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MenoPause Blog

  • More Zzzs please: a menopause sleep seminar

    by Margery Gass | Sep 25, 2012
    When a woman’s sleep is diminished, so is her quality of life. It may even be a risk factor for future diseases and breast cancer recurrence after menopause, according to a new sleep/breast cancer study. No matter what the cause of the disturbance -- night sweats, feelings of midlife anxiety -- getting 6 to 9 hours of sleep each night is never easy.

    Improving sleep routine is the key in treating sleep disturbances:
    • Maintain an environment that is conducive to sleep. Think quiet, cool, and dark.
    • Limit use of the bedroom to sleep and sexual activities.
    • Try relaxation techniques. Relaxation-inducing CDs or meditation can help you fall asleep.
    • Abide by the 15-minute rule. Those who don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes should get up, leave the bedroom to engage in relaxing activities elsewhere, and return to bed when drowsy.
    • Follow a sleep routine. Try to wake up and go to bed about the same time every day, even on weekends.
    • Wake up with the sun, if possible. Sunlight helps set the body’s biological clock.
    • Bring back the bedtime snack. While a large, heavy meal before bed can interfere with sleep, a light snack with protein and carbohydrates is recommended. A glass of warm milk may also induce sleep.
    • Avoid stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine throughout the entire day, not just during the evening.  
    • Exercise. Daily exercise may help ease insomnia for many women, but strenuous exercise close to bedtime can have the opposite effect.
    When lifestyle changes fail to alleviate sleep disturbances, a clinician should be consulted to discuss other options and to rule out medical causes of disrupted sleep. Women with serious sleep disturbances may benefit from referral to a sleep center.
    For more information about sleep disorders, check out the 70-page online booklet, Your Guide to Healthy Sleep, from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.  

    Go comment!
  • Get positive about body image

    by Margery Gass | Sep 24, 2012
    The dictionary defines body image as a person’s perception of their own physical appearance. Body image is formed from a variety of experiences and, while not exclusive to the female gender, it can be a problem for many women throughout their lives. Many things affect how a woman feels about her body -- from puberty to pregnancy to menopause and every media or personal influence in between.

    Menopause may be one such influence. Body image may be affected by the physical, emotional, and social changes of approaching menopause. Menopause at an earlier age caused by surgery or chemotherapy can have an even greater effect on self-perception. Taking steps to improve health will transform and enhance every woman’s sense of well-being and may help create a more positive body image. Need a little motivation?

    Try these simple suggestions to get started:
    • Compliment yourself: Some women focus on their flaws. Instead, they should try focusing on their finer features. Write down a compliment or two and refer to it when you find yourself obsessing about those not-so-favorite traits.
    • Feed your inner self (zero calories!): Engaging in enjoyable activities helps women feel good about themselves. Activities that are social or relaxing or spiritual can help eliminate the stress and anxiety that may keep women critical of their bodies.
    • Exercise tends to make women feel better about their body whether they lose weight or not: A poor body image can lead to emotional distress, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and disordered eating. Learning to take care of and love your body is crucial to happiness and wellness.
  • Say no to diabetes at midlife

    by Margery Gass | Sep 21, 2012

    Age and overweight (or obesity) are the most common traits that make someone likely to develop type 2 diabetes, but hormones may also have something to do with it. A family history of diabetes, prediabetes, minority ethnicity (Hispanic, African American, Native American, Asian, or Pacific Islander), high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease or abnormal cholesterol levels, and inactivity also put people at higher risk of developing diabetes. For women, having high blood pressure develop during pregnancy (called preeclampsia), diabetes during pregnancy (called gestational diabetes), or polycystic ovary syndrome raise the risk even more.

