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Detection of Menopause – hormone levels and Blood Test Explanation

Menopause is one of the most feared for the life of most women, and something that most women start worrying about what was about forty. During the early forties, some women begin to become preoccupied to look for early signs and symptoms of menopause that cause hormonal changes, as more and more on what they perceive as the end of his life as a woman in full operation .

Much of this concern is a result of misinformation, so it is even more critical that every woman understand the methods used to detect the menopause, including hormone levels and blood's role in this process.

If you think you may be experiencing the first symptoms of menopause, one way to know for sure is that your doctor test your hormone levels. When you approach menopause, your glands produce less progesterone, and to begin the process of closing its reproductive capacity. A good method to measure levels of the hormone means to determine if an abnormally large amount of estrogen that occur.

When progesterone is not present in sufficient quantity to counteract the effects of estrogen, unexplained weight gain, insomnia, mood changes and may, along with other symptoms. Your physician may use measurements of the levels of hormones for menopause not only detection but also eliminating the possibility of other diseases.

The best way is to detect the menopause by measuring hormone levels with blood tests. Many times, changes in the menstrual cycle can cause confusion and fear in women during the years before the onset of menopause. Hormone levels measured with a blood test becomes very important for early detection of a number of issues hormonal imbalances, and deficiencies can be corrected with various forms of hormone replacement. Early signs and symptoms of menopause can often be minimized with these replacement therapies.

The detection process of menopause by measuring hormone levels with a blood test is relatively simple and is also one of the less invasive techniques you can use. The real benefits can be seen in the early detection of menopause and other conditions, and reducing the need for painkillers and other medications when menopause is aggressively treated since its inception.viagra online Many women are using these medicines to treat a very real pain that can cause discomfort of menopausal symptoms. Principles of hormone replacement techniques can help prevent such complications.

For years, it has been commonly assumed that women should just accept the signs and symptoms of menopause, suffer in silence and wait for change to happen. By detecting it earlier than ever before through the measurements of hormone levels with blood tests, doctors can now more aggressively treat symptoms and provide better quality of life for their female patients, even during stress of menopause.

Menopause Treatment

menopause treatments, acupuncture for menopause

Treatments and alternative treatments for menopause symptoms

Treatment with hormones may be helpful if you have severe symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood issues, or vaginal dryness.

Discuss the decision to take hormones thoroughly with your doctor, weighing your risks against any possible benefits. Pay careful attention to the many options currently available to you that do not involve taking hormones. Every woman is different. Your doctor should be aware of your entire medical history when considering prescribing hormone therapy.

If you have a uterus and decide to take estrogen, you must also take progesterone to prevent endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus). If you do not have a uterus, progesterone is not necessary.

HORMONE THERAPY

Several major studies have questioned the health benefits and risks of hormone replacement therapy, including the risk of developing breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots.

Current guidelines support the use of HT for the treatment of hot flashes. Specific recommendations:

  • T may be started in women who have recently entered menopause.
  • HRT should not be used in women who started menopause many years ago.
  • The medicine should not be used for longer than 5 years.
  • Women taking HT should have a baseline low risk for stroke, heart disease, blood clots, or breast cancer.

To reduce the risks of estrogen therapy and still gain the benefits of the treatment, your doctor may recommend:

  • Using estrogen or progesterone regimens that do not contain the form of progesterone used in the study
  • Using a lower dose of estrogen or a different estrogen preparation (for instance, a vaginal cream rather than a pill)
  • Having frequent and regular pelvic exams and Pap smears to detect problems as early as possible
  • Having frequent and regular physical exams, including breast exams and mammograms

See also: Hormone therapy for more information about taking hormone therapy.

ALTERNATIVES TO HT

There are some medications available to help with mood swings, hot flashes, and other symptoms. These include low doses of antidepressants such as paroxetine (Paxil), venlafaxine (Effexor), bupropion (Wellbutrin), and fluoxetine (Prozac), or clonidine, which is normally used to control high blood pressure. Gabapentin is also effective for reducing hot flashes.

