Thursday, June 4, 2009

Managing the Symptoms of Menopause

There is so much information out there regarding menopause and it’s symptoms. So many experts claiming so many ways to relieve symptoms. It is easy to try everything when those menopausal symptoms seem to be getting the best of you, but it is also important to do the research. As the owner of Cool-jams, a wicking pajama company for women with night sweats, I have the unique opportunity to talk to hundreds of women everyday going through menopause. As part of my job, I try to stay up dated on menopause treatments and solutions.

Each day, an estimated 6,000 women reach menopause—the time in a woman’s life when the ovaries stop producing eggs and menstrual periods stop. Most women experience menopause-related symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats , mood swings, and vaginal dryness. For some, these symptoms can simply be annoying and uncomfortable, but for others, menopausal changes severely affect quality of life, making it hard to focus on much else.

If you are suffering from menopausal symptoms, talk to your doctor. He or she can review healthy lifestyle tips that may help ease symptoms and lower disease risk. Try to consume a healthy, calcium-rich diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and grains. Get regular exercise to improve circulation, increase muscle strength and flexibility, and fight the mid-section weight gain that can increase your heart disease risk. Stop smoking and limit your alcohol intake. See our other articles on Managing Menopause Through Diet and Exercise.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) replaces the hormones no longer made by the ovaries with synthetic hormones. HRT is an effective option for treating hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. Estrogen-only and combined estrogen and progestin HRT have been associated with an increased risk of blood clot and stroke. Combined HRT has also been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and breast cancer. Some women should not take HRT, including those who have had some types of abnormal bleeding, blood clots, heart attack, or stroke; most women with an estrogen-dependent cancer; and women with liver disease or dysfunction. Ask your doctor if HRT is right for you. Doctors generally recommend that HRT be taken in the lowest dose necessary to relieve symptoms for as short a time as possible.

Some women try to treat their symptoms with so-called “bioidentical” hormones, plant-derived hormones that are hand-mixed by a pharmacist according to a doctor’s prescription. You may have heard about bioidenticals recently amidst a flurry of celebrity endorsements and claims from pharmacists who make them.

The manufacturers of certain “bioidentical” hormones have touted their formulas as superior to hormone therapies approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, claiming that their products offer relief from menopausal symptoms as well as prevention or treatment for serious diseases. The FDA has stated that the pharmacies’ claims of safety and effectiveness are false, misleading, and a violation of federal law. Manufacturers and proponents have also suggested that bioidenticals provide a more tailored form of therapy because a woman’s individual prescription is based on the results of saliva tests that measure the level of hormones in her body. But studies show that saliva testing does not accurately measure a woman’s hormone levels, which change depending on her diet, the time of day, the specific hormone being tested, and other variables.

So ladies before you jump on the bandwagon for just any menopause remedy, be sure to do the research and check with your doctor.


Sue Taggart said...

Wonderful blog. Absolutely great information. Thank you for sharing it. We menopausal women need you!

Jacqueline said...

Thanks for this blog. Here is another good article on perimenopause/menopause symptoms that is a nice compliment to your work (from Women to Women): Perimenopause — the beginning of hormonal change