What Other Factors Influence When Perimenopause Starts Or When A Woman Reaches Menopause
New research published online on April 12 in Menopause, the journal of NAMS, looked at the various factors that may affect the age when natural menopause occurs.
They found that there are factors that do seem predictive of when a woman will approach menopause, such as higher estradiol and follicle-stimulating hormone levels, which weve known for a while,” says Streicher. Irregular menstrual bleeding and hot flashes were also indicators of earlier menopause, she adds.
One new finding uncovered in the research was around alcohol consumption. The authors observed that participants tended to increase their alcohol consumption when approaching menopause, making it a potential clue that the change was coming.
That makes sense, says Streicher. This can be a time of added stress for women, and we know that any stressful situation can cause someone to drink more, she says.
Although this study didnt find a strong association with smoking, other research has indicated that smoking is related to early onset of menopause, says Streicher.
The Risks & Benefits Of Mht
Many studies have investigated whether MHT increases the risk of cancers, further illness and disease. There have been many reports in the media about the risks of MHT.
In 2002, researchers from a large study in the United States reported that the risks of MHT outweighed the benefits of taking it. This caused an 80% drop in the use of MHT in the United States, and 50% of women in Australia stopped using their MHT. Professor Henry Burger, a founding director of Jean Hailes, says, “At least half of those women saw their symptoms return and that meant their quality of life significantly suffered”, and “I think that was one of the worst consequences â the decreased quality of life and feeling that you couldn’t do anything about it”.
However, a recent comprehensive review of evidence on MHT has found MHT is an effective and safe treatment for the relief of menopausal symptoms for healthy women. The data from this study has shown that in women between 50 and 60 years, the risks of MHT are low.
How To Treat Menopause Without Hormone Replacement Therapy
So heres a list of common menopausal symptoms and how you can treat them:
1. Dry vaginal tissue or pain with intercourse: As estrogen declines, it stops feeding our genital system, and this area becomes very dry–we call it atrophic vaginitis, because the tissue in the vagina literally atrophies a tad, frequently causing intercourse to become painful and unpleasant. I often suggest using extra lubrication during sex, including types with a warming effect. An over-the-counter vaginal moisturizer, such as Replens, used three times a week may also be helpful. But for some, those methods may not be sufficient. In those cases, there are various prescription intravaginal estrogen preparations you can use that are available as a cream, a tablet, and even as a plastic ring that is self-inserted. It tends to work very well, however, it can take up to eight weeks to start feeling a difference.
3. Osteoporosis: Estrogen builds bone. So when it drops, women often experience more of a bone mass decline. Screening for osteoporosis is currently recommended for all women age 65 and higher, or for younger women who have any big risk factors. For more information on how to treat this important health condition, refer to my osteoporosis podcast.
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Breast Cancer And Hrt
Women over 50 years of age who use combined oestrogen and progestogen replacement for less than five years have little or no increased risk of breast cancer. Women who use combined HRT for more than five years have a slightly increased risk. Women on oestrogen alone have no increased risk up to 15 years of usage.
There is no evidence to suggest that a woman with a family history of breast cancer will have an added increased risk of developing breast cancer if she uses HRT. The risk with combined oestrogen and progestogen is greater than with oestrogen alone, or with newer HRT agents such as tibolone , and may also depend on the type of progestogen used. Studies suggest that medroxyprogesterone acetate and norethisterone have higher risks than dydrogesterone and progesterone.
Oestrogen Only Menopausal Hormone Therapy
Women generally undergo menopause between the ages of 45 and 55 years. Around the time of menopause many women may experience symptoms such as hot flushes, sweats, vaginal dryness, loss of libido, irritability, sleep disturbance, and muscle/joint pains. There are a number of ways of managing these symptoms, but for those whose symptoms are troublesome and disruptive, oestrogen containing HRT may be considered.
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Phytoestrogens & Menopausal Symptoms
Phytoestrogens are compounds that occur naturally in plants and that, under certain circumstances, show some of the same activities as the female hormone oestrogen.
Phytoestrogens are much weaker than human oestrogen, and their effects are different from the hormones found in menopausal hormone therapy .
About one in three women may benefit from a phytoestrogen-rich diet to reduce menopausal symptoms, as these women have the particular bacteria in the gut that helps to convert the phytoestrogens in soy to a more potent form. Read more about phytoestrogens and why they can be beneficial for some women going through menopause.
Hot Flushes And Night Sweats
These are the symptoms most commonly associated with menopause.
You can reduce the impact of hot flushes if you can identify and avoid anything that may trigger them, for example, hot drinks, hot weather, stressful circumstances, spicy foods. Some women find it helpful to dress in layers to help them cool down more quickly. Some find a fan helpful. Stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness or meditation might also help ease this symptom.