LIFESTYLE CHANGES

The good news is that you can take many steps to reduce your menopause symptoms without taking hormones:

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods
  • Dress lightly and in layers
  • Eat soy foods
  • Get adequate calcium and vitamin D in food and/or supplements
  • Get plenty of exercise
  • Perform Kegel exercises daily to strengthen the muscles of your vagina and pelvis
  • Practice slow, deep breathing whenever a hot flash starts to come on (try taking six breaths per minute)
  • Remain sexually active
  • See an acupuncture specialist
  • Try relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi, or meditation
  • Use water-based lubricants during sexual intercourse

Can You Really Tighten Your Vagina

vaginabible1It is really easy for women to tighten their vagina. All that’s required is a bit of information about the vaginal anatomy and some time for doing the exercise. Kegel exercise are really easy to perform and can be performed at distinct places and whenever you find time. The only thing that is required with them is a dedication and nothing else. Once you start practicing them daily I am sure the results are guaranteed and your vagina will surely become tight. It must be brought to the notice of women that your vagina not only becomes tighter but also becomes stronger with the help of these exercises.

What the Kegel exercises actually do is target the PC muscles which form the floor of vagina. Keeping the Kegels in control are really essential and only if the Kegels are in control they can be said to be strong. Having strong Kegel muscles can make your sex life really awesome. If you have control over the Kegels than you can provide a lot of pleasure to your partner and make him squirm. Also it will give you multiple orgasms by which all your desires will be fulfilled.

It is always necessary to start with the Kegel exercises at an earlier stage of life because the muscles are fresh then. Once menopause is achieved the muscles become really weak and then it becomes difficult to gain control over them, if you gain control over them at an earlier stage of life that would be better. People care a lot about their external looks but nowadays they also focus on their internal looks and Kegel exercises provides one such mean which develops and improves our body internally. The effect of these exercises will not be seen in an overnight but it takes normally 2 months to see some effect.

Some benefits of Kegel exercises are -

• Help achieve multiple orgasm

• Helps in strengthening of your muscles

• Gaining control over them

• Helps to avoid continence

• An enjoyable sex life

• Enhances your inner beauty and makes you confident

• Makes you feel young

• Helps in child birth and regain strength of your muscles after the birth of your child.

There are various gadgets available in the market which can help you perform the Kegel exercises in a much better way. Also make sure you breathe properly while practicing Kegel exercises. If your stomach, leg or buttock moves along with the exercise then you should recognize that you are proceeding in the wrong direction and performing the exercise in a wrong way.

Find out more in the Vagina Bible!

What is Menopause – Help?

We all know what menopause is, but do we? We also all know that it does not seem to effect any two women in exactly the same way. Some women sail thought no real noticeable symptoms, yet others suffer with hot flashes, mood swings, and a host of other physical issues. The real secret to menopause relief seems to the acceptance of the changes that are happening, persistence and flexibility in finding treatments that work for you and a good sense of humor.

As I type this I realize that I might have death threats being put out against me. I am in no way downplaying the real emotional and physical toll that menopause takes on many. In fact I am saying that this is such a big issue for many with no real sure fire, 100% solutions that you need to respect that you are against a very formidable issue, so you are best served by strategies that are long term and aimed at preserving your health, relationships and your sanity.

The bottom line is time keeps marching on and every perky girl who ever graced the silver screen or the pages of magazines has either gone thought it or will be going thought it. Thousands before us have gone through it. It is inevitable, but out response to it is not. Our bodies might give us hot flashes, but we decide if they make us ashamed and upset that time is catching up to us or if they are a chance to laugh. You need to decide if you call it a hot flash or is it a power surge.

Acceptance is important, because it will happen no matter what, but finding solutions is very important. Talk to other woman in your family and find out what helped them with menopause. Talk to trusted girlfriends and coworkers. Research on the internet and make some simple changes, like adding soy products for the estrogen like properties in soybeans. In countries with high soybean consumption woman do not experience the same levels menopause symptoms that we have in western cultures.

Talk to your physician. Your health care providers are there for a reason. Don’t be ashamed to tell them what your problems are. They can offer treatments, alternatives, and ideas. All they do all day hear what is working and not working for people in treating this and many other conditions. Relief might be as simple as a little estrogen cream applied once a day in your case or drinking black cohosh tea. Menopause help will not come find you, so be your own advocate and find something that works for you.

Why do women gain weight at menopause?

If you have started going through menopause you've probably noticed a few extra kilos around your midsection area. Do not worry, you're not alone, one of the major symptoms of menopause seem to be to obtain weight and a general change in the shape of your body. And while it may not be happy about this unfortunate incident, only to be taken into account that women in menopause weight gain, and is a very common. Studies have shown that approximately 90% of women begin to gain weight between the ages of 35 and 55. Never fear, you can not be responsible for this weight gain, studies have shown that most women in menopause weight gain due to a change in hormone levels, not overeating.

