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What Every Woman Should Know About Menopause

How Does Menopause Affect My Bone Health

Navigating ‘The Change’: What Every Woman Should Know About Menopause | Pelin Batur, MD

The decline in estrogen production can affect the amount of calcium in your bones. This can cause significant decreases in bone density, leading to a condition known as osteoporosis. It can also make you more susceptible to hip, spine, and other bone fractures. Many women experience accelerated bone loss the first few years after their last menstrual period.

To keep your bones healthy:

  • Eat foods with lots of calcium, such as dairy products or dark leafy greens.
  • Take vitamin D supplements.
  • Exercise regularly and include weight training in your exercise routine.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption.
  • Avoid smoking.

There are prescription medications you may want to discuss with your doctor to prevent bone loss as well.

When Does Menopause Occur

Although the average age of menopause is 51, menopause can actually happen any time from the 30s to the mid-50s or later. Women who smoke and are underweight tend to have an earlier menopause, while women who are overweight often have a later menopause. Generally, a woman tends to have menopause at about the same age as her mother did.

Menopause can also happen for reasons other than natural reasons. These include:

  • Premature menopause. Premature menopause may happen when there is ovarian failure before the age of 40. It may be associated with smoking, radiation exposure, chemotherapeutic drugs, or surgery that impairs the ovarian blood supply. Premature ovarian failure is also called primary ovarian insufficiency.

  • Surgical menopause. Surgical menopause may follow the removal of one or both ovaries, or radiation of the pelvis, including the ovaries, in premenopausal women. This results in an abrupt menopause. These women often have more severe menopausal symptoms than if they were to have menopause naturally.

Understanding The Menopausal Transition

Menopause is a point in time 12 months after a woman’s last period. The years leading up to that point, when women may have changes in their monthly cycles, hot flashes, or other symptoms, are called the menopausal transition, or perimenopause.

The menopausal transition most often begins between ages 45 and 55. It usually lasts about 7 years but can last as long as 14 years. During the menopausal transition, the body’s production of estrogen and progesterone, two hormones made by the ovaries, varies greatly. Bones become less dense, making women more vulnerable to fractures. During this period, too, the body begins to use energy differently, fat cells change, and women may gain weight more easily.

Menopause may be triggered by a hysterectomy or surgical removal of the ovaries, which produce hormones. If you have surgery to remove your ovaries or uterus and are not taking hormones, you will experience the symptoms of menopause immediately.

This time in a woman’s life is often full of other transitionsnot just physical ones. Women may be caring for aging parents or relatives, supporting their children as they move into adulthood, or taking on new responsibilities at work.

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Keep Your Hormones Balanced And Your Heart Healthy With These 5 Tips

My primary goal is to help women realize that so much of their health is within their control. Even when you exhibit risk factors you dont have any control over a family history of heart disease, or the natural process of aging there are plenty of choices that can make to reduce that risk. The following 5 tips can help keep hormone levels balanced and your heart healthy and strong.

1. Quit Smoking

Smoking cigarettes is a major cause of cardiovascular disease. The number of cigarettes you smoke per day, and the number of years you smoke, have a direct impact on your risk of developing heart disease. If you are a smoker, the best thing you can do to protect your heart is to quit. Just one year after quitting, risk of heart attack drops significantly even if youve already had a heart attack. And five years after quitting, risk of stroke drops to that of someone who has never smoked. So its not too late!

Smoking has also been shown to disrupt endocrine function, which suggests that quitting will help you keep your hormone levels balanced as well.

2. Stay Active

3. Practice Moderation

A glass of red wine can have a beneficial impact on heart health, but several will do more harm than good. Too much alcohol can raise triglycerides in your blood, lead to high blood pressure, make weight management more difficult, and lead to other serious problems. Limiting consumption to one drink per day is best.

4. Reduce Stress

5. Tune in to Emotions

Resources:

What Are The Symptoms Of Perimenopause

Menopause Myths Busted

There are many different symptoms that a woman may experience during this phase. These include:

  • Headaches

  • Increase in LDL

  • Loss of bone mass

  • Reducing fertility

For some women, these symptoms are things they can handle on their own. But it’s also common for women to experience changes that interfere with their normal life activities and experiences. If your symptoms are getting in the way of your life, there are treatment options that can help. And even if you can “handle” the symptoms on your own, there may be treatment options that help make them easier for you. You don’t need to suffer silently.

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Hormone Levels Fluctuate Leading To Menopause

As you approach menopause, the production of female hormones by the ovaries starts to slow down. Hormone levels tend to fluctuate, and you may notice changes in your menstrual cycle such as:

  • period cycles may become longer, shorter or totally irregular
  • bleeding may become lighter
  • bleeding may become unpredictable and heavy .

