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Menopause and Sleep

Not getting enough sleep? Join the crowd. Insomnia is one of the most common complaints of women in menopause. Losing sleep can snowball into real problems -- and you don't have to take this lying down.

Menopause Spotlight10

Menopause

Study confirms combination hormone therapy increases risk of heart disease

Thursday February 18, 2010

A study, recently released in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that combination hormone therapy increases the risk of heart disease in healthy postmenopausal women. Researchers report a trend toward an increased risk of heart disease during the first two years of hormone therapy among women who began therapy within 10 years of menopause, and a more marked elevation of risk among women who began hormone therapy more than 10 years after menopause.

The study was conducted by the Women's Health Initiative, which is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

"Today, most women who take hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms begin therapy shortly after menopause. Based on today's report, even these women appear to be at increased risk of heart disease for several years after starting combination hormone therapy," Susan B. Shurin, M.D., NHLBI acting director told ScienceDaily. "It is clearer than ever that women who are considering postmenopausal hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms should discuss their risk of heart disease and other risks -- such as breast cancer, stroke, and dangerous blood clots -- with their doctors before starting therapy."

Combination hormone therapy includes progestin in combination with estrogen. Adding progestin is known to prevent endometrial cancer in women with a uterus. These new findings do not apply to women who have had a hysterectomy and take estrogen-only hormone therapy. Similar analyses on the results of the clinical trial of estrogen only therapy are planned.

September is Menopause Awareness Month

Monday September 15, 2008
Every woman having hot flashes or mood swings as part of her menopause transition is very aware of menopause. But the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) puts a positive spin on awareness by celebrating Menopause Awareness Month.

Think about it: Menopause is the other parenthesis around our fertility, the first being puberty. We should find a way to mark the occasion for ourselves and our friends. It’s a biological and developmental rite of passage, so let’s get creative about how to celebrate September. You could:

  • Have a “Take a Meno- Pause” party, pausing in your hectic life with some of your women friends. Go out after work, have an afternoon party at your home, or invite fellow "flashers" to sit around the back yard with your feet up, sharing menopause remedies.
  • Get together with women who are past menopause and with some who are not yet there. Share what fertility means to you, or what you like (hate?) about menopause and this time of life.
  • Go to a museum, art gallery or movie that celebrates something about being a woman.
  • Write a letter to your daughter about what you hope she will experience when she goes through menopause and then tuck it away where you can give it to her later. (Or send it.)
  • Sit down with your partner or spouse and make a “beyond menopause” plan for the next 10 years – hopes, dreams, and how to get there.
  • Get tickets for Menopause the Musical and plan on an evening of pure hilarity
  • Schedule a spa day – alone or with female buddies

Whatever you do, pause this month to mark your transition to the next phase of your life. Share your ideas about the best thing about menopause in the forum. Do you have more ideas about how to celebrate? Share them here.

Menopause is a perfect time to think about what's ahead and make it exactly what you want it to be. Use September to mark the transition. Cheers!

(Photo: Barry Austin Photography/Getty Images)

The Low Libido Trio – Sleep, Sweats, and Sadness

Sunday September 7, 2008

During and after menopause women (and their partners) complain that libido seems to be the collateral damage of slumpng hormone levels. Sorting out the “why” and “what to do” is a confusing ride through the research. Most recently we’ve learned that low libido is significantly associated with depression, night sweats, and sleep disturbance. But “associated” does not equal a cause/effect relationship. So while sleep disturbance or night sweats may not cause depression or low libido, women do seem to suffer from them simultaneously.

Teasing out the details of love and libido during menopause and beyond will contribute significantly to the quality of women’s lives and relationships. Whether low hormones turn out to be the common culprit, or whether one symptom provokes or intensifies others, it can only help us if we understand the connections -- treatment could be individualized once we have discovered how one symptom relates to the others. Even knowing that flashes, depression and insomnia travel in the same pack as low libido may lead us to some relief. If you are experiencing this little triad – with or without a drop in libido -- check with your doc. Successfully treating one worrisome symptom may lighten the others.

Photo: Stockbyte/Getty Images

Feeling Anxious? How About a Whiff of Neroli to Calm Your Nerves?

Tuesday September 2, 2008

One of the most distressing menopause symptoms that women report is anxiety (you can check the forum if you want the gory details). A study comparing neroli aromatherapy and Xanax to a no-treatment control group showed that both the aromatherapy group and the Xanax group showed significantly less anxiety than the controls. Unfortunately the test subjects were not menopausal women but gerbils, so how far the results can be applied to your own symptoms is still up in the air. Let’s hope they repeat the experiment – well maybe not that forced swimming task – with menopausal women.

Neroli oil is made from the blossoms of the bitter orange tree, and is used in many perfumes. It is available as an essential oil and 3 or 4 drops can be mixed with a cup of sweet almond or wheat germ oil to make an aromatherapy treatment. (The mixture should be diluted by half for a child or pregnant woman.) Or, as recommended by Cathy Wong, the About.com guide to alternative medicine, you can make a room spray by mixing neroli and lavender and spritzing it in the air. Not a bad idea for your cubicle at work, either.

The great thing about this research is that it is happening at all. Collecting evidence on the natural coping supports available to us makes it possible to manage symptoms without prescription medications or hormones. What harm in trying something as lovely and sensual as aromatherapy? Heck, it’s even recommended for canine types, so put your feet up, invite the pup, and take a deep, deep breath.

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