The average woman has been to gain about 10 to 15 pounds during the menopausal years. However, the most likely weight is gained gradually through their pre-menopausal years, you can expect your package around an extra pound a year. The weight gain that occurs with menopause is likely that around your abdominal area instead of the most common areas, such as the hips, thighs and buttocks. During menopause it is harder and harder for your body to redistribute the weight evenly.

What factors lead to women in menopause to weight gain?

The cause of weight gain menopause is the change in the maintenance of their body weight levels of the hormone.

1. Estrogen: Estrogen is a female hormone that makes a woman ovulates each month. However, during menopause, this hormone decreases dramatically because of their body to stop ovulation. This decrease in estrogen seems to be an important factor in weight gain of menopause. Because the ovaries produce less estrogen, your body begins to look elsewhere to get their desired estrogen. The problem here is that fat cells have been known to produce estrogen, so your body will start to convert their calories in fat to increase estrogen levels. This is obviously a major reason why women in menopause weight gain.

2. Progesterone: This is the hormone that regulates water weight we carry in our bodies. During menopause, this hormone has been shown to decrease rapidly, as does estrogen, which makes women hold more water as they grow, thus adding a bit of pounds to the stack menopause weight gain.

3. Testosterone: Testosterone is the hormone that facilitates the creation of lean muscle mass of the calories we consume. And, it's a proven fact that muscle burns more calories than fat, increasing metabolism. During menopause, hormone levels low testosterone, causing muscle loss, which unfortunately results in a lower metabolism and gain more weight.

4. Androgen: This is the hormone that is responsible for sending the newly formed fat in your midsection. In fact, the period for weight gain during menopause is commonly referred to as "middle-aged spread," due to rapid weight gain in the abdominal area. In fact, one of the number one sign of menopause is the increased production of testosterone resulting in increased belly fat.

The silver lining:

Although I know it can be difficult to accept that women in menopause weight gain is important to know the benefits of this event, apparently unfortunate. You have to know that this weight gain is natural and can actually be a good thing. This small amount of extra weight you can put really the lesson of the symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and anxiety. Furthermore, weight gain during menopause is regulated by your body, and help prevent osteoporosis and other common diseases associated with aging.

Menopausal Hormone Therapy

menopause28Hormones and Menopause

Waking up flushed and sweaty several times a night left Cathy feeling tired all day. But when she began to feel hot on and off during the day as well, she went to see Dr. Kent. He told Cathy she was having hot flashes—a sign that she was starting the menopause transition. Dr. Kent talked about several ways to control her hot flashes. One was to use the hormone estrogen for a short time. He talked about the benefits and risks of this choice. Cathy said she remembered hearing something on a TV talk show about using hormones around menopause. Were they helpful? Were they safe? She didn’t know.

A hormone is a chemical substance made by an organ like the thyroid gland or ovary. Hormones control different body functions. Examples of hormones are estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid hormone.  In a woman’s body during the menopause transition, the months or years right before menopause (her final menstrual period), levels of several hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, go up and down irregularly. This happens as the ovaries work to keep up with the needs of the changing body.

Menopause is a normal part of aging. It is not a disease or disorder that has to be treated in all cases. Women may decide to use hormones like estrogen because of the benefits, but there are also side effects and risks to consider.

Dr. Kent told Cathy to call back for a prescription if she decided to try using hormones to relieve her symptoms. She read pamphlets from the doctor’s office and talked to her friends. Lily, who had surgery to remove her uterus and ovaries, has been taking the hormone estrogen since the operation. Sandy said she’s had a few hot flashes, but isn’t really uncomfortable enough to take hormones. Melissa is bothered by hot flashes and can’t sleep, but her doctor thinks she should not use estrogen because her younger sister has breast cancer. Each friend had a different story. Cathy wanted more information.

Do hormones relieve menopause symptoms?

Symptoms such as hot flashes might result from the changing hormone levels during the menopause transition. After a woman’s last menstrual period, when her ovaries make much less estrogen and progesterone, some symptoms of menopause might disappear, but others may continue.

