Menopause in a Flash: Quick Facts
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Hot flashes, mood swings, erratic periods. Need to know what on earth is happening to your body? And quick? Well don’t sweat it. Here’s menopause in a flash!
Transcript: Hot flashes, mood swings, erratic periods. Need to know what on earth is happening to your body? And...
Hot flashes, mood swings, erratic periods. Need to know what on earth is happening to your body? And quick? Well don't sweat it. Here's what it's all about -- in a flash: What we commonly call menopause actually consists of 3 phases - PREmenopause, PERImenopause, and POSTmenopause. Menopause itself is simply the point in time when 12 months have passed since your last period. This progression is a natural part of life that needs to be managed, but it is NOT a health problem or a disease. During PREmenopause, hormone-related symptoms such as breast tenderness and bloating, are caused by ovulation. PERIMENOPAUSE symptoms such as mood swings, hot flashes, heart palpitations, and sometimes brain fog or confusion, signal that your body is beginning to produce less consistent levels of hormones and ovulation is becoming irregular. MENOPAUSE is the permanent end of reproduction. Your ovaries stop producing eggs, so estrogen and progesterone stop cycling and stay at low levels. Testosterone levels decline gradually over the coming years. 6,000 women, with an average age of 51, reach menopause every day. POSTMENOPAUSAL women often experience vaginal dryness and thinning tissue in the urinary tract can cause pain during intercourse and urinary problems. Topical estrogen can often help. In later years, around 25 percent of women develop osteoporosis and a vast majority have heart problems. In many cases, changes in diet and exercise can MINIMIZE these health challenges. And the North American Menopause Society reports 51 percent of POSTmenopausal women say they are happier and more fulfilled than they have ever been. For more in-depth information on menopause, check out other videos in this series.More »
Last Modified: 2012-10-02 | Tags »
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If you feel like you're alone in the agony of menopause, think again. Take this survey to see how you compare with what other women experience.
Last Modified: 2012-12-12 | Tags »
menopause, menopause symptoms, hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, menopausal
When it comes to managing menopause symptoms, you are what you eat. Your nutritional choices can ease symptoms while giving you that needed extra boost of energy.
Transcript: When it comes to managing midlife symptoms, you are what you eat. Your nutritional choices can go a...
When it comes to managing midlife symptoms, you are what you eat. Your nutritional choices can go a long way to keeping you healthy and full of energy, ESPECIALLY AFTER MENOPAUSE, when it becomes easier to gain weight, and you're more susceptible to vaginal dryness, heart disease, cognitive problems and osteoporosis. To lower cholesterol and triglycerides and protect your heart and digestive tract, make sure you eat plenty of fresh veggies and fruit, lean protein, and about 21 grams of fiber-that's equivalent of 1 cup of black beans and a fresh pear. Also enjoy raw carrots, apple slices, seaweed, and soy-based products such edamame. Eating fish, such as salmon and trout that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, helps lower cholesterol, and there is some indication it may fight off everything from cancer to dementia. Nuts, spices such as basil and oregano, even capers also offer a small dose of omega-3s. To ease memory loss get into blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Their high antioxidant level fights inflammation. You also want to build muscle, resist weight gain and keep your bones strong. So in addition to what I mentioned before, make sure you go light on saturated fats in red meat and on sweets too. For bone strength, you'll need at least 1,200mg of calcium a day -- from low or no fat dairy. And plenty of vitamin D from sunshine, food and supplements. Despite lower official recommendations, many doctors now advise postmenopausal women to take 1000 IU of D in a supplement every day. And while you're upgrading your diet -- consider going easy on coffee, tea, alcohol, colas, refined sugars and spicy foods. These can trigger hot flashes. Salt -- it can raise blood pressure if you are sensitive to it. And stick with one glass of wine a day -- that's a proven heart health booster -- but more increases your risk for everything from breast cancer to obesity. For more information on how to best care for your body before and after menopause, check out other videos in this series.More »
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HRT -- hormone replacement therapy, or simply HT for hormone therapy, as it's now called -- effectively manages menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, mood swings, AND vaginal dryness. Find out how.