Eventually, your hormone levels will fall to a point where your ovaries stop releasing eggs, your periods stop and menopause is reached.Although fertility after the age of 45 is low, you still need to use contraception to prevent pregnancy. Its recommended to continue contraception until you have had one year without a natural period if youre over 50 years old, or two years without a natural period if youre under 50.

What Is Induced Menopause

Induced menopause is when a woman experiences menopause due to unnatural circumstances such as chemotherapy or surgery removing the ovaries.

When a woman experiences induced menopause, she skips the gradual onset of symptoms that most women are able to experience. This can feel like a lot to handle all at once. Working with a Certified Menopause Practitioner can help you find the best treatment options for your specific situation.

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Am I Doomed To Gain Weight During Menopause

Many women do gain weight by virtue of the combination of aging and hormonal changes. Youll probably have to work extra hard at sustaining a healthy weight. If you eat right and exercise right, youll have a better time of it. Plus, excessive weight gain is linked to heart disease, diabetes, and other issues, so youll want to keep your weight under control anyway just to stay healthy. You may have to cut sugar from your diet to see real improvements during this time. Youll also want to exercise well combine resistance training with yoga, and walking with burst training.

Who Can I Talk To

What every woman should know about menopause

Though theres still stigma and embarrassment around the menopause, its important to know that youre not alone and theres support out there.

Try to be open about your symptoms with your partner, family and friends it can help them to understand what youre going through and could reduce any embarrassment about symptoms.

Sharing experiences with other women going through the same thing could be reassuring. There are many websites, blogs and videos online where women have shared their stories of the menopause.

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The Years Before During And After

Out of Print

Menopause and BeyondCarol V. WrightBlue GuideNew YorkMuseums and Galleries of New York

A selection of the Health Book Club

“Minkin, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Yale, and freelance writer Wright explain the Womens Health Initiative study, which showed that hormone replacement therapy actually increased the risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and breast cancer. By putting these risks in perspective, discussing treatment options for menopausal symptoms, including alternative therapies, and providing current information about womens health concerns and fitness, the authors have created an essential resource.”Library Journal

“This practical, clearly written volume seeks to demystify the experience of menopause. . . . One of the authors’ main goals is to provide knowledge that will help women participate more fully in their own health care. Topics include the physiology of menopause, signs and symptoms, perimenopause and PMS, physical and emotional effects, estrogen replacement therapy, sexuality, surgery, and cancer. The authors also discuss the doctor-patient relationship and lifestyle issues.”Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic

“Minkin’s work is easy to understand. An excellent addition for women’s health and consumer health collections.”Library Journal

“Mary Jane Minkin, M.D.’s particular warmth, compassion, and ‘partnering’ experience create a user-friendly tone to this book.”Menopause News

Library Journal

Benefits Of Working With The Nest Clinic

While you can work with your regular family doctor or gynecologist to treat your perimenopause and menopause symptoms, we offer a few additional benefits at The NEST Clinic.

As mentioned above, we have Brenda Reiter, a NAMS Certified Menopause Practitioner on staff. She is highly qualified and experienced at working with women during this stage of life. As a women’s health Nurse Practitioner, she’s focused solely on the promotion of women’s health and has 20+ years of experience.

In addition to her experience and credentials, as a woman, you may feel more comfortable speaking with another woman about the symptoms you’re experiencing.

Another benefit of working with the team at The NEST Clinic is that you have your team of professionals working together. This makes it easy as your therapy and medication management can be handled under one roof. You will have a team of professionals working together to help you feel your best.

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Where To Get Help For Perimenopause And Menopause Symptoms

While menopause is a natural part of life for many women, it continues to be one that isn’t often discussed. Even in groups of women, conversations about perimenopause and menopause rarely happen.

Many women have a lack of information and understanding about menopause. That can lead to confusion when premenopausal symptoms begin to show. It’s common for women to talk to their gynecologist about their symptoms, but the help they receive doesn’t always do the trick. And when that happens, many women just resign themselves to suffering through or trying to find the answers to their questions online.

Another option for treatment is to work with a Certified Menopause Practitioner.

Alternative And Complementary Menopause Treatments

Things about Menopause that Every Woman Should Know

Some studies have found that soy products relieve hot flashes, but researchers are still looking into it. There arenât many large studies on whether other supplements such as black cohosh or âbioidenticalâ hormones work for menopause symptoms. Talk to your doctor before starting any herbal or dietary supplements.

Yoga, tai chi, and acupuncture are safer ways to manage menopause symptoms.