To help relieve these symptoms, some women use hormones. This is called menopausal hormone therapy (MHT). This approach used to be called hormone replacement therapy or HRT. MHT is a more current, umbrella term that describes several different hormone combinations available in a variety of forms and doses.

How would I use MHT?

Estrogen is a hormone used to relieve the symptoms of menopause. Estrogen alone (E) may be used by a woman whose uterus has been removed.  But a woman who still has a uterus must add progesterone or a progestin (synthetic progesterone) along with the estrogen (E+P).  This combination lowers the chance of an unwanted thickening of the lining of the uterus and reduces the risk of cancer of the uterus, an uncommon, but possible result of using estrogen alone.

Cathy’s friend Stephanie takes a pill containing estrogen and progestin, but Cathy has trouble swallowing pills. If MHT is only available as a pill, that is something she’d consider when making her decision.

Estrogen comes in many forms. Cathy could use a skin patch, vaginal tablet, or cream; take a pill; or get an implant, shot, or vaginal ring insert. She could even apply a gel or spray. There are also different types of estrogen (such as estradiol and conjugated estrogens). Estradiol is the most important type of estrogen in a woman’s body before menopause.  Other hormones, progesterone or progestin, can be taken as a pill, sometimes in the same pill as the estrogen, as well as a patch (combined with estrogen), shot, IUD (intrauterine device), gel, or vaginal suppository.

The form of MHT your doctor suggests may depend on your symptoms. For example, an estrogen patch (also called transdermal estrogen) or pill (oral estrogen) can relieve hot flashes, night sweats (hot flashes that bother you at night), and vaginal dryness. Other forms—vaginal creams, tablets, or rings—are used mostly for vaginal dryness alone. The vaginal ring insert might also help some urinary tract symptoms.

The dose can also vary, as can the timing of those doses. Some doctors suggest that estrogen be used every day, but that the progesterone or progestin be used cyclically—for 10 to 14 straight days every four weeks. A cyclic schedule is thought to mimic how the body makes estrogen and progesterone before menopause. This approach can cause some spotting or bleeding, like a light period, which might get lighter or go away in time. Alternatively, some women take estrogen and progesterone or progestin continuously—every day of the month.

Is there a downside to taking hormones?

A lot of the information Cathy read said that taking estrogen is the most effective way to relieve hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. Estrogen also helps keep bones strong. Cathy thought that those seemed like good reasons to use MHT. But she wondered, is there a downside?

Research has found that, for some women, there are serious risks, including an increased chance of heart disease, stroke, blood clots, and breast cancer, when using MHT. There may also be an increased risk of dementia in women when they start MHT after age 65. These concerns are why every woman needs to think a lot before deciding to use menopausal hormone therapy.

Also, some women develop noticeable side effects from using hormones:

  • breast tenderness
  • spotting or a return of monthly periods
  • cramping
  • bloating

By changing the type or amount of the hormones, the way they are taken, or the timing of the doses, your doctor may be able to help control these side effects. Or, over time, they may go away on their own.

What more should I know about the benefits and risks of hormones?

Cathy knows there have been news stories about menopausal hormone therapy research findings. But, several years ago, when she first heard about the risks of using estrogen, she didn’t really pay attention. Now she wants to know more about the risks.

Over the years, research findings have led to a variety of positive, negative, and sometimes conflicting reports about menopausal hormone therapy. Some of these findings came from randomized clinical trials, the most convincing type of research. Historically, clinical trials often used one type of estrogen called conjugated estrogens.  Several other types of estrogen, as well as progesterone and progestins, have also been tested in small trials to see if they have an effect on heart disease, breast cancer, or dementia.

Let’s look more closely at what we have learned from these small studies.

Hot flashes and night sweats—Estrogen will relieve most women’s hot flashes and night sweats. If you stop using estrogen, you may again start having hot flashes. Lifestyle changes and certain prescription medicines also might help some women with hot flashes. For most women, hot flashes and night sweats go away in time.

Vaginal dryness—Estrogen improves vaginal dryness, probably for as long as you continue to use it. If vaginal dryness is your only symptom, your doctor might prescribe a vaginal estrogen. A water-based lubricant, but not petroleum jelly, may also relieve vaginal discomfort.

Cholesterol levels—Estrogen improves cholesterol levels, lowering LDLs (the “bad” kind of cholesterol) and raising HDLs (the “good” kind of cholesterol). The pill form of estrogen can cause the level of triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood) to go up. The estrogen patch does not seem to have this effect, but it also does not improve cholesterol to the same degree as the pill form. But, improving cholesterol levels is not a reason to take estrogen. Other medicines and lifestyle changes will improve cholesterol levels more effectively.