Transcript: When searching FOR menopause symptom relief, you've probably considered it all - exercise, diet, natural...
When searching FOR menopause symptom relief, you've probably considered it all - exercise, diet, natural supplements - but what about HRT? HRT -- hormone replacement therapy, or simply HT for hormone therapy, as it is now called -- effectively manages menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, mood swings, AND vaginal dryness. These symptoms develop because of a decline in estrogen during the 2 to 8 years leading up to menopause. HT is also prescribed for women who go through menopause before the age of 40 or have induced menopause. THE hormone therapy replaces the estrogen and progesterone THAT"S MISSING FROM THE BODY, AND eases symptoms. Depending on the form and dose prescribed, length of use will vary. But most medical organizations agree that oral hormone therapy is safe to take for 5 years for women in the early stages of post-menopause without added risk for heart disease or breast cancer . Intravaginal delivery of the hormones is localized, not systemic, so much smaller doses can be given for extended use. But as with any medication there are side effects. Oral HT can cause bleeding, bloating, breast tenderness or enlargement, headaches, mood changes, and nausea. If this happens to you, try a lower dose! If you do decide to take oral HT, re-evaluate your dose and whether you need to continue it every six months. For more information on menopause, view the other videos in this series.More »
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Every woman is going to experience menopause, so understanding this life change will help you handle the symptoms when they happen. Know more about menopause by watching this video.
Transcript: Menopause is a hallmark in the reproductive life of every woman, and simply indicates the natural and...
Menopause is a hallmark in the reproductive life of every woman, and simply indicates the natural and permanent cessation of fertility and the menstrual cycle. However, the physical and emotional components of menopause are more complex. When a female is born, she has one to two million egg-containing follicles in her ovaries. These represent all of the eggs she'll ever have. From the onset of puberty in her teenage years, she will begin her monthly menstrual cycles. This means that her body will release an egg into one of her fallopian tubes every month. If the egg remains unfertilized by a man's sperm, a woman's body will expel it as part of her monthly period. This cycle continues every month for much of a woman's life. Over time, however, her finite supply of egg follicles will diminish, both from years of ovulation and from a natural degenerative process. As the follicle supply is depleted, her ovaries gradually stop making estrogen and progesterone, the hormones that have regulated her menstrual cycle throughout her life. Physically, this will result in cessation of monthly menstrual periods. In fact, the definition of menopause is when a woman has gone twelve consecutive months without menstruating. Many other physical symptoms can follow this depletion, including hot flashes, decreased libido, insomnia, and night sweats. Menopause is a major milestone, and most women also experience emotional symptoms, like mood swings, irritability, and even depression, which are exacerbated by hormonal fluctuations. Menopause is actually preceded by a time referred to as perimenopause, which typically begins in a woman's forties. During this transitional period, the ovaries gradually decrease estrogen production, thereby lowering fertility and often causing irregular cycles. The average length of perimenopause is approximately four years, but is highly variable both in terms of onset and duration. Irregular periods and decreased fertility are signs that perimenopause has begun, although many women do not notice any symptoms at all unless they are attempting to conceive. Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 50 and 52, but some women experience loss of ovarian function before the age of 40. This is called premature menopause. There are various causes for premature menopause. A common one is oophorectomy, which is surgical removal of the ovaries. Some women experience a condition called premature ovarian failure, which is a genetic condition in which the ovaries simply stop working too soon. In addition, cancer chemotherapy and pelvic radiation treatments may lead to premature menopause. Regardless of when it occurs, menopause can be a challenging time, both physically and emotionally. For this reason, it's important for a woman to build a network of supportive individuals that she can talk to. Menopause is a natural stage in a woman's life, and it is nothing to be frightened or embarrassed about. If you have concerns about menopause, please make an appointment to discuss them with your doctor.More »
Last Modified: 2013-06-13 | Tags »
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What causes your libido to climb and suddenly plummet, only to climb again? The combination of estrogen and your very own levels of testosterone are powering this wild ride. See how.
