Menopause

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    A , Family Medicine, answered

    Some plant-based medicines, or botanicals, can be considered for symptoms of menopause. Plants that have levels of estrogen are usually the most widely used. Plants with estrogen levels are called phytoestrogens, and they may actually work as a form of estrogen to relieve some of the symptoms of menopause. Some foods that contain levels of estrogen are soy, whole grains, and beans.

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    There are a number of home remedies that can help bring you relief from hot flashes. Try dressing in layers (of cotton, not synthetics or wool), so you can quickly take a layer off when you get a hot flash. You can also try deep, slow breathing when you get a hot flash. Relaxation techniques you learn through yoga, meditation, or tai chi can help.

    Try to figure out what brings on your hot flashes, whether it’s certain drinks (coffee or tea, for example), the weather (such as when it’s hot outside), stress, or certain foods. Keep ice water handy and a fan nearby. Make sure the temperature in your house or office is cool enough.

    For hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms, some women find relief by going to an acupuncturist, getting enough exercise, drinking plenty of water, not smoking, and avoiding certain types of foods and drinks (such as spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine). Soy products are good to incorporate into your meals, because they might help prevent or decrease hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.

    At night, use cotton sheets on your bed, not silk or a synthetic blend. Also wear cotton pajamas when you sleep, which can make night sweats (hot flashes at night) more tolerable.
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    A , Administration, answered

    Sometimes, changes in ovulation occur in an unpredictable way. Although a woman may be having menstrual periods, she may not ovulate, or she may not have a period for several months and then ovulate. As a result, women may be at risk of an unplanned pregnancy if they assume that they are no longer fertile. For this reason, it is important to use a birth control method until you have not had a period for a year or longer.

    Find out more about this book:

    Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause
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    Menopause is when periods stop completely, but it is confirmed after one year of no periods and therefore only recognized 12 months after the fact. Conceiving, therefore, can't happen during menopause because eggs are no longer being released and the ovaries are no longer releasing hormones that make pregnancy possible. However, perimenopause is "the time around menopause" when periods are irregular and hormone levels are changing. Therefore, it could be possible to still conceive during perimenopause.
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    If you are truly in menopause, which is a permanent end to your periods, then by definition you are infertile. This is because you are no longer producing a monthly egg. You should consult a physician to ensure that you are truly in menopause because there are other reasons to stop having your monthly cycle, and if this is the case, then there may be a chance that you could still conceive.
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    Many women with diabetes find they are more prone to vaginitis and yeast infections once they enter menopause. Yeast and bacteria can irritate the vaginal lining if they grow out of control. They thrive in warm, moist places with a good supply of food (glucose).

    Even before menopause, you are more likely to develop yeast infections when your blood glucose levels are high. After menopause, the risk increases. That’s because estrogen normally nourishes and supports the vaginal lining. Without it, yeast and bacteria have an easier time growing. These infections are not related to sexual activity or personal hygiene.

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    A answered
    Women’s risk for heart disease climbs after menopause. In the recent past, women were prescribed hormone replacement therapy to restore estrogen levels, as it was theorized that women’s risk of heart disease increased because of the natural drop in estrogen during menopause. However, estrogen supplementation has since proven to have no effect on heart health, and combination therapies of estrogen and progesterone may actually increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.

    So, if estrogen may not be the root cause of women’s increased risk for heart disease after menopause, what is behind it? Here are some factors that in combination may be behind heart disease risk increases in postmenopausal women:

    •    Cholesterol. LDL, or bad, cholesterol rises as much as 10 percent in the years before and after menopause begins.
    •    Iron after menopause. Postmenopausal women no longer lose iron when they menstruate. That iron builds up in organs such as the heart and increases the risk of heart disease. Women should check with a doctor to see if they should continue to take iron after menopause.
    •    Blood pressure after menopause. Watch for increases in blood pressure after menopause. Some studies have shown an increase of three times what it was before menopause.
    •    Early menopause. Whether it occurs naturally or as a result of surgery, menopause before age 40 is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, according to the Women's Heart Foundation.
     
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    A answered
    The health risks associated with menopause include the following:
    • thyroid problems, such as hypothyroidism (low thyroid), which can cause fatigue, weight gain and depression
    • diabetes, which can contribute to heart disease
    • cancer, particularly of the breast and colon
    • bladder infections
    • continence problems
    • gastrointestinal problems such as diverticulosis, in which small pouches bulge from weak spots in the colon and can cause cramps, bloating and constipation
    • hiatal hernia, a painful condition in which the intestine slips through a weak spot of the abdominal wall
    It's always a good idea to ask a healthcare professional about any physical or emotional changes. Some are typical to this life stage, while others may need more serious consideration.
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    Research from the WHI Estrogen-plus-Progestin study has shown that women taking combined hormone therapy had the following benefits: One-third lower risk of colorectal cancer than women taking the placebo. In absolute terms, this meant 10 cases of colorectal cancer per 10,000 women per year who took hormone therapy compared with 16 cases of colorectal cancer per 10,000 women per year who took the placebo. In the initial study report, women taking combined hormone therapy had a lower risk of colorectal cancer than women who took the placebo.However, the colorectal tumors that arose in the combined hormone therapy group were more advanced at detection than those in the placebo group. There was no difference in either the risk of colorectal cancer or the stage of disease at diagnosis between women who took estrogen alone and those who took the placebo. However, a subsequent analysis of the WHI trials found no strong evidence that either estrogen alone or estrogen plus progestin had any effect on the risk of colorectal cancer, tumor stage at diagnosis, or death from colorectal cancer.

    This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Weight gain during and after menopause feels like cruel and unusual punishment after all those hot flashes. But we need to be myth busters first: Menopause and weight gain don’t always go hand in hand. Some women gain little or no weight at all during and after menopause, while others gain enough that their risk for cardiovascular disease becomes dangerously high. But how much weight you’ve gained isn’t the only factor. Where you carry that extra padding matters, too. If you gain body fat in the abdomen (you know a muffin top, beer belly, love handles), then you are at greater risk for inflammatory diseases like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, memory loss, impotence, joint abnormalities, and cancer. But if you gain body fat around your hips (magazines call this pear-shaped), then you are less likely to get these diseases. Bottom line: Weight gain can lead to some scary diseases, so keep eating right, getting your 10,000 steps a day, and managing your stress (as best you can).
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