What is the Women’s Health Initiative? What have we learned from it?

Before menopause, women generally have a lower risk of heart disease than men. This led experts to wonder whether giving women estrogen after menopause might help prevent heart disease. In 1992, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s premier medical research agency, began the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) to explore ways postmenopausal women might prevent heart disease, as well as osteoporosis and cancer. One part of the WHI, the Hormone Trial, looked at oral conjugated estrogens used alone (E) or with a particular progestin (E+P) to see if, in postmenopausal women, estrogen could prevent heart disease without increasing the chance of breast cancer.

In July 2002, the E+P part of the WHI Hormone Trial was stopped early because it became clear to the researchers that the overall risk of taking E+P outweighed the benefits:

Benefits

  • Fewer fractures
  • Less chance of colon and rectum cancer

Risks

  • More strokes
  • More serious blood clots
  • More heart attacks
  • More breast cancers

In April 2004, the rest of the Hormone Trial, the E alone group, was also halted because using estrogen alone did not have a positive effect on heart disease overall and increased the risk of stroke.

During the first 3 years after stopping the E+P used in the WHI, women were no longer at greater risk of heart disease, stroke, or serious blood clots than women who had not used MHT. On the other hand, they also no longer had greater protection from fractures. The women still had an increased risk of breast cancer, but their risk was smaller than it was while they were using hormones.

It appears from the WHI that women over age 60 should not begin using MHT to protect their health—it will not prevent heart disease or dementia when started several years after menopause. In fact, older women in the study using MHT were at increased risk of certain diseases. On the other hand, women who were less than age 60 did not appear to be at increased risk of heart disease, and the overall risks and benefits appeared to be balanced.

It is important to remember that the WHI findings are based on the specific oral form (rather than patch, gel, etc), dose, and type of estrogen and progestin studied in the WHI. Which hormones and dose you use and the way you take them might change these benefits and risks. We don’t know how the WHI findings apply to these other types, forms, and doses of estrogen and progesterone or progestin.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now recommends that women with moderate to severe menopausal symptoms who want to try menopausal hormone therapy for relief use it for the shortest time needed and at the lowest effective dose.

What are some other options?

Cathy is like a lot of women bothered by symptoms of menopause. After learning about some research results, she is concerned about using menopausal hormone therapy for relief of her symptoms. But it’s been several years since some study findings raised concerns, and now Cathy is wondering whether there is anything new.

Women now have more options than when the WHI study was first planned. More types of estrogens are available, and some of them come in a variety of forms. For example, synthetic estradiol, now available in several forms (pill, patch, cream, gel, etc.), is chemically identical to the estrogen most active in women’s bodies before menopause. If it is not taken by mouth, but rather applied to the skin or taken as a shot, estradiol appears to work the same way as estradiol made in the body. Investigators are now studying a low-dose estradiol patch (transdermal estradiol) compared to a low-dose conjugated estrogens pill to see whether one or both slow hardening of the arteries in women around the age of menopause and whether the estradiol patch is as effective and, perhaps, safer than the conjugated estrogens pill. These alternatives are creating more choices for women seeking relief from their menopausal symptoms, as well as a variety of new opportunities for research.

Besides a pill, some estrogens come in different and sometimes new forms—skin patch, gel, emulsion, spray, and vaginal ring, cream, and tablet. These forms work in the body somewhat differently than a pill by entering your body directly through the skin or walls of the vagina. Oral estrogen (a pill) is chemically changed in the liver.  Some studies suggest that if estrogen enters through the skin and bypasses the liver, the risk of serious blood clots or stroke might be lower. Others suggest a lower risk of gallbladder disease. This may also allow a change in dosage—further testing may show that the same benefits might come from lower doses than are needed with a pill.

Menopausal Hormone Treatment and Natural Hormone Treatment

menopause19What questions remain unanswered?

Cathy was beginning to understand more about the benefits and risks of using hormones, but she wondered whether there are still questions about the WHI results and menopausal hormone therapy in general. What else needs to be looked at?

Experts now know more about menopause and have a better understanding of what the WHI results mean. But, they have new questions also.