Transcript: Have you heard that heading towards menopause can be a real rollercoaster? That includes taking your...
Have you heard that heading towards menopause can be a real rollercoaster? That includes taking your sex drive on a ride, too. and sometimes...for the better. What causes your libido to climb and suddenly plummet, only to climb again? Besides the forces of everyday life, it's the combination of estrogen and your very own levels of testosterone that are powering this wild ride. During PERImenoause, the years leading up to menopause, estrogen levels fluctuate dramatically, while testosterone levels change gradually. This causes an imbalance in the proportion of sex hormones that your body and brain are exposed to. But once estrogen levels stabilize at the new, low point after your period stops completely, these is a profound effect on the vagina. It's blood supply is impaired, the tissue thins, and natural lubrication is reduced. You become less sensitive to touch. The combination can make intercourse both uninteresting and painful. IN addition, the gradual loss of testosterone can affect desire as well as arousal. Fortunately, there are ways to stimulate interest and increase pleasure, even with the hormonal highs and lows. The postmenopausal brain is a powerful sex organ - use it to keep your interest sparked and your body primed. Although it may take longer to become aroused, , the more you think about sex, the more easily excited you may become, especially if you get creative with your techniques, including masturbation. With your partner you may find that using sex toys, watching videos, taking sensual baths, sharing massages, and the use of FLAVORED lubricants can make vaginal or oral intercourse more enjoyable. If anal intercourse turns you on, you'll need even more lubricants than for vaginal intercourse in order to protect delicate postmenopausal tissue. Outside the bedroom, try improving your diet and exercising regularly, as well as getting enough sleep each night. You can also use topical estrogen creams or the estrogen ring. They help keep delicate vaginal tissue supple and prevent pain or tearing during sex. Since they are not taken orally they don't have the risks associated with higher dose oral hormone therapy. Ask your doctor about a combo estrogen-testosterone pill. The testosterone gel that men use is too high a dose for women and causes negative side effects. For more information on how to take the reins during this life-changing adventure, check out other videos in this series.More »
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Forty to 60 percent of women experience some degree of vaginal dryness because of menopause. Find out what's affecting the moisture, acidity and elasticity of the vaginal tissues.
Transcript: Forty to 60 percent of women experience some degree of vaginal dryness because of menopause. Estrogen...
Forty to 60 percent of women experience some degree of vaginal dryness because of menopause. Estrogen is crucial in maintaining the moisture, acidity and elasticity of the vaginal tissues. When levels decline, the tissues thin. Intercourse may cause pain, a burning sensation, and an increased susceptibility to tears.The thinning tissue also increases your risk for yeast and urinary tract infections. Fortunately, this problem can be easily and safely treated. First you want to try using water-based lubricants and moisturizers, as well as vitamin E oil to hydrate vaginal tissues during intercourse. For longer-term improvement in tissue strength, try adding flaxseed and phytoestrogen-rich soy products, such as tofu, edamame and tempeh, to your diet. And try a little YOU time. YOU HAVE MY PERMISSION!-Having an orgasm through manual stimulation can help promote blood flow to the vaginal tissues, in turn stimulating natural lubrication. In addition, studies have shown therapies like acupuncture, biofeedback, massage, and hypnosis are beneficial for some women. Topical estrogen therapy is the most effective approach - and it is SAFE for most women. The low dose estradiol vaginal ring provides 3 months of protection from tears and irritation. You can also opt for prescription vaginal creams or tablets that contain estrogen. Dosing varies depending on what problems you are having. Regular hormone therapy taken orally will ease vaginal dryness, as well as other menopause-related symptoms, but this delivers a higher dose and carries more risks. However, if you don't have other symptoms, such as hot flashes, or sleep problems due to night sweats, you can stick with the topical options. For more information on how to alleviate other menopausal symptoms, check out more videos in this series.More »
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The symptoms of menopause can be subtle, or sometimes overwhelming. Learn how to recognize when you might be starting the process.
