Dietary supplements and other over-the-counter (OTC), nonprescription therapies for treating menopause symptoms should only be used with appropriate oversight from a healthcare professional. Few OTC therapies have the patient package insert that provides vital information on the safety and effectiveness of the drug, information that is required by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for all prescription medications. Because the normal regulations for prescription or OTC drugs do not apply to dietary supplements, demonstrating safety is not required before a dietary supplement is put on the market. Although a number of manufacturers do employ rigorous quality-control measures, many products are not monitored for purity or levels of active ingredients. In Canada, the term natural health product is used in place of dietary supplement. The 2004, Canadian Natural Health Products Regulations ensure that these products are safe, are of high quality, and actually do what they claim that they do. Canadian regulations require that all natural health products have a product license before they can be sold, and they must be produced at a site that also has a license. Supplements in the United States are not regulated in this fashion, and the buyer should be aware of this lack of regulation. Products are typically not pulled from the market until after people have been harmed.
Dietary supplements or herbal therapies can interact with prescription drugs, resulting in either increased or decreased effects of the drug, the supplement or both. Until clinical trials provide scientific evidence of the effectiveness and safety of any given supplement, it is always best to speak to your clinician before using any dietary supplements in the United States and to inform your physician if you are already taking them.
In a word, no. Women and girls have urinary incontinence (involuntary leaking of urine) but it tends to increase with age. Other factors that have been associated with incontinence include diabetes, obesity, weight gain, depression, hysterectomy, family history, and use of hormone therapy. Some disorders of the pelvic floor (the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue that support a woman’s internal organs) also may be responsible for the urinary leakage. Embarrassment and lack of awareness about effective treatments are the main reasons women do not seek care. Once you have been examined to determine the cause of the leakage, your healthcare provider can provide you with strategies and treatments to manage this condition, no matter what the cause.
In their 40s and 50s, women often gain weight, and they sometimes attribute this gain to menopause to be mostly related to aging and lifestyle, but menopause also contributes to the problem. In general, fewer calories are needed after midlife because less energy is expended. Whether weight gain is linked to menopause itself and/or age, the important thing is that studies shows that weight gain around menopause years can be prevented by exercise and diet—by minimizing fat gain and maintaining muscle, thereby reducing body size and burning more calories.
Many women gain weight during the menopause transition, although neither menopause nor menopause treatments have been shown to be responsible. Midlife weight gain appears to be mostly related to aging and lifestyle, and although the cause is not menopause, menopause may be related to changes in body composition and where fat is stored, with a decrease in lean body mass. These changes may have detrimental metabolic consequences, so it’s important to avoid weight gain during and after the menopause years through diet and exercise, which minimizes fat gain and maintains muscle, thereby reducing body size.
The North American Menopause Society maintains a search feature on this Web site for those women in the United States or Canada who are searching for physicians and other healthcare providers interested in helping them manage their health through menopause and beyond. Those who have passed a competency examination leading to the prestigious credential of NAMS Menopause Practitioner are noted in the displayed results.
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