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Are There Treatment Options For Menopause

Now that you know the basics about menopause, you might be wondering if there is anything you can do once you inevitably go through it. The answer is definitely yes, there are treatment options for menopause. Speak to your doctor about which treatment is right for you. You may discuss the following options:

  • Hormone therapy is the most effective treatment for menopausal symptoms. Estrogen therapy is extremely effective for hot flash relief and bone loss prevention. If you still have your uterus, progestin should also be given. Hormone therapy has been shown to be very beneficial, with the benefits significantly outweighing the risks. Using hormone therapy after menopause decreases the risk of osteoporosis, colon cancer, heart attack and stroke, and possibly even Alzheimers disease.
  • Probably the most common form of hormone therapy is with the use of an estradiol patch, but estrogen can also be given as a tablet, cream or gel. Progesterone is also necessary in many cases and is given in the form of a capsule.
  • Hormone pellet therapy is a more convenient option to explore. Using bioidentical hormones, this type of therapy is long-lasting and customizable. Treatment is required every 3-4 months. Pellets are very popular outside the United States.
  • Antidepressants administered in low doses can decrease hot flashes and are also useful for women who are unable to take estrogen. Obviously, this is also a good option for women with depression or other mood disorders.
  • Does Hormone Replacement Therapy Reduce Risk Of Heart Disease In Postmenopausal Women

    There was a time when hormone replacement therapy was considered standard care for women even if they werent exhibiting they usual menopausal symptoms. This came, in part, from the idea that HRT could protect your heart from disease after menopause. But the Womens Health Initiative indicated that the risks of HRT often outweighed the benefits of HRT, and physicians stopped prescribing it as a matter of course.

    A 2011 analysis of results from multiple studies showed that postmenopausal hormone therapy does not reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, and the authors concluded it should not be used as a prevention method. This analysis also showed that stroke and venous thromboembolism rate increase in women who use hormones after menopause, so screening for stroke risk factors is important.

    The good news is that even though HRT may not be the best course of action for many women, there are many natural remedies and lifestyle changes that can reduce uncomfortable symptoms that occur before, during, and after menopause. However, more and more research is now coming out looking at HRT with bio- identical hormones and now the tide is again turning showing that HRT may indeed have some benefit if started at menopause for some.

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    What Happens And How Does It Feel

    For some women this loss of reproductive ability may be deeply felt, and for all women the menopause is a personal experience, not just a medical condition. However, the diminishing release of oestrogen from the ovary as women advance into their 40s is often the cause of symptoms which can be distressing and may need medical attention.

    Hot flushes are the most common symptom of the menopause, occurring in three in every four menopausal women. Other common symptoms include night sweats, sleeplessness, vaginal dryness, irritated skin, more frequent urinary incontinence and urinary tract infections, low mood and a reduced interest in sex. Symptoms vary hugely in duration, severity and what impact they have on women.

    All the common symptoms of the menopause are associated with a decrease in the bodys production of oestrogen. Oestrogen lack can affect many parts of the body, including the brain, causing changes in emotional well-being, and the skin, influencing its elasticity and thickness.

    There is also some evidence that oestrogen deficiency is the cause of some chemical changes in the body which make women after the menopause especially vulnerable to heart disease and stroke.

    Treatments For Menopausal Symptoms

    What Every Woman Should Know About Perimenopause & Menopause with Dr. Shelly Burns

    Your GP can offer treatments and suggest lifestyle changes if you have severe menopausal symptoms that interfere with your day-to-day life.

    These include:

    Your GP may refer you to a menopause specialist if your symptoms do not improve after trying treatment or if you’re unable to take HRT.

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    Symptoms Related To Reduced Hormone Levels

    As mentioned earlier, your ovary function will decline as you approach menopause. This means that there will be less production of estrogen in your body. At this time, you might experience hot flashes during the day and at night. Besides, you can experience joint and muscle pain and mood swings. However, it may be difficult to differentiate if the symptoms result from hormonal changes, the aging process itself, or life circumstances.

    What Every Woman Should Know About Menopause And Diabetes

    When people say you’re sweet, it’s usually meant as a compliment. But when your blood is too sweet or your blood sugar is too high, it’s a warning sign for prediabetes or diabetes.

    And unless you act quickly, your body won’t like it.

    According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2012, 29.1 million Americans had diabetes, and more than half were women. And of the more than 29 million with diabetes, 21 million were undiagnosed.

    It’s not surprising that many women in perimenopause and menopause don’t realize they have diabetes the symptoms can be confused with symptoms of menopause. Frequent urination, night sweats, anxiety, mood swings, foggy thinking, dry itchy skin, and vaginal infections are common to both.

    It’s important to know if you have prediabetes or diabetes because diabetes is one of the most silently dangerous diseases we face. It’s the No. 6 killer of women ages 45 to 54 and the No. 4 killer of women ages 55 to 65.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 10 U.S. adults has diabetes now, and if current trends continue, that figure could rise to 1 in 3 by 2050.

    Why is diabetes so dangerous? Chronically high blood sugars silently damage blood vessels and nerves, and that can lead to:

    • Heart disease
    • Nerve damage that leads to tingling and pain in feet and hands
    • Kidney disease
    • Feet infections and in some severe cases, amputation
    • Bone and joint problems
    • Skin infections and wounds that don’t heal
    • Teeth and gum infections

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