Transcript: As a woman grows older, her ovaries gradually produce less of the hormone estrogen. This time, called...
As a woman grows older, her ovaries gradually produce less of the hormone estrogen. This time, called perimenopause, continues until menstruation ceases altogether. When a woman doesn't menstruate for twelve consecutive months, she has officially entered menopause. This "change of life" usually occurs between 50 and 52, although some women experience menopause as early as their 40s, and a small percentage do so in their early 60s. Estrogen depletion is a gradual process, which means perimenopause can last anywhere from mere months to several years. Perimenopause usually begins with a gradual decline in fertility. Women trying to conceive after the age of 35 may notice this symptom in particular. Fluctuating hormones can also cause a woman's periods to become irregular. She may have no period one month, or a particularly heavy one the next. Once periods stop completely and menopause begins, many women experience more symptoms. The most common among these are hot flashes, also known as vasomotor symptoms. A hot flash is a sensation of heat or feverishness, mostly in the face, neck and upper chest, which is often accompanied by reddened skin. Hot flashes may last from several seconds to a few minutes. A minority of women report heart palpitations and feelings of anxiety while having flashes, but more commonly they have sweats and chills when the episode is over. Although no one is exactly sure why hot flashes accompany menopause, it is speculated that the dwindling of estrogen causes the brain's temperature control system, located in the hypothalamus, to reset itself at a higher temperature. Because decreased estrogen also causes the vaginal lining to thin, secretions can diminish. This often leads to another common menopausal symptom: vaginal dryness and irritation. These symptoms, in addition to decreasing testosterone levels, which are vital to libido, contribute to the lowered sexual interest experienced by so many menopausal women. In addition, some women suddenly have difficulty remembering information and concentrating on tasks, perhaps, again, due to hormonal shifts. Insomnia is another common complaint during this time. Some experts attribute this to nighttime hot flashes, while others suggest that changes in sleep patterns are just a common sign of aging. During both perimenopause and menopause, many women suffer from mood swings, anxiety and bouts of depression. Current wisdom, however, suggests that an upbeat view of menopause as a time of new possibilities not only eases symptoms, but enhances this transition as a positive life experience. If you're experiencing problematic symptoms of menopause, please make an appointment to speak with your doctor about treatments which can help!More »
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Will you go into menopause early after a hysterectomy? Watch this video to learn about the link-- or lack thereof-- between hysterectomy and menopause.
Transcript: Hysterectomy, which is the removal of the uterus, is the second most common surgery among women in the...
Hysterectomy, which is the removal of the uterus, is the second most common surgery among women in the United States. In fact, with 600,000 performed every year, it is only by cesarean section deliveries. The uterus, or womb, is the organ in the lower abdomen where a baby develops when a woman is pregnant, and it is the uterus that is removed during a hysterectomy. The ovaries, which produce eggs and female hormones like estrogen, may also be removed. This combination is called a hysterectomy and oophorectomy. A doctor decides that a hysterectomy should be performed for a number of reasons. In only ten percent of cases, the procedure is done to treat cancer of the reproductive organs. The remaining 90 percent of hysterectomies are performed for noncancerous conditions. Among them is endometriosis, where uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus, often leading to chronic pain. A woman who has had a uterine prolapse, wherein her uterus has slipped into the vagina, may also require a hysterectomy. Women who have fibroids, which are noncancerous tumors on the womb, often need hysterectomies as well, because the condition may cause severe pain or bleeding. In fact, fibroids are the leading cause of hysterectomy in the United States. But whatever the reason for a hysterectomy, the removal of the uterus itself will NOT trigger the start of menopause. This is confusing for many patients because menopause is technically defined as the cessation of the menstrual cycle for twelve consecutive months. Yet women who undergo hysterectomies will stop menstruating immediately after the procedure. However, menopause actually occurs when the bodys ovaries begin to produce less and less of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. This natural reduction in hormones is the reason for many of the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, insomnia, and vaginal dryness. Because women who have hysterectomies alone still have their ovaries, they will not undergo menopause until their hormone production slows naturally as they age. Having a hysterectomy may actually speed this process by two or three years, but does not trigger an immediate onset of menopause. Researchers theorize that this may be due to a reduction in blood supply to the ovaries, which in turn diminishes their ability to make estrogen and maintain a normal reproductive cycle. Its important to understand that women who have had an oophorectomy are in a different situation. When the ovaries are removed along with the uterus, hormone production will stop and menopause will begin immediately after the surgery. If your doctor decides that you are a good candidate for a hysterectomy, or a hysterectomy and oophorectomy, make sure you discuss the procedures short and long-term effects on your body.More »
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Would you know the signs of menopause if you began experiencing them? Find out more about what menopause is and what signs to look out for.