  • The average age of women participating in the trial was 63, more than 10 years older than the average age of menopause, and the WHI was looking at reducing the risk of chronic diseases of growing older like heart disease and osteoporosis. Do the WHI results apply to younger women choosing MHT to relieve symptoms around the time of menopause or to women who have early surgical menopause (surgery to remove both ovaries or the uterus)?
  • Other studies show that lower doses of estrogen than were studied in the WHI provide relief from symptoms of menopause for some women and still help women maintain bone density. What are the long-term benefits and risks of lower doses of estrogen?
  • In the WHI, women using E alone did not seem to have a greater risk of heart disease than women not using hormones. Does this mean that the risk of heart disease in healthy women in their 50s who can use estrogen alone might not be higher than the risk in women who don’t use estrogen?
  • Would using progesterone or a different progestin than the one used in the WHI be less risky to a woman’s heart?
  • The combination menopausal hormone therapy used in the WHI makes it somewhat more likely that a woman could develop breast cancer, especially with long-term use. Is using a different type of estrogen, a smaller dose of estrogen or progesterone, or a different progestin (instead of medroxyprogesterone acetate) safer?
  • Does using estrogen around the time of menopause change the risk of possible dementia in later life as starting it after age 65 did in the WHI Memory Study (WHIMS)?

The National Institute on Aging and other parts of the National Institutes of Health, along with other medical research centers, continue to explore questions such as these. They hope that in the future these studies will give women additional facts needed to make informed decisions about relieving menopausal symptoms.

What are “natural hormones”?

Cathy’s friend Susan thinks she is not at risk for serious side effects from menopausal hormone therapy because she uses “natural hormones” to treat her hot flashes and night sweats. Cathy asked Dr. Kent about them. He told her that there is very little reliable scientific information from high-quality clinical trials about the safety of “natural” or compounded hormones, how well they control the symptoms of menopause, and whether they are as good or better to use than FDA-approved estrogens, progesterone, and progestins.

The “natural hormones” Susan uses are estrogen and progesterone made from plants such as soy or yams. Some people also call them bioidentical hormones because they are supposed to be chemically the same as the hormones naturally made by a woman’s body. These so-called natural hormones are put together (compounded) by a compounding pharmacist. This pharmacist follows a formula decided on by a doctor familiar with this approach. Compounded hormones are not regulated or approved by the FDA. So, we don’t know much about how safe or effective they are or how the quality varies from batch to batch.

Drug companies also make estrogens and progesterone from plants like soy and yams. Some of these are also chemically identical to the hormones made by your body. These other forms of MHT are available by prescription.  Importantly, hormones made by drug companies are regulated and approved by the FDA.

There are also “natural” treatments for the symptoms of menopause that are available over-the-counter, without a prescription. Black cohosh is one that women use, but a couple of clinical trials have shown that it did not relieve hot flashes in postmenopausal women or those approaching menopause.  Because of rare reports of serious liver disease, scientists are concerned about the possible effects of black cohosh on the liver. Other “natural” treatments are made from soy or yams. None of these are regulated or approved by the FDA.

What’s right for me?

There is no single answer for all women who are trying to decide whether to use menopausal hormone therapy (MHT). You have to look at your own needs and weigh your own risks.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself and talk to your doctor about:

  • Do menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes or vaginal dryness bother me a lot? Like many women, your hot flashes or night sweats will likely go away over time, but vaginal dryness may not. MHT can help with troubling symptoms.
  • Am I at risk for developing osteoporosis? Estrogen might protect bone mass while you use it. However, there are other drugs that can protect your bones without MHT’s risks. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of those medicines for you.
  • Do I have a history of heart disease or risk factors such as high blood cholesterol? Using estrogen and progestin can increase your risk.
  • Do I have a family history of breast cancer? If you have a family history of breast cancer, check with your doctor about your risk.
  • I have high levels of triglycerides and a family history of gallbladder disease. Can I use MHT? The safety of any kind of MHT in women with high levels of triglycerides or a family history of gallbladder disease is not known. But some experts think that using a patch will not raise your triglyceride level or increase your chance of gallbladder problems. Using an oral estrogen pill might.
  • Do I have liver disease or a history of stroke or blood clots in my veins? MHT, especially taken by mouth, might not be safe for you to use.

In all cases, talk to your doctor about how best to treat or prevent your menopause symptoms or diseases for which you are at risk.