    What do the experts say?
    • Get tested. The CDC estimates that more than a quarter of people who have diabetes haven’t been diagnosed. The American Diabetes Association recommends that you get tested every 3 years starting at age 45, especially if you are overweight. The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that adults with blood pressure above 135/80 be screened every 3 years. If you have some additional risks, such as a family history of diabetes, then you should get tested more frequently.
    • Diet and exercise. Yes! The best way to prevent diabetes is with a healthy lifestyle. The National Institutes of Health sponsored a Diabetes Prevention Program trial that used “intensive” lifestyle training. The participants in this large clinical trial were overweight and had prediabetes. More than two thirds of them were women, and nearly half were from an ethnic minority group. Some got intense training to change their diet, physical activity, and habits with the goal of losing just 7% of their body weight. Another group took the diabetes drug metformin and got standard advice about diet and exercise. A third group got the standard advice only. The modest but focused lifestyle change did more than anything else to prevent diabetes. It reduced the number of new diabetes cases 58% more than standard advice alone. In contrast, metformin plus standard advice didn’t do nearly as well, reducing the number of diabetes cases 31% compared with standard advice. The message is that many people can benefit from adopting such habits.
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  • Now’s the time to help your heart

    by Margery Gass | Sep 20, 2012
    As we get older, our risk of cardiovascular disease rises, so now is the time to do to all we can to reduce our risk. Cardiovascular disease rates in the United States have declined dramatically since the 1950s—but not for women. From 1999 to 2004, deaths of women from heart disease actually rose. Although the rate has been declining since then, it is still higher than the rate for men. The good news is that you can effectively wipe out your risk of having a heart attack or other coronary event by adopting a healthy diet, exercising, and not smoking.
    Go comment!
  • Smoking makes menopause misery

    by Margery Gass | Sep 19, 2012
    There are so many reasons smoking is bad for you, but did you know it contributes to menopause misery? Here are reasons to quit now:
    • Smoking brings on menopause faster—as much as 2 years earlier in heavier smokers
    • Women smokers are more likely to have hot flashes more frequently and more severely than nonsmokers
    At and after menopause, your risks of other conditions rises, and smoking increases the risk even more, including:
    • Heart disease
    • Stroke
    • Breast cancer
    • Diabetes
    But there’s good news:
    • Quitting smoking before menopause may delay menopause
    • Quitting cuts your risk of death, no matter how old you are when you quit
    Go comment!
  • Moisturize to stay sexy! (We don’t mean your face.)

    by Margery Gass | Sep 18, 2012
    You may need moisturizing in more than one place. After menopause, your vagina can become thin and dry, especially if you are not using it regularly. Using estrogen in the vagina is one way to ease the problem, but non-hormonal, non-prescription options are available in the form of vaginal moisturizers or lubricants. Moisturizers are absorbed into and cling to the vaginal lining like natural secretions, and they can last a few days. Lubricants reduce friction and are used right before sex. Go for water-based or silicone-based lubricants and not oil-based ones, which can cause irritation and make it easier for condoms to break. Learn more here.
    1 Comment
  • Avoid gotta-go woe: menopause and incontinence

    by Margery Gass | Sep 17, 2012
    After menopause, those gotta go feelings that doctors call “urgency” and “overactive bladder” tend to increase. Urinary tract infections do, too, for some women. These problems can result from estrogen deficiency. Putting estrogen back right there near the urethra with an estrogen cream, ring, or pill that you insert into the vagina may help in certain cases.

    Curiously, researchers have found that estrogen has to be used locally to help in this situation. Even though declining estrogen plays a role in these problems, oral hormone replacement with pills doesn’t seem to help. In fact, in some large studies midlife and older women, oral hormone therapy actually made things worse. However, neither type of hormone therapy helps with stress incontinence, which is leakage prompted by physical activity or coughing.

    1 Comment
  • Will exercise help you live long and stay lively?

    by Margery Gass | Sep 14, 2012
    Regular exercise after menopause can help you stay young and live longer. That’s because regular exercise keeps your telomeres long. Ever heard of them? They’re the end caps on chromosomes that get shorter and shorter with age. People—and animals—with longer telomeres look and act younger and live longer than those with shorter ones. You might have heard about telomeres when three scientists won a Nobel Prize in 2009 for their telomere discoveries. Or, you might have seen one of the PBS Scientific American Frontiers episodes with old gray-haired, slow-moving mice next to the sleek, brown, active ones that were really the same age but had longer telomeres. Now, a just-published telomere/exercise study in the NAMS journal Menopause shows you can take a sip from this fountain of youth with regular exercise, which helps keep telomeres long. The postmenopausal women in the study who exercised regularly not only had longer telomeres than women who didn’t exercise, they also had higher levels of adiponectin, which is known to be anti-inflammatory and to help put the brakes on type 2 diabetes and hardening of the arteries. So keep exercising and live long and healthy!

    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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