Transcript: Unfortunately, the only SURE sign that a woman has entered menopause is that she has gone twelve months...
Unfortunately, the only SURE sign that a woman has entered menopause is that she has gone twelve months without a menstrual period, with no underlying medical reason. Thus, a woman whose menstrual periods have become irregular should start tracking them on a calendar to share with her doctor. Yet many women want more concrete (and quicker) evidence that they are indeed undergoing menopause. There are several tests that may help offer conclusive evidence. During perimenopause, which precedes menopause, the ovaries begin to produce less estrogen, in turn causing the vaginal walls to thin. A simple Pap-like smear will allow a doctor to diagnose vaginal atrophy, which is the thinning and drying out of the vagina. The results, in conjunction with careful menstrual cycle records, may help your doctor to identify menopause. Another test which may help in diagnosing menopause checks levels of follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH. FSH is a hormone released by the brain's pituitary gland to trigger estrogen production. During perimenopause, FSH levels will fluctuate widely, as estrogen production cycles up and down. But during menopause, FSH levels become elevated as the body attempts to stimulate the ovaries to produce more estrogen and maintain the menstrual cycle. A doctor can determine how much FSH a woman has with a blood or urine test. Levels above 50 units per liter are usually indicative of menopause, as compared to the 5 to 30 units found in a menstruating woman. Home menopause testing kits are sold in drugs stores. These require a urine sample which also tests FSH levels. No matter where an FSH test is done however, it's important to remember that the results are just one component of identifying the onset of menopause. This means they only show elevated levels of FSH in the body, and are NOT 100 percent indicative that menopause has begun. To make that diagnosis, a doctor will also need to perform a complete medical history and physical, as well as study a woman's menstrual records and lab results. As a doctor runs tests to determine menopausal onset, he or she should also look into a woman's bone density. This is because lack of estrogen contributes to bone-weakening characteristic of osteoporosis. Unfortunately, symptoms of osteoporosis may not develop until bone loss is fairly extensive. For this reason, many doctors will also take bone mineral density tests at the time when menopause is approaching. A bone mineral density test, or DEXA, can quickly measure the amount of calcium in bones, in turn showing a doctor how strong they are. This test can be performed by several methods, including an x-ray or an ultrasound. While menopause can be a challenging time for many women, enlisting the aid of a support system including medical professionals and other women can help. If you have concerns about menopause or its symptoms, please make an appointment with your doctor today.More »
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Dealing with menopause doesn’t necessarily mean you have to opt for hormone replacement therapy or HRT. Watch our video on hormone therapy alternatives to explore your options.
Transcript: If you're experiencing any of the unpleasant symptoms of menopause, you're probably searching for relief....