If you are already using menopausal hormone therapy and think you would like to stop, first ask your doctor how to do that. Some doctors suggest tapering off slowly.

Whatever decision you make now about using MHT is not final. You can start or end the treatment at any time, although, as we learned from the WHI, it appears that it is best not to start MHT many years after menopause. If you stop, some of your risks will lessen over time, but so will the benefits. Discuss your decision about menopausal hormone therapy with your doctor at your annual checkup.

MHT is not one size fits all

Cathy realized that talking to her friends about what each is doing to relieve menopause symptoms was helpful, but that her decision needed to be just for her. And she was sure that basing her decision just on what she heard on a TV show might not be the best way to choose. She tried to find sources of information that seemed to be unbiased and didn’t have a product to promote. She felt most comfortable with science-based websites like the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or doctors’ professional groups.

Each woman is different, and the decision for each one about menopausal hormone therapy will probably also be different. But, almost every research study helps give women and their doctors more information to answer the question: Is menopausal hormone therapy right for me?

For More Information

Other resources on menopausal hormone therapy include:

National Institutes of Health
Menopausal Hormone Therapy Information
www.nih.gov/PHTindex.htm

The National Library of Medicine MedlinePlus www.medlineplus.gov website has information on many health subjects, including menopause. Click on Health Topics. Choose any topic you are interested in, such as menopause, menopausal hormone therapy, or osteoporosis, by clicking on the first letter of the topics and scrolling down the list to find it.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
409 12th Street, SW
P.O. Box 96920
Washington, DC 20090-6920
1-202-638-5577
www.acog.org

Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002
1-888-463-6332 (toll-free)
www.fda.gov

North American Menopause Society
P.O. Box 94527
Cleveland, OH 44101
1-440-442-7550
1-800-774-5342 (toll-free)
www.menopause.org

For more information on health and aging, including menopause, contact:

National Institute on Aging
Information Center
P.O. Box 8057
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057
1-800-222-2225 (toll-free)
1-800-222-4225 (TTY/toll-free)
www.nia.nih.gov
www.nia.nih.gov/Espanol

To order free publications (in English and Spanish) or sign up for email alerts, go to www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation.

Visit NIHSeniorHealth (www.nihseniorhealth.gov), a senior-friendly website from the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine. This website has health information for older adults. Special features make it simple to use. For example, you can click on a button to have the text read out loud or to make the type larger.

What is Perimenopause?

What is Perimenopause

What is Perimenopause

What is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause marks the time when your body begins the transition to menopause. It includes the years leading up to menopause — anywhere from two to eight years — plus the first year after your final period. There is no way to tell in advance how long it will last OR how long it will take you to go through it. It’s a natural part of aging that signals the ending of your reproductive years.

Signs and Symptoms of Perimenopause

Perimenopause causes changes in your body that you may or may not notice. For most women, the discomforts associated with perimenopause are minimal and manageable. Some things you might experience in the perimenopause years include:

* Changes in your menstrual cycle (longer or shorter periods, heavier or lighter periods, or missed periods)
* Hot flashes (sudden rush of heat from your chest to your head)
* Night sweats (hot flashes that happen while you sleep)
* Vaginal dryness
* Sleep problems
* Mood changes (mood swings, sadness, or irritability)
* Pain during sex
* More urinary infections
* Urinary incontinence
* Less interest in sex
* Increase in body fat around your waist
* Problems with concentration and memory

You can’t always tell if physical or emotional changes are related to menopause, the normal aging process, or something else. But by monitoring your menstrual cycle and recording your signs and symptoms for several months, you’ll gain a better understanding of the changes occurring during this time. You will also have valuable information to discuss with your doctor should you have a concern.

Oral contraceptives (birth control pills) are often the treatment of choice to relieve perimenopausal symptoms — even if you don’t need them for birth control. Today’s low-dose pills regulate periods and stop or reduce hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and premenstrual syndrome.

Making lifestyle changes may help ease the discomfort of your symptoms and keep you healthy in the long run.

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Good nutrition. Because your risk of osteoporosis (bone disease) and heart disease increases at this time, a healthy eating plan is more important than ever. Adopt a low-fat, high-fiber eating plan that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Add calcium-rich foods or take a calcium supplement. Limit alcohol or caffeine, which can affect sleep. If you smoke, try to quit.
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Regular exercise. Regular physical activity helps keep your weight down, improves your sleep, strengthens your bones, and elevates your mood. Try to exercise for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week.
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Stress reduction. Practiced regularly, stress reduction techniques such as meditation or yoga can help you relax and tolerate your symptoms more easily. The “Stress and Your Health” FAQ can be a good resource as well.

