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MenoPause Blog

  • Don’t worry, be (heart) happy

    by Margery Gass | May 21, 2013
    Here’s a pleasant way to lessen your risk of cardiovascular disease: Get happier.

    A 2007 study found that emotional vitality (a sense of enthusiasm, of hopefulness, of engagement in life, and the ability to face life’s stresses with emotional balance) appears to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

    If only it were that easy! you say. Are there ways to feel more happiness as an adult woman, fully-formed and set in your ways? The science says yes. It’s never too late to cultivate good mental health, emotional and social competence, and resilience. Tried and true methods include psychotherapy, meditation, faith-based activities, sports, and spending time with friends. Anxiety and depression (as well as happiness and optimism) are forged by both nature and nurture and are only 40% to 50% heritable.

    Finding a way to be in the moment, whether through playing music, practicing a sport, or engaging in any favorite pastime that allows you to lose yourself in the activity can help reduce stress and restore happiness.

    Other ways to be happier:
    • Optimism
    • Creating a supportive network of family and friends
    • Being good at self-regulation (bouncing back from troubles by staying physically active, eating well, avoiding risky behaviors, and knowing things will eventually look up again)
    • Training your brain: buy an attractive little notebook or journal and list the positive things that happen each day. Focus on those as you are drifting off to sleep. We can practice focusing on the positive and get better at it.

    And even if you try to cultivate more happiness in your life and find it’s not helping much, don’t fret, just wait a while: Happiness levels in the human lifespan have a U-shaped curve—people decline in happiness through their 40s and 50s (with the lowest point around age 46) then increase in happiness thereafter. It’s nice to know that scientific research shows that women in their 40s and 50s are going to feel happier as they grow older. Cheers!
    Go comment!
  • Will hysterectomy affect your heart health?

    by Margery Gass | May 17, 2013
    In the past, the results of research have been mixed. The news today is good. For 11 years, the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) followed 3,302 women ages 42 to 52 who still had their uterus and at least one ovary and were not using hormone therapy. Over the course of the study, some women had a hysterectomy for such reasons as fibroids, heavy periods, and chronic pelvic pain. In general, however, trends in several heart risk factors did not differ in women who experienced a natural menopause versus those who had a hysterectomy.

    This new research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that hysterectomy (with or without removal of the ovaries) does not increase a woman’s risk of heart disease.
    1 Comment
  • How much (or how little) salt do you need?

    by Margery Gass | May 16, 2013
    New research says there’s no good reason for most Americans to limit their total sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day (about a teaspoon) and for Americans at high risk of heart disease and stroke to 1,500 mg per day (about 1/2 teaspoon)—the levels now recommended by government guidelines.

    However, the American Heart Association is still concerned about the large amount of salt in processed food. Most Americans actually get about 3,400 mg (about 1.5 teaspoons) of sodium per day, partially because of their intake of processed and prepackaged foods. These folks should still lower their intake.

    For those at higher risk (people over 50, African Americans, and people with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease), cutting sodium intake is more important, but moderation is important—the Institute of Medicine points out that sodium intake must not be too low or it can actually increase risk of heart attack and health problems. Sodium is needed in the body to transmit nerve impulses, contract and relax muscle fibers, and maintain balance of fluids.

    What to do:
    If you’re under 50 with normal blood pressure (under 120/80 mm Hg) and in good health, you probably don’t have to worry about sodium intake—around 2,300 mg per day is a safe amount for you.

    If you are high risk, 1,500 mg per day remains a good limit. Just don’t go too low! Eat mostly fresh foods, watch the salt content of condiments, read labels, take care when eating in restaurants, and use nonsalty spices to liven up your meals.
    Go comment!
  • Angelina Jolie and genetic testing for breast cancer

    by Margery Gass | May 15, 2013
    Angelina Jolie has shared her personal decision-making process regarding her genetically increased risk of breast cancer in a New York Times op-ed. Her experience and decision provides an opportunity for all women to consider their family health history and how that history may impact their own breast caner risk. 

    Who should be tested for the high risk gene? Experts have researched this question and provide solid recommendations for all of us. Women with a relative who has a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation and women who appear to be at increased risk of breast or ovarian cancer because of family history should consider genetic counseling to learn more about their risks and about BRCA1 and BRCA2 tests. The full recommendations can be found at the following links:

    National Cancer Institute
    US Preventive Services Task Force
    Go comment!
  • Results of our survey on nonhormonal treatment for menopause symptoms

    by Margery Gass | May 14, 2013
    Do women really need more nonhormonal options to treat hot flashes? Last February we asked you and the answer was a resounding yes. In addition, we learned that most of you had already tried to combat your symptoms without hormones. No wonder you said you need something more!

