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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