Night sweats that disturb sleep are one of the most troublesome symptoms of menopause. Wearing light breathable bed clothes or sleeping naked might help ease this symptom. Some women use separate bed covers from their partners to avoid over-heating at night. A bedroom fan may also help.
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How Long Do You Take Mht
Current guidelines recommend women who take MHT for menopausal symptoms take the lowest effective dose to alleviate symptoms for as long as is needed. For the treatment of symptoms, women can stay on MHT for as long as is required to relieve their symptoms. Current thinking is that the benefits of MHT far outweigh the risks in healthy women within 10 years of the menopause or between 50 and 60 years of age. MHT does not need to be discontinued after five years because:
- the mean duration of menopausal symptoms is approximately eight years
- 20â25% of women will have bothersome symptoms in their 60s and 70s
- 10% of women will have bothersome symptoms for 10 years or more.
Every year, it is important to have a discussion with your doctor about management of your menopausal symptoms. Some women can take MHT safely for many years, but this must be assessed on an individual basis and be supported with annual reviews by your doctor.
In women with premature menopause, MHT is prescribed in high doses and recommended to continue until the age of expected menopause, about 50-52 years.
A progestogen may be prescribed as an IUD, usually initiated in the perimenopause
As a general rule when using MHT in midlife:
- start low
- review often
Complementary And Alternative Treatments
Some women consider taking complementary and alternative treatments instead of taking hormone replacement therapy . There is a massive market for products to help with menopausal symptoms, but many of these are not proven to be safe or do not have good research to support their effectiveness.
For example, the following have been marketed for menopausal symptoms: black cohosh, red clover, dong quai, evening primrose oil, ginseng, soy and St John’s wort.
However, just because a product is labelled ‘natural’ does not mean that it is automatically safe and free from potentially damaging chemicals. Herbal remedies are not regulated by a medicine authority in the same way as prescribed medicines are. They should not be considered as a safer alternative to HRT, as there is so much variety in their effectiveness and potency. Many herbal medicines have unpredictable doses and purity. In addition, some products have significant side-effects and can interfere with other medicines.
The regulatory bodies have developed a system called Traditional Herbal Registration . Any herbal products that have been approved by this system have a THR logo on their packs. This means that the product has the correct dosage and is of a high quality. The pack will also contain product information.
Isoflavones and black cohosh
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How Rachel Used Dietary Changes To Reverse Her Early Menopause Diagnosis
Im convinced stress caused my diagnosis of early menopause at 41. Id crossed countries, got divorced, was a single parent, an executive. I had an au pair, thank goodness. But I had to earn the money to have the au pair and pay the mortgage, because it was just me. The early menopause happened when I actually left work and went freelance. I was in a new relationship, but then it was like going on holiday, my body just went, boom, cant do this anymore.
I went to see a nutritionist and was advised to work on getting my blood sugar levels consistent during the day. I knew nothing about this. I was also given a tincture with things like agnus castus, but the main thing was getting my diet sorted, stripping out anything bad and being consistent with the blood sugar levels. And then I got my periods back! That was incredible!
I got them back for about nine months. It didnt carry on. And it may well have been because I didnt keep up the regime. My body went back to what it was planning to do, I suppose. But if I had been consistent, who knows, I might have carried on having periods for more years.
Thats, that really showed me how much control we actually have over our hormonal balance.
Natural Ways To Reduce Symptoms Of Menopause
Menopause begins in the late 40s or early 50s for most women. It usually lasts for a few years.
During this time, at least two-thirds of women experience symptoms of menopause (
In addition, menopausal women are at a higher risk of several diseases including osteoporosis, obesity, heart disease and diabetes (
Here is a list of 11 natural ways to reduce the symptoms of menopause.
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How To Live Without Hrt
Doctors have been warned that women going through the menopause should be given Hormone Replacement Therapy for no longer than five years, because of the increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease and strokes.
So what other ways are there to cope with the debilitating symptoms that affect millions of women every year?
At 51, I am going through the menopause myself, and as a health and fitness consultant I have been researching natural alternatives to HRT for three years.
Starting today, in a major series no woman should miss, together with health nutritionist Maryon Stewart, I will show you how with changes to your diet, natural supplements and a little exercise, you can transform your life – without the worries of HRT.
A few months ago I turned 51, and I’m the first to admit that I hate getting older. First there’s the peri-menopause, then her witchy twin the menopause, and there’s no way round either of them if you are a woman of a certain age.
With all respect to the medical profession, doctors have not been able to do a lot to help the situation, and as we were reminded again last week, the jury is still out on the benefits of HRT.
Doctors have been warned not to give menopausal women oestrogen or combined oestrogen and progesterone treatment for more than five years because of the increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease and strokes.
