Thursday, May 14, 2009

Increased Cramping During Menopause?

During your late forties or early fifties, you will begin a new stage of life, common to all women?menopause. Some rejoice at the thought to no longer having to buy tampons. Others cry, realizing their childbearing days are over. However, all experience new (and usually unpleasant) changes in their monthly hormonal cycle, one of which is cramping. Increased cramping, unfortunately, is not unusual for women later in life, but there are a number of treatment options. You don?t have to live with the pain of menopausal cramps.

If you experienced cramping during your menstrual cycle, you will most likely experience it after you stop menstruating as well. This begins to occur during the first stage of menopause, called perimenopause. You may continue to experience menstruation irregularly during this time, but it is common to get cramps even without bleeding. You have officially entered the menopause stage of life after you have not experienced a period for one year. At this time, cramping may still occur monthly?just because your ovaries no longer produce eggs does not mean you do not still experience some kind of monthly hormonal cycle?but it is rare, so talk to your doctor to be sure that you are otherwise healthy. Cramps after you have not experienced bleeding for over a year may indicate other more serious health problems. Also talk to your doctor if you have never experienced cramping before, but begin to suffer from cramps regularly.

You have a number of treatment options to relieve the pain you may experience from cramping, and your doctor can help you choose the best course of action for your body. While some women may find relief in simple over-the-counter medicines (the same ones used in earlier years for relief with menstruation cramping), others seek prescription strength drugs. In recent years, the idea of hormone replacement therapy has become a less popular option due to its association with cancer, but some doctors still recommend this course of action.

Natural remedies, such as herbs, are receiving thumbs ups from women across the country, and are now one of the most common treatments for menopausal women, as they help with not only cramping, but with other symptoms as well. This is a type of alternative medicine that is still being studied, but many women swear by the use of herbal remedies. Other alternative medicine treatment options include acupuncture, acupressure, and meditation.

There are also things you can do to relieve cramps at home, without medicine or medical procedures. These are often the same remedies used by menstruating women to relieve cramps during their periods. Try a warm bath to help with the tension and pain. Also remember that regular sexual activity is healthy and a great way to stop cramping. Massage can also be used at home as a temporary fix to cramps.

Overall, it is simply important to keep an open dialogue with your doctor about the numerous changes that are taking place in your body. Cramps are a common problem for the majority of women going through menopause, so you are not alone in your struggle to stop the painful cramping in the perimenopause stage of life.

Kathryn Whittaker has an interest in Menopause. For further information on Menopause please visit Menopause or Menopause Symptoms.
 

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Effective Menopause Hot Flash Remedy Comes From Plants

A hot flash remedy is not that hard to find, if you know where to look. Products that help menopause hot flash symptoms in some women may not help in others. So, here we look at several herbal remedies that may be beneficial. Because of the health risks associated with hormone replacement therapy, natural remedies are becoming increasingly popular. And, many of them can work.

Hot flashes, hot flushes and night sweats are three different names for the same physical reaction to decreasing levels of estrogen. They may begin years before actual menopause and last for several years afterwards. The frequency and severity varies from one woman to the next. Researchers often describe them as ?vasomotor? symptoms, because blood vessels and circulation are involved.

Typically the heat begins in a woman?s chest, travels up the neck to the face and head. When they occur at night, they may interrupt a woman?s sleep, increasing levels of fatigue and sometimes leading to insomnia. From the experiences of other women, we know that caffeine, alcohol, tobacco products and spicy foods can trigger them, as can anger, frustration and irritation. Regular exercise and drinking plenty of water seems to help.

The most commonly recommended hot flash remedy is black cohosh. More research has been done concerning the effectiveness and safety of black cohosh than on any of the other herbs that can help menopause hot flash symptoms. Some women using black cohosh report that it is 100% effective. But, if you have tried it and it doesn?t work for you, there are other alternatives.

Scientists are still unsure why black cohosh is such an effective hot flash remedy. Evaluations of the chemical compounds of other plants have revealed an estrogen-like substance, aptly named phytoestrogens. Black cohosh does not appear to contain phytoestrogens. It seems to affect other chemicals in a woman?s body. Phytoestrogens are believed to relieve menopause hot flash symptoms by replacing some of the estrogen lost as the ovaries stop functioning.

