Bio-Identical hormones are natural hormone supplements whose bio-chemical structures are identical to those produced by the human body. An exceptionally important advantage of utilizing bio-identical hormones is that the dosages can be tailored to the individuals’ unique hormone requirements. In the United States Bio-Identical hormones are initially prepared as powders by pharmaceutical companies from a natural base, usually soy or yam. They are Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved. The powders are then sent to compounding pharmacies where they are formulated according to doctors’ prescriptions. In most states in the U.S. there are doctors who are trained to the use of Bio-Identical hormones and there are many compound pharmacies.

Over the years women have been referred to me feeling depressed. When I check out their age and symptoms it becomes clear to me they are suffering early onset menopause. In Ireland this doesn’t always show up on blood tests. By the time it does which could be months later, there is no doubt. A symptom may be one of feeling totally exhausted and an inability to stop crying. This crying gets very tiring and can go on for weeks, day after day. Acupuncture can help and certain remedies from the pharmacy or health food store. Doctors may recommend anti-depressants and sleeping tablets. In my opinion this only aggravates the situation. Most clients don’t want to take drugs or HRT so it can be a very difficult and isolating time. Although talking can be a support it won’t balance their feelings. I think it is really important that psychotherapists realise that these feelings are in no way related to childhood hurts or traumas and that we don’t do regression work as this can lead to further emotional pain and can make a client feel even more exhausted.

Last Summer I began to get very interested about all this information after I saw Robin McGraw, talking on the Oprah Winfrey show. Oprah had begun her menopause and these two women talked openly and honestly about how they felt. Robin spoke about how Bio-Identical hormones changed her life. She has since written a book called “What’s age got to do with it”. Christiane Northrup, M.D. joined them and she has also written a brilliant book called “The Wisdom of Menopause” – a ground breaking classic, this book has inspired an entire generation of women with its dramatically new vision of midlife.

I went over to stay with family in the States and bought these books. I was able to purchase many supplements in the health food stores that Christiane recommended. After reading these books I began to get excited and passionate for life again. I just knew there had to be another way. My menopause had left me feeling old and dreadful, with a loss of energy. Doctors in Ireland seemed to be unable to help. I also came to realize that talking about menopause does not balance one’s hormones.

I discovered another remarkable book written by Michael E. Platt, M.D. “The miracle of Bio-Identical Hormones. How I lost my: fatigue, hot flashes, ADHD, ADD, Fibromyalgia, PMS, Osteoporosis, Weight, sexual dysfunction, anger, migraines…”

“People are discovering that in many cases, in order to be healthy they have to become pro-active. They have to take their own health into their own hands. They cannot fully rely on a health system that is not fully committed to their being healthy.

It is my conviction that over time more and more doctors will be tuned into the use of Natural Hormones to prevent and heal illnesses and to search for other preventable disorders. However, this will not happen until patients demand better approaches to their health” (Platt, 2006)

When purchasing supplements in the health food store in Florida they told me that many women suffering from hormone imbalance come over from Ireland and England on holidays and are tested by the doctors, receive their prescriptions, go to the compound pharmacies to collect their Bio-Identical Hormones and return home.

I am so happy to write that I have discovered a wonderful and courageous woman called Nuala Ronan who, along with her husband Matt Ronan, runs a health food store in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford called Evolve. Nuala has arranged for Dr. Paivi Ahtoner who runs a clinic in Harley Street in London to come over to Wexford every few weeks so women can now have a consultation and receive Bio-Identical Hormone through Dr. Paivi here in Ireland.

After taking these Bio-Identical Hormones women generally report feeling better than ever with a return to a feeling of balance and well-being, with restored their energy and renewed sleep patterns. Dr Platt also suggests that we do not forget about men, for they too have hormones. Andropause is the male menopause. He says in his book how men’s hormones change from about 40 years of age. Though it is slow over years they too can suffer from imbalance leading to loss of energy, low sex drive and sadness.

If you want more information about Bio-Identical Hormones you can go online to: www.iacprx. org or or

Magda O’Farrell, IAHIP, ICP maintains a private practice as a psychotherapist in Ballymoney, Gorey Co Wexford.


Ahtonen Dr Paivi

McGraw, R. (2009) What’s age got to do with it? New York: Thomas Nelson

Northrup, C. (2006) The Wisdom of Menopause. New York: Bantam

Platt, M.E. (2007) The Miracle of Bio-Identical Hormones.  California: Clancy Lane