If you're experiencing any of the unpleasant symptoms of menopause, you're probably searching for relief. Although hormone replacement therapy remains a popular treatment choice for some, other women are increasingly concerned about HRT's risks. These women may prefer to use one of several non-hormone prescription drugs that have been shown to be at least somewhat effective in preventing or relieving hot flashes. Two antidepressants, Effexor and Paxil, are reportedly effective at relieving the depression and mood swings which can accompany menopause. Finally, the anti-hypertensive medication clonidine can lessen the severity and frequency of hot flashes in selected healthy individuals by modulating blood vessel activity. However, potential side effects are serious and include agitation, anxiety, excess sedation and severe withdrawal, making this a last-choice medication for vasomotor symptoms. Some women suffering from more mild menopausal symptoms prefer to avoid prescription medication altogether and utilize natural remedies, such as over-the-counter herbs and plant estrogens. Some of the more popular herbal products include black cohosh, which is believed to relieve hot flashes and improve mood, and red clover, which may also reduce hot flashes and vaginal irritation. Women who prefer to take "natural" hormones may choose those derived from plants, or "phytohormones," which are found in wild yams. It's important to note that although many patients utilizing these natural products attest to their effectiveness, there are NO conclusive studies demonstrating efficacy for any of them! In addition, some of these alternative menopause treatments have been shown to have negative side effects ranging from excess facial hair to liver and kidney toxicity. For this reason, you should discuss any supplement program with your doctor. It's good to know that many women with mild to moderate symptoms can find relief with simple lifestyle changes. For example, some have found yoga and deep-breathing exercises helpful for mild hot flashes. Keeping track of hot flashes and identifying the factors that trigger them may also help. Some common triggers include stressful situations, spicy food, smoking, alcohol, caffeine, and hot air, hot water and hot weather. For women who suffer from vaginal discomfort, over-the-counter creams may make all the difference. If loss of libido is a problem, a woman may join peer support groups in real-time or on the internet. Peer support is widely accessible and has been repeatedly shown to be one of the most effective long-term 'therapies.' In general, treating the symptoms of menopause is a highly individualized process, and should include the input of a health care professional. If you're struggling with menopausal symptoms, speak with your doctor to discuss the best treatment plan for YOU!More »
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Is hormone therapy right for you? Find out the pros, cons and details of the hormone therapy debate in this video.
Transcript: From the 1960s to the late 1990s, hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, was the gold standard for treating...
From the 1960s to the late 1990s, hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, was the gold standard for treating the hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and other characteristic symptoms of menopause. Not only did HRT appear to alleviate menopausal symptoms, it was also found to help prevent the bone-weakening disease, osteoporosis, a particularly serious problem for post-menopausal women. Further research even suggested that estrogen therapy might lower the risk of heart disease. It was little wonder, therefore, that by 1990, the estrogen replacement drug Premarin, was the most frequently prescribed medication for menopause in the United States. Then, in 2002, a study by a group called the Women's Health Initiative, threw all the commonly held beliefs about hormone therapy into question. This study measured the long-term effects of estrogen-only hormone therapy, which was the treatment of choice for post-hysterectomy women, and the more commonly used combination therapy of estrogen plus progesterone. Surprisingly, both trials were called to a halt years before completion, because it appeared that the risks of hormone treatment significantly outweighed the benefits. The study found that in the group of 10,000 women taking combination hormone therapy, there were 18 more life-threatening blood clots, 8 breast cancer diagnoses, 7 more strokes, and 6 more heart attacks than in women taking placebos. At the same time, women using estrogen-only therapy did share the increased risk of strokes, but suffered none of the other negative consequences. The Women's Health Initiative study DID, however, have some positive findings. It showed that women utilizing combination therapy were indeed less likely to develop osteoporosis. They also had lower rates of colon cancer. But because the data were largely negative, an estimated 6 million women using hormones were urged to consult with their doctors, most of whom recommended hormone therapy cessation. Today, although HRT is no longer the mainstay for symptomatic menopause, for some women with severe menopausal symptoms, the benefits outweigh potential risks. For these patients, doctors seriously consider family history as well as personal risk factors, and then prescribe the smallest dose of hormone for the shortest possible time. Women with breast cancer or a history of blood clots, however, are strongly advised not to try HRT for menopausal symptoms. Using HRT is an individual decision for each woman. Many severely affected women are unwilling to forgo its benefits, while those with milder discomfort are reluctant to assume its risks. If YOU have troublesome menopausal symptoms, please discuss hormone replacement with your doctor. Together, consider your family history and personal risk factors, and assess the severity of your symptoms. And remember...there ARE alternative therapies that could be right for you!More »
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