Isoflavones are one type of phytoestrogen. If you read the ingredients on a hot flash remedy, you may see ?soy isoflavones? or ?isoflavones from red clover?. Some researchers have been concerned that isoflavones or phytoestrogens could have the same side effects as synthetic estrogens used in hormone replacement therapy. So, here?s what we know about the risks associated with long term use of synthetic hormones.

We know that estrogen replacement therapy can cause endometrial cancer. The endometrium is the lining of the uterus and estrogen causes the lining to build up, which, without menstruation, frequently led to cancer. Thus, doctors would prescribe an estrogen-progesterone combination therapy. The progesterone would cause the lining to be shed each month, leading to a return of monthly periods, and decreasing the cancer risk. For years, this was believed to be a safe hot flash remedy.

As with many medical treatments, the risks turned up with long term use of this type of therapy. The Women?s Health Initiative recently concluded a seven year study of women using hormone replacement therapies of both types. The conclusion is that hormone replacement therapy of any type increases a woman?s risk for blood clots and stroke. Combination therapy, which was thought to be safer than estrogen only, increased the risk of heart disease and breast cancer, as well. An even longer study (more than twenty years) performed by Harvard scientists found that estrogen only increased breast cancer risks when used for more than 15 years. Typically a woman would not use hormone replacement therapy for menopause hot flash symptoms for that many years, but when the risks are blood clots, heart disease and stroke, even short term use is rarely recommended for mild to moderate menopausal symptoms.

While no long term studies have been conducted concerning women who use phytoestrogens or isoflavones to help relieve menopause hot flash symptoms, short term clinical studies have revealed their effectiveness, lack of side effects and safety. Even the idea that phytoestrogens, which are found in soy beans, a health food, might not be safe for long term use seems silly. People eat soy all of the time and have for many, many years.

Red clover is grown for animal feed. Native Americans used the flower for tea and chewed the leaves raw. Healers used it to treat liver ailments, gall bladder ailments, ulcers, diabetes, tonsillitis, internal cancer, appendicitis, headaches, as a hot flash remedy and to relieve other symptoms related to changing levels of hormones and aging.

Scientific research and the experiences of other women tell us that black cohosh can help relieve menopause hot flash symptoms. Laboratory tests have revealed that black cohosh has no effect on even estrogen sensitive cancer cell lines. If this hot flash remedy has not worked for you or if you have other concerning menopausal symptoms, then please visit the Menopause and PMS Guide to learn about safe and effective alternatives.

Patsy Hamilton was a health care professional for over twenty years before becoming a freelance writer. Currently she writes informational articles for the Menopause and PMS Guide. Read more at http://www.menopause-and-pms-guide.com.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Menopause Depression

Women who are approaching the menopausal stage are at a higher risk for depression, and two current studies show strong evidence that hormonal changes may be at least partially to blame. Both studies followed women through menopausal transition called perimenopause. Women in the studies did not have history of depression but their risk of developing indicators of depression significantly increased during these years.

Depression is a disease that due to biological factors such as hormones in the brain, particularly serotonin, that regulate the mood. There are times that levels of serotonin may drop causing fluctuations in mood and severe episodes of depression. People who suffer from depression experience intense feelings of hopelessness, melancholy, and sadness for lingering periods of time, which is at least two weeks. This disease can lead to range of symptoms and can have terrible effects on a person?s life including isolation, physical ailments, and even suicide.

Menopause can set off feelings of sadness and episodes of depression in some women. It is said that anywhere between eight percent and fifteen percent of menopausal women experience some for of depression. Menopause depression causes are still on debate and has had theories and assumptions of why so many menopausal women experience mood disorders.

One theory of menopause depression is that the stress of menopause symptoms leads to depression. Some women find it hard to manage on their own symptoms of menopause as they already have to deal with work, family, finances, and friends, let alone the big physical change, causing the onset of depression.

Another theory on menopause depression connects the illness with irregular levels of hormones in the body. All through the menopausal stage, levels of progesterone, estrogen, and androgen are continuously changing. These hormones are believed to be associated with the mood centers in the brain. As hormones drop, mainly estrogen, a woman experience periods of sadness and hopelessness. A number of women experience severe drop in mood which results to depression.

