No one ever talks positive about menopause. This change of life evokes tales of sweltering hot flashes and emotional mood swings. Alas, we went to the professionals to learn more.
Do I manage my Menopause or does it manage me?
Allowing your menopause to manage you simply means letting it take control! Whether it is surgical menopause, or that long-awaited time when “life as you know it” changes, you have the power to be in control. Having a positive mind-set is critical as another journey in your life is beginning. Know your body and hold it in high esteem. This means eating to live, drinking plenty of water daily, and exercising to your strength level.
Seeking the council of your gynecologist is crucial to managing your menopause. But be honest and complete as your physician is not a mind reader.
Seeking other modalities can also help manage and relieve symptoms. Consider the following: monthly massage; hypnotherapy for coolness and general relaxation; acupuncture; chiropractic care; Yoga; and meditation. Each of these practices can assist in finding a healthy balance as you age.
Deborah Riner, C.Ht., is owner of Coastal Hypnosis Center, located at 1608 Reynolds St. in downtown Brunswick. 912-261-8906; www.coastalclinicalhypnosiscenter.com
How can HRT (hormone replacement therapy)
help with menopausal symptoms?
Menopausal symptoms are a direct result of fluctuations of several hormones in our body. Mostly associated with “night sweats” or “restless sleep,” Menopause manifests itself individually with every woman having her own set of issues associated with this life transition. It is, however, best to remember that it is a transition. With this in mind, working with a caring, cautious practitioner team to help navigate this change is crucial. Correct hormone therapy involves balancing our body’s reactions to these fluctuations, which, in turn, reduces symptoms and helps us maintain stability in our already busy lives.
Chris May is Registered Pharmacist and Owner of Seaside Pharmaceuticals, Inc., open five days a week at 1104 Fountain Park Circle in Brunswick. 912.554.8220 or www.seasiderx.com.
Menopause or Perimenopause: How do you know?
Perimenopause: Menstrual cycles become less and less regular. Often, the symptom burden is greatest during peri-menopause, which can last for several years.
Menopause: The absence of a menstrual cycle for 12 months. The average age of onset is 52. The hot flashes and mood changes will improve, but the vaginal discomfort in some may continue since the ovaries are no longer making estrogen.
Is there a genetic/heredity connection to the symptoms? Is my menopause going to look like my mom’s?
Genetics do play a role in determining when you will begin menopause, so you will probably experience it around the time your mother did. However, the symptoms and course of menopause is affected by your environment and health behaviors.
What are menopausal symptoms?
Are some avoidable?
Classic symptoms of menopause include:
• Absent menstrual cycles
• Hot flashes and night sweats
• Vaginal dryness and discomfort
• Mood changes
• Sleep disturbances
• Urinary Issues
Many of these symptoms are treatable. Some therapies that have been proven effective in reducing the severity of menopausal symptoms include:
• Hormone Replacement Therapy for patients who fit criteria
• Birth control to lessen your body’s symptomatic response to menopause
• Lubricants or vaginal estrogen for vaginal dryness/discomfort
• Certain anti-depressants can be used for hot flashes
• Proper nutrition and exercise diminish many of the symptoms of menopause
Can you get pregnant during Perimenopause?
Yes! It is possible to become pregnant in the perimenopausal period. As you get older, your ovaries become less responsive to hormonal signals, needing increased stimulation to mature and ovulate one egg. Some months you may ovulate and experience menses, while other months you may not. Times when your ovaries receive a lot of stimulation to ovulate, multiple eggs can develop. So, not only can you still get pregnant during perimenopause, but your risk for having twins increases.
How does birth control affect menopause?
When a female is born, she has all the eggs she’ll ever have. Once menses begins, 20 eggs are lost per month. As a female gets older and starts to run out of eggs, her ovaries demand more and more hormonal stimulation for successful ovulation in preparation for fertilization by a sperm. Since aged ovaries require greater hormonal signals, the hormonal highs and lows are much more intense. This pattern helps describe the classic pattern of symptoms seen in peri-menopause/menopause. Birth control provides stability during a hormonally chaotic time, and prevents the body from recognizing and reacting to failing ovaries. This can reduce the severity of symptoms associated with menopause.
Age onset: Why do some experience menopause in their late 30s and others in their late 50s? Does when you start correlate as to when you end?
Primarily, the age of onset of menopause is affected by genetics. Every woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have, so, the number of eggs you start off with directly affects when you will run out of eggs, signaling the beginning of menopause.
However, other factors help explain why some women experience menopause early, or late, as well.
Factors Associated with Early-onset Menopause:
• History of chemotherapy
• History of surgery
• Undernourishment, which leads to low body weight
• Autoimmune diseases
Associated with late-onset menopause:
• No tobacco use
Women who experience later-onset menopause are at lower risk for cardiovascular events and osteoporosis, but they are at higher risk for breast and endometrial cancer. Women who undergo late menopause will have more estrogen circulating in their bodies for a longer period of time. So, if you are susceptible to cancer, the increased estrogen load can act like fuel for cancer cells. However, it is important to note that increased estrogen does not trigger or create cancer.
Early-onset menopauses risks are flipped: increased risk for cardiovascular events and osteoporosis, with lower risks for breast and endometrial cancer.
Overall, some studies have shown a slight decrease in mortality in women who undergo later-onset menopause.
Darrin A. Strickland, M.D. is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist with Southeast Georgia Physician Associates-Obstetrics & Gynecology, a strategic affiliate of Southeast Georgia Health System.