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 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: or

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Coping up with depression during menopause

If there were one disease caused by biological factors that is very hard to deal with, it would be depression. Depression or the condition of feeling sad or despondent--characterized by an inability to concentrate, insomnia, and feelings of extreme sadness, dejection, melancholy, and hopelessness--is one of the visible symptoms of menopause especially for women.

Caused by the dropping of serotonin--a hormone in the brain that regulates a person's mood--levels, depression has been linked to menopause because it has been observed that women who are on the verge of this phase experience intense mood fluctuations and severe episodes of sadness and confusion.

Experts say that depression is normal for menopausal women but it should be addressed properly so it wouldn't lead to more serious health, emotional, and behavioral problems.


Studies show that 8 to 15 percent of menopausal women experience depression. Experts say that the end of menstruation or menopause triggers episodes of depression and sadness in most women because of drastic hormonal changes that are left unsettled or not addressed.

Various researches prove that women who have a history of mood disorders, those who have been depressed before--especially during 20s, those who have underwent surgical or operational procedures, those who are smoking, dealing with so many children, or those who have work that causes a lot of stress are more likely to develop depression during menopause.

Symptoms of depression during menopause include sleeping disorders, hot flushes, loss of energy or fatigue, irritability, anxiety, excessive feeling of guilt or worthlessness, difficulty in concentrating or confusion, decreased interest or pleasure in activities, drastic change in appetite, and two or more weeks of depressed mood that may lead to extreme restlessness and suicidal tendencies.


Although depression is a natural occurrence during menopausal years, experts say that this should not be neglected because it can lead to more episodes of fluctuating moods and physical implications.

Although it is hard to deal with because it involves emotional and hormonal factors, medical authorities agree that depression is treatable when addressed properly. Here are some suggestions and treatment options that can help you cope up with depression during menopause:

1. Consider depression treatments and medications. Seeking help if you are suffering from depression during menopausal years is the first step in curing the "disease." Today, there are actually many effective and well-tolerated medications available depending on your need. Being an essential part of treating depression, antidepressant medications such as Selected Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) help to increase the amount of serotonin in the brain.

Aside from antidepressants, therapies such as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and Estrogen Therapy can help in especially in early menopausal stages. Before taking in any of these, make sure that you have consulted your physician first so you can discuss the risks and benefits of such treatments and medications. Psychotherapy is also one effective way to combat menopausal depression.

With the help of trained social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists, you can learn how to cope up with the negative feelings over menopausal years. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT that teaches better ways of thinking and behaving and Interpersonal Therapy or IPT that helps the person communicate more effectively are available for you.

2. Schedule for a physical examination. As women grown older, physical changes emerge that lead to physical health problems. Getting a thorough physical examination is one way to know if you are about to experience any physical ailments caused by depressive symptoms.

3. Try out alternative medicines, herbal therapies or remedies, and dietary supplements. Organic and herbal medications have grown popular the years for its healing properties. Today, the most popular herb used to cure depression is St John's Wort because it can help reduce effects of estrogen fluctuations.

Although many people attest to its effects, there have been no scientific studies that support the effectivity and safety of this alternative medicine. Before trying any of these herbal or organic products, make sure you inform your physician so further damage can be avoided especially if you are under any monitored medication. 4. Engage in physical activities or regular exercise. Experts agree that exercise helps treat depression by releasing your body's mood-elevating hormones that leads to a feeling of accomplishment and enhanced self-esteem.

5. Start changing your diet. Dietary changes like eating a well balanced diet and regularly scheduled meals are known to help a lot in managing depression.

Dr Nathalie Fiset is a family doctor and a certified hypnotherapist. For more information go to: or

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Symptoms of Early Menopause

Forewarned is forearmed.

This is one of life?s adages that women should live by especially when dealing with menopause.

Menopause is a period that all women will go through eventually. It is inevitable. It happens when the ovaries run out of eggs and when levels of secretion of female hormones estrogen, progesterone and androgen go down. Menopause marks the end of a woman?s child-bearing days. This often occurs in their mid-50s. Usually, women who began their menstrual period early will also menopause early.