    Here are the results of our poll, which we presented to the Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee in April.

    • 88.6% of respondents experienced hot flashes
    • 49.4% of hot flashes were moderate, 34.2% were severe, and 16.3% were mild
    • 89.6% of respondents believed women need a nonhormonal prescription therapy for menopause symptoms
    • When asked why, 84.9% responded that it was because traditional hormone therapy (HT) was unsafe, 29.8% because they had experienced an adverse reaction to traditional HT, and 37.6% had a contraindication to HT
    • Women had previously tried lifestyle changes (71.5%), over-the-counter products (52.8%), HT (41.3%), compounded HT (12.9%), other prescription drugs (10.8%), or nothing (10.7%) to combat their symptoms
    Thanks to all who responded to the survey!

    1 Comment
  • Why women should not douche

    by Margery Gass | May 09, 2013
    In truth, the vagina is like a self-cleaning oven—it doesn’t require any special cleaning method to stay healthy and you shouldn’t put any products or creams inside of it (unless you are prescribed a medication by your healthcare practitioner). Yet many women still practice douching to clean their private parts, which can paradoxically cause infection.

    Douching means washing out the vagina with water or other mixtures. Some women were raised to believe they should douche monthly to wash away period blood or prevent odor. Some believe it will prevent STDs or pregnancy (not true).

    Douching can change the acidity and bacterial makeup of the vagina, causing infections, which may spread to the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. It has been associated with bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, and adverse events in pregnancy.

    A recent study showed that 81% of respondents douched or put products like sexual lubricants, petroleum jelly, oils, or antifungal creams into the vagina. Women who used petroleum jelly intravaginally during the previous month were 2.2 times more likely to test positive for bacterial vaginosis.

    Ladies, there’s no need to douche or apply products internally. You can keep your vagina healthy by simply washing of the vulva with water during your daily shower or bath.
    Go comment!
  • Do you know a menopause superhero?

    by Margery Gass | Apr 30, 2013
    Does your healthcare provider deserve an award? Tell us! We are pleased to announce the availability of 46 awards and scholarships for menopause-related research, media, excellence, and education.

    Recipients of our Recognition Awards will each receive complimentary registration to attend the Society’s Annual Meeting being held October 9 to 12, 2013, at the Gaylord Texan in Dallas. They will also be honored at an Awards Reception during the meeting.

    Winners of the scholarships for medical residents, fellows, or doctors of nursing practice will each receive reimbursement for travel expenses, complimentary registration to the NAMS Annual Meeting, and many other benefits and special programs during the meeting, ensuring that the next generation of clinicians is prepared to care for midlife women.

    Review the available awards and eligibility criteria here, then complete the online Nomination Form. Nominations are due by May 31, 2013. Winners will be notified by July 12, 2013.

    If you have any questions, please contact Mary Nance, NAMS Director of Outreach, at 440/442-7845.

  • Just the facts about weight loss

    by Margery Gass | Apr 29, 2013
     A group of nutrition and diet experts laid out evidence-supported facts about weight loss in a recent New England Journal of Medicine article, as well as several myths. Here are the facts they presented regarding reaching or maintaining a healthy weight:

    1. Genetics do play a big role in obesity, but your genes aren’t your weight destiny. Changing your lifestyle can promote just as much weight loss as the medications used for this purpose today.

    2. Reducing your calorie intake can help you lose weight, but trying to go on a specific “diet” doesn’t work well in the long term —it’s the calorie reduction that counts.

    3. Exercise makes you healthier, no matter how much you weigh or whether you lose weight.

    4. You can’t go on a diet, lose weight, and go back to your old habits. You have to maintain changes to maintain your weight loss.

    5. Greater structuring of your meals and use of meal-replacement products promotes more weight loss than simply attempting moderation.

    6. Some medications can help you lose a substantial amount of weight and keep it off, but only as long as you take the medication.

    7. Weight loss surgery, if it’s right for you, can result in long-term weight loss and keep diabetes and more dire consequences of obesity at bay.

    Go comment!

MenoPause Blog

We strive to bring you the most recent and interesting information about various aspect of menopause and midlife health. We accept no advertising for our website. We want you to have accurate, unbiased, evidence-based information. 

JoAnn V. Pinkerton, MD, NCMP
Executive Director



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