Women in the stage of menopause have an increased risk of developing menopause depression if they have a history of mood disorders. Those who have been depressed before, particularly during their twenty?s, are more probable to see the depression reoccur. Those who have gone through surgical menopause are also at a higher risk of menopause depression. Surgery cause a significant drop in estrogen levels in addition to increased anxiety and symptoms. Women smokers, or have young children, or under a lot of stress, are more prone to develop some form of depression during this time.

Seeking help immediately when experiencing menopause depression is very much advised, there will be a number of alternatives available to help reduce the symptoms and assist in letting women get enjoyment out of life again. Menopause depression diagnosed is the first step to begin living a happy life after menopause.

Milos Pesic is a successful webmaster and owner of popular and comprehensive Overcome Depression blog. For more articles and resources on Depression related topics, visit his blog at:

=>http://overcome-depression.blogspot.com/

 

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Menopause - Heart Disease and HRT

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, but because men have higher rates of heart disease it has long been assumed that estrogen is what creates that difference. Heart disease is more prevalent in post-menopausal women than pre-menopausal women, so this has also helped fuel the myth that estrogen has something to do with heart problems. Actually it is probably just due to the fact that post-menopausal women are older.

There has been a clear relationship established between amounts of natural estrogen and breast cancer, osteoporosis and endometrial cancer. The longer you have natural estrogen in you because of early menstruation, drinking alcohol, or certain medications the greater the risk of breast cancer and the lower risk of osteoporosis. However, no clear relationship has been established between natural estrogen and heart disease.

So what does put a woman at risk for heart disease? A family history of heart disease. Levels of lipids, the most common one is known as cholesterol, are also a factor. High levels of an amino acid called Homocysteine have also been shown to increase risk. (Good news is that can be lowered with vitamin B and folic acid.) High levels of C Reactive Protein produced during periods of inflammation increases heart disease risk and this protein is also increased by estrogen. Other factors that increase the risk for heart disease include personality type, diabetes, smoking, being overweight, having high blood pressure and having blood that clots easily.

In terms of Estrogen therapy and heart disease, this means that even though studies have shown that HRT reduces the risk of heart disease in women, the studies have been more observational in nature. Because the studies are observational they really have not yet answered the question if the issue is that estrogen lowers the instance of heart disease or if the instance of heart disease is lower because women who are healthy tend to be on estrogen in the first place. None of the studies done so far have been random controlled blind studies. All the women were of higher social and economic status, highly educated, thinner, non-smokers and also were more likely to have had a hysterectomy. They were more likely to have insurance coverage, therefore more likely to go to a doctor regularly and have had preventive healthcare, lowering their risk of heart disease anyway.

All in all, the evidence showing that HRT can lower the risk of heart disease is circumstantial and considering the recent studies showing links to Breast Cancer and HRT, it would seem that whatever unproven benefit of HRT does not outweigh the risk of taking it. And the American Heart Association recommends the same thing - women with heart disease should not be given HRT to prevent further occurrence and women already on HRT that have heart disease should only continue to take it if the have an additional reason to take it besides heart disease.

There are additional ways to prevent heart disease besides HRT than you can do, like lifestyle changes and drugs that can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure so if the only reason you are considering HRT is for heart disease, it's probably best to pursue those other options first.

Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to Menopause

 

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Which Menopause Supplements Are Best? Discover an Array of Natural Herbs for Menopause Relief

Picking the right menopause supplements has become an important issue for many women beginning and transitioning through this stage of life.

Natural herbs for menopause are seeing a sharp rise in demand as the numerous risks associated with Hormone Replacement Therapy have become well known, such as an alarming increased risk of breast cancer.

The first thing to note when purchasing menopause supplements is to make sure the company producing them uses what are known as standarized extracts. These tend to be made with not only the highest quality herbs, but it's also a process that ensures you are getting the same amount of ingredients from one capsule to the next.

This is a major problem for many non standarized supplements, which is why you may have read in the media that many supplements do not even contain what's stated on the label -- sometimes it's a lot higher, and sometimes it's a lot lower. You don't want either in a supplement you take, since too much can trigger side effects, and too little will give you no results.

