What You Need To Know About Menopause & Hot Flashes
For our readers who are entering menopause, there are probably both physical and emotionally changes you are noticing as your body undergoes the huge shift of exiting your fertile years. We spoke to Dr. Mache Seibel, Ob/Gyn, member of the Harvard Medical Faculty, editor of HotYearsMag.com and author of the best-selling book, The Estrogen Fix about what to expect during menopause, and how to combat those pesky and inconvenient hot flashes.
What causes a woman to enter menopause?
There are many reasons a women enters menopause. The most common is that her ovaries naturally stop working, which typically happens at a mean age of 51 but can occur in up to ten percent of women before age 45. A large second reason is due to surgery by removing both ovaries. Other reasons include, medical treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation, genetic conditions that cause the ovaries to prematurely age, or some medical diagnosis such as endometriosis can cause the ovaries to stop functioning early.
How does a woman know she’s officially entered menopause?
The typical to know you are in menopause is that your periods stop for more than 12 months. Occasionally that can be due to other causes. A blood test for the hormone FSH that is elevated in combination with 12 months of no periods is the best way. Most women also have symptoms along with these findings. Hot flashes, mood swings, brain fog, vaginal dryness, weight gain, bloating, sensitive bladder are common ones.
What can you do to ease the discomfort as your hormones change during menopause?
This question to be answered fully would be a book. In fact, I have written one called The Estrogen Fix that explains how to take hormones for menopause safely, and what the alternatives are if you either can’t or don’t want to take hormones. Generally speaking, to ease the discomfort in menopause, you’ve got to take care of the SUM of you and not just SOME of you. That means treating your body, mind and spirit. Exercise regularly, eat healthy, get enough sleep and lower your stress. Estrogen can be taken safely and is the most effective treatment for almost all menopause symptoms. But there are also alternative prescription medications and some over the counter remedies that can be helpful. The most important thing is to work with your healthcare provider to get treatment. There is no need to suffer when there are so many options for easing the pain and suffering.
What causes hot flashes? How can you combat them?
Hot flashes are common and they can be extremely uncomfortable and disruptive. Estrogen therapy is the best treatment for hot flashes, There are also other medications now available as prescriptions. One is an SSRI called Brisdelle that is FDA approved for hot flashes. Hydration, moderate exercise and foods such as soy and flaxseed have been shown helpful. I have a one hour course on this topic if interested that is under $20 called HotFlashRescueKit.com that explains how to go about treatment to get help from your provider.
What can you do to improve your sex life if your sex drive is waning or you experience dryness during intercourse?
Sex problems are one of the most common symptoms associated with menopause. Low hormones can cause poor sleep, poor mood and poor self-esteem. Low hormones can also cause vaginal dryness and lower libido. There are a number of prescription products that can help vaginal dryness, including vaginal estrogen and vaginal DHEA. Many women also find relief from over the counter products such as Replens, which is non- hormonal.