In addition to the end of one?s fertile days, menopause also brings several changes in the body. Because of the decreased levels of the female hormones, women will experience a lot of changes. In fact, these changes can actually be observed even before the actual menopause period.

Delayed again!

One of the earliest signs and symptoms of Menopause is menstrual irregularities. The effect may be varied depending on the person. There are some who will have decreased flow while others will skip their periods in some months. So don?t be surprised if you suddenly miss your monthly flow for four consecutive months.

This is quite ordinary when menopause is about to happen. This is due to the decreasing secretions of progesterone. Of course, you also have to make sure that you are not pregnant because that may be the case.

Is it warm in here?

Women who are nearing their menopausal days may also find themselves perspiring even when the temperature is already way low. Some will even start bringing battery-operated fans because they just can?t stand the heat even when inside an air-conditioned office room. What they are experiencing are hot flashes.

Hot flashes are characterized feelings of warmth and sweating even when it is actually cold brought on by the abrupt change in body temperature. About a quarter of women go through this phenomena, making it the most common indicator of menopause .

Can?t sleep

As if hot flashes and irregular monthly flow is not enough, women may also find it hard to sleep without any reason. Some also experience night sweats.

Unpredictable as the weather

Mood swings is perhaps one of the most popular symptoms of those nearing menopause. Women will be more susceptible to depression and feelings of lowliness and loneliness. They also get easily irritated more than usual and may suffer from see-saw of emotions. Happy-sad-happy-sad.

It?s in the vagina

When levels of estrogen drops, the lubrication and elasticity of the vaginal tissues may suffer. This makes intercourse more painful than before. This is the reason why some people say that sex drive goes on the a nosedive before and during menopause. Those nearing menopause are also more susceptible to urinary infections as well as vaginal problems. Urinary incontinence is also not uncommon.

Bone problems

Declining levels of the female hormone estrogen may result in bone problems especially when there is not enough calcium deposits in the body. Women will find it harder to do some work.

They will also lose some of their flexibility. Their bones become more fragile and easily broken. In fact, women who are nearing their menopausal period are advised to take lots of calcium-rich foods because the risk for osteoporosis increases. Bone loss is one of the effects of menopause that women should not take for granted.

Fats reign

Unfortunately, changes in the estrogen levels may increase the levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Often called the bad cholesterol, this increases one?s risk of heart disease.

As an added blow, the levels of the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol or what is called the good cholesterol also decrease as one grows old.

Dr Nathalie Fiset is a family doctor and a certified hypnotherapist. For more information go to: or

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Menopause: What Every Woman Needs to Know

If there is one stage of a woman?s life that is hard to cope up with that would be her menopausal years. As defined, menopause is a stage wherein a woman?s monthly period has stopped. Veering away from the common conception that menopause is a ?disease,? people in the medical world says that menopause is nothing but a normal and expected change in any woman?s body.

Unlike before when menopause is clouded by absurd misconceptions and myths, people now are more open in discussing the phenomenon because many studies have proven that menopause is a natural step in the process of a woman?s aging. With the advancement of technology and researches, more and more women are given hope that they can still go on with their life by teaching them to discover and rediscover their purpose in life.

Most studies show that the most common determinant of menopause in women is physical changes. Since menopause is associated with absence of estrogen in the body (since the ovaries has stopped producing them), the reproductive system gradually shuts down.

Experts agree that the average age range of menopause in women is form 50 onwards. But there are cases wherein a woman may experience her menopausal earlier especially if she has undergone surgeries, major operations and a series of therapy due to cancer and other illnesses. Other causes of early menopause are autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, and diabetes mellitus.

Basically, menopausal years are divided into three phases: the premature menopause, which is distinguished for women whose ages are below 40 years old. Next are the menopausal climax years from 50 and above and the post-menopausal, which is experienced by women 50 and above and are those prone to more serious illnesses such as osteoporosis.


Experts agree that menopause pertains to the drastic changes in a woman?s life that greatly affects her physical appearance, sexual function, feelings of well-being, and overall mood.

Technically, a woman is said to reach her menopause when there?s an absence of menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. Here are some of the visible symptoms of menopause:

1. Drastic change in the pattern of menstrual periods. This can be characterized by shorter or longer span of time, lighter or heavier flow of menstruation, and more or less time between periods.