Pregnancy and Perimenopause

If you’re still having periods, even if they are not regular, you can get pregnant. Talk to your doctor about your options for birth control. Keep in mind that some methods of birth control, like birth control pills, shots, implants, or diaphragms will not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.

Sexual Health and Perimenopause

Many aging women enjoy an active sex life. Yet, many women are not aware of their risk of getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. If you have more than one sexual partner or have started a new sexual relationship, talk with your partner about using condoms before having sex. Latex condoms used correctly and every time you have any type of sexual contact offer the best protection against STIs. Dental dams (used for oral sex) and female condoms also can help protect you from some STIs.

Do You Have Depression In Menopause?

depression and menopause

depression and menopause

If you were to ask most women that were going through menopause what it was that stuck out most of their mind it would probably be something along the lines of hot flashes or perhaps headaches. Something that happens with many women, however, is the fact that they may experience depression during menopause, even if they had never experienced it before in their lives. Some women may not make the connection between the fact that they are going through menopause and that they are experiencing depression but in many cases, the two may be quite intertwined just the fact that you are suffering depression in menopause.

If you are experiencing depression in menopause, it is important for you to make sure that you talk to somebody about it in order for them to be aware of the situation. Depression is certainly nothing to play around with and although it is possible for you to reduce the amount of depression that you are experiencing naturally, it is still something that should not be kept to yourself. That being said, here are some things that you can do which will help you to work on the amount of depression that you are feeling and to overcome it in many cases.

One of the main reasons why women have depression in menopause is as a result of the fluctuation of hormones, vitamins and minerals in their bodies. If you’re lacking in vitamins and minerals as a result of menopause, supplementing with them may help you to overcome your depression to a large extent.

Something else that you can do which helped greatly with depression in almost every instance is to exercise regularly. Exercise not only helps to bring the body into a balance, it also releases chemicals into the body which make you feel good about yourself. That is why some people actually get addicted to exercise and once you do it regularly, you will find that you enjoy doing it and the way that it makes you feel.

Another thing to try is to adjust your diet, as this may be at the root of your depression. We may have been able to handle eating a standard American diet before our body began to fluctuate its hormone levels but now, the same diet may be deadly to us. Avoiding processed sugar and any other processed foods is a great start and can help you to improve your overall outlook. Not only that, you often feel and look a lot healthier, which is a great deterrent to depression overall.

Ovarian Cysts during Menopause and What to Do about Them

menopause and ovarian cysts

menopause and ovarian cysts

Something that is of concern to many women who are going through menopause is the possibility of having ovarian cysts during menopause and this time in their life. These cysts can cause additional fluctuations in the hormones that are being produced by the ovaries and can throw you out of balance even further than menopause itself. In order for you to overcome these problems, there are a number of different natural things that you can do.

The first thing that you need to understand is that in many cases, the ovarian cysts that are occurring during menopause are not really going to do all that much damage. As a matter of fact, there are a number of different fibroids that can occur in both inside of the uterus and on the ovaries during menopause that will naturally disappear once menopause is gone. Although it is not really known why they occur, it is thought to be a natural process and it is very rare that these benign tumors are going to need to be removed surgically.

Of course, there are some things that you can do in order to balance the body out and to reduce the number of cysts that you are experiencing naturally. Since it is as result of the body being out of balance and experiencing a reduction in the amount of estrogen and progesterone that the body is producing, often, bringing those levels back up naturally is an excellent way for you to reduce the number of fibroids that you are experiencing. This can be done through homeopathic means and there are plenty of enzyme therapies that are naturally available through your homeopath.

Something else that you may want to do is to adjust your diet so that it is more balanced. The easiest way for you to do this is to add things in your diet, such as raw fruits and vegetables. Instead of changing your diet rapidly, which very rarely works, begin to add things to your diet in order to change it gradually. Exercising regularly can also have a great impact on your overall body balance.

One final thing that you can do is to make sure that you are hydrated properly. Make sure that you are drinking eight to 10 glasses of water every day and taking a little bit of salt with the water. It will help to flush impurities out of your body and to bring it back into a balance that it may be lacking.