Instead of focusing on having a smaller waist or tighter bottom, we now need to see things from a re-focused, healthy point of
How Imbalances In Your Hormones Cause Symptoms
The symptoms you suffer in perimenopause or menopause are caused by extreme shifts in the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. While these hormones have been fluctuating throughout your life, your body has been able to adjust for the most part.
But in perimenopause, your body becomes overwhelmed with these ups and downs, and struggles to produce more sex hormones or balances their levels and ratios. This effort can influence your entire endocrine system, the system of glands that sends hormonal messages throughout our body. Its also the root source for wide-ranging symptoms including fatigue, thinning hair, sleep difficulties and joint discomfort.
The three most common hormonal imbalances for women are:
- Estrogen deficiency, which can lead to symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.
- Progesterone deficiency, leading to irritability, anxiety and insomnia.
- Testosterone deficiency, which can lead to mood swings and a lack of desire for sex.
Each of us has a different hormonal profile that defines how were able to respond to hormonal fluctuations. The key to balancing your hormones is giving your body the extra support it needs.
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Menopause As A Transformational Time In A Womans Life
Menopause is not a terrible and awful thing to be endured! Its so much more than that.
Menopause is when all those reproductive hormones that have been driving us, our emotions, our motivations, everything since puberty, because we are hardwired to nurture essentially. They start to drop and with that comes headspace, so youve suddenly got time to start thinking about what you really want to do with your life.
What happens with a lot of women is they start to question things whether theyre in the right job or the right relationship and perhaps where theyre going with their life.
I like to think of menopause not as something where the door is closing, and the start of a downhill slope, but actually the door opening to this whole new you. You can go and do amazing things because youve got the time, the space and the energy, both mental and physical to do that.
Hrt Does Not Cause Weight Gain
Weight gain at the menopause is related to age and lifestyle factors. An increase in body fat, especially around the abdomen, can occur during menopause because of hormonal changes, although exactly why this happens is not clear. Normal age-related decrease in muscle tissue, and a decrease in exercise levels, can also contribute to weight gain.
Most studies do not show a link between weight gain and HRT use. If a woman is prone to weight gain during her middle years, she will put on weight whether or not she uses HRT.
Some women may experience symptoms at the start of treatment, including bloating, fluid retention and breast fullness, which may be misinterpreted as weight gain. These symptoms usually disappear once the therapy doses are changed to suit the individual.
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Does Hrt Cause Cancer
The American Cancer Society point out that the risk may depend on the type of treatment and the type of cancer.
They report that while one type of HRT may increase the risk of breast cancer slightly, another type may reduce the risk.
Anyone who is thinking of using HRT should talk to their doctor about the specific risks and benefits.
Hot Flashes During Perimenopause
Most women don’t expect to have hot flashes until , so it can be a big surprise when they show up earlier, during perimenopause. Hot flashes sometimes called hot flushes and given the scientific name of vasomotor symptoms are the most commonly reported symptom of perimenopause. They’re also a regular feature of sudden menopause due to surgery or treatment with certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs.
Hot flashes tend to come on rapidly and can last from one to five minutes. They range in severity from a fleeting sense of warmth to a feeling of being consumed by fire “from the inside out.” A major hot flash can induce facial and upper-body flushing, sweating, chills, and sometimes confusion. Having one of these at an inconvenient time can be quite disconcerting. Hot flash frequency varies widely. Some women have a few over the course of a week others may experience 10 or more in the daytime, plus some at night.
Most American women have hot flashes around the time of menopause, but studies of other cultures suggest this experience is not universal. Far fewer Japanese, Korean, and Southeast Asian women report having hot flashes. In Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, women appear not to have any at all. These differences may reflect cultural variations in perceptions, semantics, and lifestyle factors, such as diet.
Natural Hormones Helped Me
Bio-identical hormones worked so well for Jill Davey, 56, from East Boldon, Tyne and Wear, she wrote a book about her experience!
For me, hot flushes were hellish. Quite literally, I felt like I was on fire. There was no escaping them and I had no control over them. They
happened at the most inconvenient times, in restaurants and in meetings. No amount of sitting under air-conditioning, running out into the open air or using fans could calm them.
Fortunately,I didnt get that many but night sweats were a regular occurrence, happening three or four times a week. I would wake up drenched in sweat, throwing the sheets off, tossing and turning to try and get relief.
I had always eaten healthily and exercised regularly. In France, I found a natural supplement aimed at menopausal women called Manhae and that did help a bit with the night sweats.
I didnt want to take the synthetic form of HRT as I was aware of the risk factors involved.
“So about seven years ago, I began to research bio-identical hormones I had heard a debate on Oprah Winfrey about their usefulness for menopausal symptoms and slowing the ageing process in general.I attended some conferences, talked to doctors and then started writing my book.
Very simply, bio-identical hormone restorative therapy works by balancing oestrogen and progesterone. Its individually tailored to each individual and prescribed as micronized gels, drops and a lozenge , depending on the hormone.