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  • Is there a relationship between menopause and cancer?

    by Margery Gass | Oct 08, 2014
    No, menopause itself doesn’t increase the risk of cancer. Cancers are more common as people age, however. Most cancers occur in people age 55 and older. The cancer most women are concerned about is breast cancer and whether hormone therapy increases the risk. Women with a uterus, who need to use a progestogen in addition to an estrogen, have some increased breast cancer risk after3 to 5 years of taking these hormones. Women who have had a hysterectomy who can use estrogen alone show no increased risk after 7 years. Keep in mind that many other things affect breast cancer risk, including your genes, your weight, and your lifestyle. Hormone therapy can also play a role in uterine cancer. If you have a uterus and don’t take, or don’t take enough, progestogen with it, that can increase the risk. If you have any menstrual-like bleeding after menopause, see your healthcare provider about it. The risk of colon cancer, the most common cause of cancer death in both women and men, increases with age, and combined hormone therapy may lower the risk for women. But for this cancer, too, many other things affect your risk, including genetics, weight, and lifestyle. If you are at average risk, you should have a colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 50.
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  • Invitation to women with low desire and sexual dysfunction

    by Margery Gass | Sep 23, 2014

    The time has come. This is your opportunity to discuss your concerns and to share your thoughts on the need for treatment with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There have been many products brought to market over the last 15 years for male sexual dysfunction, but we still have nothing for women.

    The most common female sexual dysfunction is female sexual interest/arousal disorder, often referred to as “low desire” or “low libido.” The FDA wants to hear from women who have this condition. How does it affect your life? What is the most distressing aspect of it? Has anything helped?

    On October 27, 2014, the FDA is holding a Patient-Focused Drug Development public meeting on Female Sexual Dysfunction in Silver Springs, Maryland. You can apply to appear in person or submit your comments online. Webcast participants will also have an opportunity to provide input through webcast comments. A panel of patients and patient advocates will present comments to start the dialogue, followed by a facilitated discussion with all patients and patient representatives in the audience. I will be there in person in the audience to hear your comments, and I will also be participating on the scientific panel the following day.

    All parts of the event are free but you must register online and by October 20, 2014. For event details and to learn more visit Eventbrite: Patient-Focused Drug Development Public Meeting and Scientific Workshop on Female Sexual Dysfunction event page.

    For more information, refer to the FDA meeting website.

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  • How can I find a menopause specialist?

    by Margery Gass | Sep 18, 2014

    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 Certified Menopause Practitioner are noted in the displayed results.

    Find a Menopause Practitioner now

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  • Does menopause cause moodiness and depression?

    by Margery Gass | Sep 04, 2014

    In recent years we have learned that menopause may increase the occurrence of clinical depression in some women, especially those women who have had depression in the past. Some perimenopausal women report symptoms of tearfulness and mood swings that resolve on their own once the transition is completed. Sleep deprivation associated with night sweats often results in fatigue, irritability, and moodiness. Abrupt hormonal fluctuations during perimenopause may also have an impact on these symptoms, much like PMS. During the reproductive years, most women become accustomed to their own hormonal rhythm. During perimenopause this rhythm changes, and the erratic hormonal ups and downs—although normal—can create a sense of loss of control that can be upsetting. Some women, however, may experience clinical depression.

    Coping skills and lifestyle changes are often not sufficient to relieve clinical depression. It is important to discuss all of these symptoms with a healthcare provider who can provide assistance, discuss options, and prescribe appropriate treatment. If your provider does not offer this service, ask for a referral to a professional who does.

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  • Do you need a yearly pelvic exam?

    by Margery Gass | Aug 22, 2014

    Some medical societies are calling into question the annual pelvic exam, at least for those women who have no symptoms and are not pregnant. As you might expect, this topic is being hotly debated.  

    Those in favor of annual screening pelvic exams argue that sometimes there are abnormalities found in women who have no symptoms. Those opposed to the yearly exam counter that the pelvic exam is not helpful in detecting ovarian cancer or  bacterial vaginosis, and was not associated with improved health outcomes or reduction of ovarian cancer mortality rates. They further point out that women can now screen themselves for the common sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea in the privacy of their own homes.

    Harms of testing included false positives, unnecessary surgical procedures, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, pain, and discomfort – particularly for women with a history of sexual violence and/or post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Pelvic exams should be tailored to what is in the best interest of each individual woman. Most women do not need a pelvic exam every year but should be sure to see a healthcare provider if they have a new problem or concern. It is important to remember that screening for cervical cancer (with a pap smear, cervical cytology or high risk human papilloma virus test) is still recommended. That is a separate and important issue. The timing interval for cervical cancer screening depends on your age and the findings on your last pap smear.

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  • What are hot flashes?

    by Margery Gass | Aug 20, 2014
    The most common menopause-related discomfort is the hot flash (sometimes called a hot flush). Although their exact cause still isn’t fully understood, hot flashes are thought to be the result of changes in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates the body’s temperature. If the hypothalamus mistakenly senses that a woman is too warm, it starts a chain of events to cool her down. Blood vessels near the surface of the skin begin to dilate (enlarge), increasing blood flow to the surface in an attempt to dissipate body heat. This produces a red, flushed look to the face and neck in light-skinned women. It may also make a woman perspire to cool the body down. The heart may beat faster, and women may sense that rapid heartbeat.  A cold chill often follows a hot flash. A few women experience only the chill. Hot flashes typically stop on their own and may not require any treatment. Treatment, if you need it, can reduce or eliminate hot flashes completely.
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  • How can I stay healthy after menopause?

    by Margery Gass | Jul 16, 2014
    Get the checkups you need and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The risks of osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer all rise after menopause. Most women visit their primary care doctor or gynecologist once a year for a “well-woman visit,” which insurance now covers with no co-pay. Even height, weight, and blood pressure checks at your visit reveal a lot about your health risks, and you and your healthcare team can discuss other tests you might need, such as cholesterol measurements, PAP tests, and mammograms. Physical inactivity, obesity, and unhealthy eating, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. The evidence continues to grow that getting active, losing excess weight, and healthy habits can reduce these risks.
    Go comment!
  • Women reap big benefits from healthy lifestyle changes

    by Margery Gass | Jun 12, 2014

    Diet and exercise can keep prediabetes from turning into diabetes, but it also does much more for women. It also prevents heart disease and reduces deaths. These were findings of a very long (23 years!) study in Da Qing, China, of people who had prediabetes. A group of them went through a 6-year program of diet and exercise. For those who were overweight or obese, the diet was designed for weight loss, and those who were normal weight just reduced their simple carb and alcohol consumption. In the group that went through the program, only 73% had diabetes develop compared with 90% of those who just had standard medical care. The rates of diabetic eye disease were also significantly lower in those who participated in the intensive lifestyle change program. In addition, the number of deaths from heart disease and deaths overall were also lower—for women. After menopause, women with prediabetes are more prone to developing type 2 diabetes, but this study shows that women can stave it off and reap huge benefits as a result. Not only will they stave off diabetes but also heart disease, eye disease, and other killers. Women around the world can take advantage of this good news!

    1 Comment

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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. 

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