Monday, December 9, 2013

You Are Healthy, You Don't Have a Disease, You Are in Menopause

No. You do not necessarily need a 'cure' for Menopause. Menopause is the natural condition that a woman enters at a certain stage of life that essentially is a reversal of the Menses, or Menstrual Cycle. It is NOT a disease. Most women don't need hormone therapy and many get through the transition with little or no problems. So, why all the hype? Show me the Money Honey.

There are several reasons the medical community has jumped onboard the Menopause band wagon and most of these can be traced back to profit. Now I know this sounds cynical, but history shows that anything that can be marketed will attract marketers. This includes cures and remedies for all manner of 'ailments' including menopause.

Unless you experienced some severe difficulty like a very small percentage of women when you began your menstrual cycle, I would venture a bet that your trip was to a drug store for sanitary supplies and not to a doctor. Why? Because, as had probably been explained to you by some caring female relation, you only started your period and that it is perfectly natural. In fact, I have some girl friends who were late to start and couldn't wait to finally become women. If we had only known then what we know now, years later. The menstrual cycle, while a natural part of growing up and entering child-bearing age, can be a pain. Literally and socially.

Thankfully we have modern conveniences that make dealing with those few days each month easier, unlike our mothers and grandmothers. I could not believe how my mother had to take care of her cycle. Imagine having to reuse cloth supplies and wash them in between. Back to diapers baby.

And today you can hardly watch a couple of hours of television or listen to the radio without seeing or hearing advertisements telling you that you don't really have to have a period every month. I will be interested to see how that works out in 20 years when someone discovers the harmful side effects of preventing monthly menstruation. Essentially these products induce a short term menopausal effect through hormone manipulation.

Menopause is also being treated as a disease to be treated. Women are waiting longer to start families because they want to solidify careers first. Sometimes the clock stops ticking before they can fulfill those plans. Other times it may be a lack of a suitable partner that prolongs the wait. But, unless there is a real medical issue that is severe enough to disrupt normal lifestyles, we should perhaps avoid always rushing to medicate ourselves.

Some of these reasons might be:

  • Disruptions in sleep over extended periods because of night sweats or hot flashes
  • Extreme changes of mood, especially if these result in violent outbursts
  • Vaginal Dryness that cannot be relieved by natural means and that interferes with relationships
  • Severe Depression and Anxiety

But studies show that very few symptoms are connected to the natural onset of menopause. That is not to say that women who have undergone surgically induced menopause do not benefit from hormonal therapies, however, under normal conditions there are other things you can do the alleviate the symptoms without the side effects of hormone therapy.
All Women should carefully weigh their personal risks and potential benefits before seeking hormone replacement therapies.

Some of the risks associated with hormone replacement therapy may include:

  • Impaired cognitive functions like working or short-term memory and the inhibition of responses like temper.
  • Clinical trials link hormone therapy to an increased risk of breast cancer
  • Breast soreness or tenderness
  • Nausea
  • Symptoms similar to PMS
  • Water retention and bloating
  • Blood Clots
  • Cardiovascular disease and or an increased risk of heart attack
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Irregular bleeding

There are things you can do to reduce irritating symptoms of menopause. Some of these are:

  • TAKE A WALK. Walking is a well-known means of exercise and recent studies indicate that it can also improve brain function, reduce anxiety and depression, and protect against an aging brain. During menopause you may find that your aren't thinking as clearly as you once did or that you are depressed or anxious. This is a natural occurrence with the dwindling hormone levels in your body and the onset of other symptoms that demand your attention, such as hot flashes. Additionally new studies are indicating that a slower exercise like walking as opposed to running or resistance training, may actually be more beneficial to women in menopause.
  • CHECK YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE Studies indicate a link between hot flashes and high blood pressure. If you suffer from high blood pressure try treating that first to see if the hot flashes are reduced. High Blood Pressure is a much more serious condition and one needing attention. You will get through menopause naturally.
  • SEEK HERBAL REMEDIES. While studies are still being conducted on the effectiveness of herbal or natural remedies and vitamin supplements to help with menopausal symptoms you may want to do a little research to see what may be available that can help. HOWEVER, studies have indicated what is called a placebo effect. This is essentially that at least half of women in studies who received a sugar pill instead of a natural or herbal remedy reported symptom relief. This makes me question the need for 'treatments' even further. And Remember, before embarking on a regimen of herbal remedies discuss with your doctor how they may react with any medications you are taking.
  • EAT HEALTHY A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and grains can help your body combat bone loss and maintain a healthy weight. Including soy rich foods such as soymilk and soy nuts can also help. These soy products may act like estrogen in your body, but stay away from pills and powdered forms as the potential risks are not yet known.
  • TALK TO YOUR FAMILY. This seems strange at first glance, but the understanding of family and close friends can be a vital component in your successful transition to the absence of menses and the completion of the menopausal cycle. In most families menopause is one of those topics no one wants to discuss. Perhaps because it is closely associated with aging and we have and probably always will be obsessed with youth, but having a conversation will help your family understand that when you are experiencing some of these troublesome symptoms it might be best to leave you alone or perhaps there is something you find that helps you that they can do.
  • LAUGH, LAUGH, LAUGH SOME MORE When menopause first hit for me I was totally unprepared. We were on a road trip and suddenly I found myself turning the car air off and on. Rolling down the windows and rolling them up. I was moody, overly tired and irritable. It dawned on me that as I had not had a period in some time I might be 'getting the menopause' as my grandmother once told my mother. Well, I am so grateful for my family. As I apologized for my discomfort causing their confusion and explained what I thought was happening my son and husband jumped into their old standby, make her laugh and she'll get over it mode. And you know, it worked. I still had symptoms, but the jokes and the laughter helped me refocus and I was able to take it in stride. The key to this is that you must have a good sense of humor, trust that your family is laughing with you and not at you, and you MUST be able to laugh at yourself.

I am now Post-Menopausal. My last menses was about 9 years ago and frankly I don't miss my monthly visitor at all. I still have an occasional hot flash and once in a while I think my mood is a little erratic, but then again as I often tell my family, I am old enough to have earned the right to be a b-witch on occasion. Laugh. It is a joke, but seriously, In spite of the discomfort of menopausal symptoms I, like about 60% or more women, managed to make it through menopause and come out the other side without the added problems that can be caused by over-medication. After all, there are enough things that can go wrong as we age that I don't want to give anything a helping hand.