Among the most popular natural herbs for menopause include:

  • black cohosh
  • wild yam
  • dong quai
  • red clover
  • Chasteberry

Many experts believe black cohosh's effectiveness comes from its ability to decrease the levels of a hormone that is produced by the body in high levels during menopause.

The increase of this hormone, which is called luteinizing hormone, is believed to be responsible for numerous unpleasant effects associated with menopause, such as hot flashes.

Red clover extract, although not as widely known as black cohosh, may help mitigate the symptoms of menopause because it contains isoflavones....which are similar to estrogens (the female hormone). Interestingly, the effect seems to differ based on what stage of menopause women are in.

In pre-menopausal women with normal endogenous estrogen levels, isoflavones may have an anti-estrogen effect. In post-menopausal women with low endogenous estrogens, isoflavones are likely to act as weak estrogens.

Chasteberry is used a great deal in Europe in menopause supplements because it contains estrogen- and progesterone-like compounds as well. It may also have a function in regulating luteinizing hormone as black cohosh does.

Dong quai is another of the natural herbs for menopause. Although it has been used for centuries, its effectiveness is less proven than black cohosh. It has a history of use in Native American culture and is believe to have mild estrogenic effects.

Wild Yam is touted as a natural alternative for estrogen replacement therapy. Studies have shown that it may help postmenopausal vaginal dryness and premenstrual syndrome.

When choosing menopause supplements, you need not choose a formula with all of these ingredients, but it should definitely contain some of them, and especially black cohosh.

And, all of the herbs for menopause in the formula should be of standardized extracts.

Katie Smith is an editor of the informative http://www.menopause-and-pms-guide.com Visit us to learn about our recommended product containing natural herbs for menopause.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Truth on Menopause and Weight Gain

One of the major causes of weight gain in women is the changes in their hormone levels and sedentarism. Studies show that about 90 percent of menopausal women experience weight gain between the ages 35 to 55. This is not surprising because weight gain comes with the territory of aging and menopausal.

Medical experts say that menopause occurs when a woman?s ovaries has stopped producing estrogen which is responsible for ovulation and menstruation. Today, more and more women who are experiencing menopause go through weight gain due to hormonal changes brought about by aging. Experts explain that with aging, the muscles in the body start to decrease in bulk along with the slowing of metabolism. This slowing down of metabolism along with decrease in bulk of the body?s muscles contributes to weight gain. Aside from weight gain, menopause also leads to loss of sexual appetite or loss of libido, vaginal atrophy, and growth or loss of hair in the head and face. With all these demoralizing truths, it is common that women who are experiencing menopause lose self-confidence and esteem. But, it shouldn?t stay that way. With the help of science and modern researches, weight gain during menopausal years can be solved.

THE WEIGHT GAIN

Weight gain during menopause is as common as aging. Usually, women sometimes gain about 10 to15 pounds starting from their abdomen, to the hips, thighs, and rear. Studies show that weight gain on women usually starts during their pre-menopausal years and will continue to pile up as they grow older. For those who have experienced early menopausal due to major operation or surgery, they are expected to gain weight faster compared to those who haven?t.

Because of the changes in their weight or size, many women are starting to dread the thought of menopausal. It is recommended to exerciseregularly and eat to one's appetite. Experts say that women should be more aware when they are entering the stage of menopausal so they can prepare for it. Physicians say that women should expect that as they enter the early stages of menopause, they would have difficulty maintaining their weight because of the fluctuation in their hormones. Because of these natural hormonal changes?that include estrogen, testosterone, and androgen levels?a man?s or woman?s appetite, metabolism, and fat storage are greatly affected.

UNVEILING THE REASONS BEHIND WEIGHT GAIN DURING MENOPAUSE

Before sulking into a pit of depression, a woman must know the reasons behind it so she can make the necessary adjustments.

1. Hormone deficiency and lack of female hormones that slows down metabolism. Lack of estrogen leads to excessive weight gain because it alters certain functions of the body and greatly influences fat distribution in the body. You must understand estrogen and fat distribution very well.

