Marla Ahlgrimm R.Ph.

Marla Ahlgrimm | Retired Pharmacist | Leading Expert in Women's Health

Menopause/Perimenopause Explained by Marla Ahlgrimm

marla ahlgrimmIn this Q & A, Women’s Health America founder Marla Ahlgrimm answers questions about one of life’s most anticipated and often misunderstood physical changes.

Q: We know menopause is “the change of life” when a woman naturally loses her fertility. What causes it?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Menopause, and its predecessor, perimenopause, happen when the body’s hormone levels begin to drop. In women over 40, this is a very natural process and signals that childbearing years are over. Perimenopause can last for up to eight years or more.

Q: How can a woman tell when menopause begins?

Marla Ahlgrimm: One of the first indications that change is on the horizon is periods that are lighter or missed. Insomnia, night sweats, irritability, and even depression are also common. Osteoporosis, a condition where the bones thin faster than previously, is another indicator that can cause long-term damage if not controlled. Many women report their most bothersome symptom is vaginal dryness, which affects the desire for intercourse.

Q: Is there an official diagnosis for menopause?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Yes, doctors nowadays will usually offer a clinical diagnosis of menopause. This is typically based on a woman’s own account of her symptoms. Women who are under the age of 40 may need laboratory testing to confirm the condition. Many OBGYNs and primary health providers also recommend bone density screening at this time.

Q: What are some ways that a woman can relieve some of the discomforts associated with hormonal changes that occur during menopause?

Marla Ahlgrimm: The best advice that any woman can hear is to simply live a healthy lifestyle, all of the time. Drink water instead of soda, don’t smoke, stay active, and get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. Beyond that, if symptoms become unmanageable, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is an option. HRT involves replacing waning hormones with lab-created identical hormones. Estrogen and Progesterone are the two chemicals that are restored through HRT and work together to relieve vaginal dryness, mood disorders, sleep disturbances, and hot flashes.


Author: Marla Ahlgrimm

Pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm revolutionized the field of women’s health in the 1970s and continues to do so today. After introducing the term “premenstrual syndrome” to the American public in the late 1970s, Marla Ahlgrimm has continued to focus her pharmacy practice over the years to successfully address hormone concerns that affect women as they age. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Marla Ahlgrimm co-founded Madison Pharmacy Associates, and it was there she fine tuned individualized care protocols and prescription medication to optimize a woman’s hormonal health. One of the first hormone issues that Marla tackled was Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS. At that time, there were no diagnosis or treatment options to address the severe symptoms that many women were reporting. As a result of Marla Ahlgrimm ’s intense attention to women’s health, Madison Pharmacy Associates gained a national reputation as an innovative practice. Founded in 1982, Madison Pharmacy Associates was the first pharmacy to special in women’s health in the nation. Thanks to the expertise of Marla Ahlgrimm, Madison Pharmacy Associates became known for the management of PMS. Over the years, Madison Pharmacy Associates evolved with Marla Ahlgrimm’s careful guidance, providing the national PMS Access newsletter, as well as a toll-free line where patients could obtain referrals to physicians who had the expertise to help them manage their symptoms. Marla Ahlgrimm founded Women’s Health America, Inc. in 1993 to help women by providing individualized hormonal medications to address the complex health issues of women and also to provide practical, helpful women’s health information. Over the years, Marla Ahlgrimm’s vision has grown to include Women’s Health America, Madison Pharmacy Associates, PMS Access and Cyclin Pharmaceuticals. In addition to her accomplishments with these landmark organizations, Marla Ahlgrimm is an author, having published two watershed books, The HRT Solution and Self-Help for Premenstrual Syndrome. Marla Ahlgrimm has also been published in numerous national publications, including serving as a columnist for The American Journal of Natural Medicine. Today, the primary work of Marla Ahlgrimm centers on natural hormone therapy, an important area for the large number of women who are menopausal and postmenopausal. Marla Ahlgrimm ’s work is unique because of her focus on individualized, natural hormone therapy options. According to pharmacist, Marla Ahlgrimm, many health issues facing women today are related to hormone changes. Using an individualized approach to therapy, she reports that many women feel reenergized for the first time in years. In addition to recognition in publications and journals, Marla Ahlgrimm has been recognized with a number awards over the span of her career. Some of Marla Ahlgrimm ’s most notable awards have been the YWCA’s acknowledgment of Marla Ahlgrimm as one of its Women of Distinction and recognition by her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, as one of its Distinguished Alumni. Above all of the awards and honors, Marla Ahlgrimm finds that helping so many women is the greatest accomplishment of all. In fact, says Marla Ahlgrimm, she still works with some of her very first patients and their doctors. These women once sought the help of Marla Ahlgrimm for PMS, she says, and today she is helping them manage symptoms of menopause and the years that follow.

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