2. Occurrence of hot flashes or hot flushes.

3. Profuse night sweating usually followed by a slight chill.

4. Sleep disturbances and trouble getting enough sleep due to physical discomfort.

5. Vaginal atrophy. This is characterized by thinning, drying, shrinking and thinning of the vagina in most women.

6. Psychological instability characterized by mood disturbances, irritability, fatigue, decreased sexual desire, and memory loss. Violent mood swings, crabbiness, and crying spells, which are usually caused by, pent up frustration due to lack of sleep are also common.

7. Inability to concentrate or focus on tasks properly. This is characterized by great deal of trouble focusing on things because the woman feels mixed-up and confused.

8. Hair issues. Women who are experiencing menopause or those who are about to experience it are having trouble dealing with hair issue due to hair loss or thinning on their head. They also experience hair growth on their face, which is quite unlikely for a woman.

9. Increased estrogen deficiency that leads to vasomotor instability characterized by dyspareunia, itching, dryness, bleeding, urinary frequency, urinary urgency, and urinary incontinence.

10. Skeletal problems and muscle pains such osteoporosis, joint pains, and back pains.

As a woman?s body adapt to the ever-changing levels of natural hormones, more and more symptoms can be traced to menopause. If you want to prepare for this natural occurrence in a woman?s life, make sure that you visit your doctor so he/she could do the necessary diagnosis and examinations to you. After which, proper solution can be provided by your physician depending on your individual need.

Dr Nathalie Fiset is a family doctor and a certified hypnotherapist. For more information go to: or

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Blood Testing for Menopause

The menopausal ovary, in the absence of eggs, is unable to produce significant amounts of the female sex hormones. If a blood test is done to measure the levels of estrogen and progesterone, they will be found to be at significantly low levels. The function of the ovaries is under the control of the pituitary gland, found at the base of the brain and functions as the master controller for the many hormonal glands in the body. The pituitary gland is very sensitive to the hormonal output of the ovaries and it begins to react when the ovaries fail to produce estrogen and progesterone in the bloodstream. The pituitary gland compensates with the failure of the menopausal woman's ovaries. It quickly starts to secrete large amounts of a hormonal messenger known as the follicle stimulating hormone, stimulating the ovaries to put them back into action. But still, the ovaries have stopped producing estrogen and progesterone, despite the hormonal stimulation of the pituitary gland and the ovaries remain dormant. The pituitary gland then continues to produce ever-increasing amounts of follicle stimulating hormone into the bloodstream. This is futile as far as the ovaries are concerned, but it does provide a useful diagnostic test your physician can use to asses whether you are menopausal. Typically, follicle stimulating hormone blood levels are quite high if you are menopausal, approximately ten to fifteen times higher than the normal level for women not yet approaching menopause.

These blood tests can be very useful if you are experiencing many vague symptoms for which your physician can find no obvious cause. Premenopausal symptoms can range from chronic fatigue, rheumatic aches and pains, to anxiety and depression. There may be poor libido due to a relative deficiency of estrogen and progesterone. Though this stage of a woman's reproductive cycle occurs in her late 40s, it may start at any time after the age of 35. It is often associated with a change in the pattern of the menstrual cycle, with menstrual bleeding becoming erratic. During the premenopausal years, blood tests to measure the level of estrogen, progesterone and follicle stimulating hormone may be able to indicate a relative deficiency of estrogen and progesterone. If a deficiency is identified, appropriate hormone replacement therapy can be introduced to correct it.

A blood test to measure hormone levels is a simple and relatively non-invasive technique. It may also be appropriate to try a course of natural hormone replacement therapy for at least three months to see if these premenopausal symptoms can be relieved. Such treatment can be dramatically effective and often prevents the need for sedatives, painkillers and anti-inflammatory agents in premenopausal women.

Some women are told not to worry about their hormones until they stop menstruating completely; once this occurs, they can return to the physician. But by this stage you may have experienced premenopausal symptoms for years - which in this day and age is no longer necessary - and even your friends will be able to call you menopausal. You won't need a doctor to finalize the diagnosis.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Menopause

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