2. Slow metabolism due to aging. As people grow older, their metabolism starts to slow down. One effective way of reducing energy intake, women who are experiencing menopause are recommended to have a balanced diet composed of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

3. Lack of exercise or physical activity. As women enter their menopausal stage, they become more sedentary in almost everything that they do. This inactive lifestyle leads them to weight gain because they are not getting enough physical exercise they should get. If muscle pains are giving a woman a hard time to do such simple and regular exercises, she can try taking in vitamin and mineral supplement to boost her energy levels that contain calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, chromium and selenium.

4. The use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can also be a big factor in gaining weight. Although HRT is known to help give back lost female hormones, this treatment can also add up on the weight she already has because it works. HRT has also been subject to serious warnings in their use recently.

5. Weight gain can also be traced in increased food intake due to emotional problems like depression. Emotional eating or overeating due to frustration over weight gain is also a big factor that contributes to excessive weight gain. Talking to friends and satying active are powerful ways to fight back.

Dr Nathalie Fiset is a family doctor and a certified hypnotherapist. For more information go to: http://www.bestmenopause.com/weight-gain.html http://www.aperfectharmony.com or http://www.myalpha-power.com.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Learning how to deal with menopause

Learning how to deal with menopause

A woman's life is often marked by drastic changes. From adolescence to her menopausal years, women strive to cope up with the remarkable changes that come their way.

According to medical experts, menopause is a very significant time in any woman's life because this is the time her body goes through a lot of changes. These changes--mostly physical--greatly affect her social, emotional, and intellectual stability. Studies show that when a woman goes through her menopausal years, her feelings about herself and her attitude towards work and life in general changes considerably.

MENOPAUSE FACTS

Menopause is perfectly a natural occurrence in any woman's life. Unlike before when menopause is dreaded like some sort of disease, medical advances today have proven that a wide range of health care choices can be done to help women cope up with their menopausal stage.

Learning what menopause is all about, what causes it and what are the things that can be done to enhance the quality of life during this phase will help women nearing it understand it fully. Knowledge about it can even teach women how to deal with the phase when it comes.

In medical terms, menopause--meno (menstruation) and pause (stops)--refers to the last menstrual flow in a woman's life or the end of a woman's menstrual periods. Medical experts say that menopause is a natural part of aging and usually occurs when the woman's ovaries stop making hormones called "estrogens." When the ovaries stop producing estrogen, the estrogen level will drop and will halt monthly periods. Low estrogen levels are usually linked to many uncomfortable symptoms in most women. Since estrogen plays a big role in shaping a female's body in preparation for various female functions such as pregnancy, it's loss during menopausal years can create a big impact on a woman's overall well being.

The climacteric spans of menopausal years are usually dated from early or mid 40s to late 50s to early 60s. The entire phase includes the pre-menopausal years (before menopause), the menopausal climax years (during menopause), and the post-menopausal years (after menopause) or the "Change of Life." Aside from aging, menopause can also be triggered by surgical removal of the ovaries for any other reasons like illness.

Medical experts agree that about 75 percent of women across the globe report uncomfortable symptoms during menopause and these vary from the most common to the most complicated ones. Studies show that the most common symptoms of menopause include hot flashes and vaginal atrophy or thinning, drying, shrinking and thinning of the vagina. Other symptoms include hot flashes along with sudden and violent waves of sweating, irregular periods, vaginal or urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence or inability to control the flow of urine, redness or inflammation of the vagina, ultimate discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse, visible changes in skin, digestive tract, and hair.

Emotional changes like mood swings and depression are also distinguished during pre-menopausal, menopausal, and post-menopausal years.

In the long run, more serious health risks are related to menopause or the lack of estrogen supply in a woman's body. These include osteoporosis, heart diseases and heart attacks that can be traced due to being overweight or obesity, blood pressure that is monitored regularly, cigarette smoking, illness such as diabetes, high levels of "bad" cholesterol in the body and a low level of physical activities.

Menopause is usually determined after a woman has visited her physician. After the health history and physical examination has been diagnosed and conducted by the doctor, the appropriate therapy is then recommended to improve the menopausal discomfort. If you are on the verge of menopausal and you're worried how to deal with it, make sure that you ask for professional help before anything gets worse.

Dr Nathalie Fiset is a family doctor and a certified hypnotherapist. For more information go to: http://www.bestmenopause.com/depression.html www.aperfectharmony.com or www.myalpha-power.com.

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