Menopause Information

 

The simple dictionary definition of menopause is:
"Cessation of menstruation in the human female, occurring usually around the age of 50". The term "menopause" includes different stages, perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. Menopause is also referred to as the "Change of Life", the period in the life of a woman when menstruation and the capacity for conception cease, usually occurring typically between forty-five and fifty years of age.
A woman is considered to be in menopause when her menstrual periods have stopped for a full 12 months. Some women experience their "change of life" as early as age 35, and others will experience this change as late as age 60.
Naturally, menopause occurs as a result of aging, but can happen early as a result of certain illnesses such as eating disorders, cancer, thyroid disease, and problems associated with the pituitary gland. Some medications can produce side effects that can bring on menopause.
The two most notable signs of menopause, along with the missing periods are hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
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Perimenopause (or premenopause) is the three to five year period before a woman reaches menopause. At this time, estrogen and progesterone levels begin to drop, causing changes in a woman's menstrual cycles such as irregular, heavy, or missed periods . Other symptoms that may begin to occur, are mood swings, depression, inability to sleep through the night, fatigue, and short-term memory loss, and most notably hot flashes and irregular menstrual periods.
Postmenopause (commonly referred to as menopause) is the period following the 12 months of cessation of a woman's menstrual cycle. During this phase, symptoms typically subside, however, some women continue to experience certain symptoms related to hormonal imbalance. The most notable symptoms during postmenopause are vaginal dryness, bladder disorders and osteoporosis.
Fibroid tumors in the uterus are sensitive to estrogen in the body. The more estrogen, or estrogen like (xenoestrogen) substances in your body, the more the fibroids will grow. 30-50 percent of the women over the age of 30 in the United States have fibroid tumors. These are benign growths (which means that they are not cancerous) within the muscular walls of the uterus. Most women never know they have fibroids, most are found incidentally upon routine examination of the uterus. Fibroids aren't necessarily a health risk, they very rarely are cancerous, and unless they are causing extreme amount of bleeding, or infertility the fibroids don't necessarily need to be surgically removed, and if they do, it isn't always necessary to remove the uterus. See Progesterone cream.
The Brain and Estrogen
It seems as though low doses of Estradiol (our own weakest estrogen, and the one most prominent in older women) is protective to brain function. One of the most common complaints of pre and post menopausal women is the "foggy thinking", this is most likely due to the lower estrogen in our systems.
Estradiol can be found in an over the counter cream, or by prescription from your medical doctor as Vivelle.

References:
1.
Yue X et al, "Brain estrogen deficiency accelerates Abeta plaque formation in an Alzheimer's disease animal model, " Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci, Dec. 27, 2005.

2. Wise PM, "Estrogen therapy: does it help or hurt the adult and aging brain? Insights derived from animal models," Neuroscience, Nov. 28, 2006.

3. Goodman Y et al, "Estrogens attenuate and Corticosterone exacerbates excitotoxicity, oxidative injury and amyloid beta-peptide toxicity in hippocampal neurons," J. Neurochem. 66:1996.

The Brain and Progesterone

Progesterone given within 11 hours of the injury has shown to be very helpful, not only for the brain, but for overall survival rate (from 30 - 50%). And, significant functional improvement was found in those using progesterone.

Other researchers found that using progesterone may limit damage from strokes (caused by a blood clot).

Researchers are showing that progesterone may be protective to the brain in regard to Alzheimer's. They also state that the synthetic progestins do not have the same protective effect; in fact they even inhibit estrogen's natural protection.

References:
1. Neuropharmacology, November 2006
2. Pharmacol Biochem. Behavior, July 2006
3. Exp. Neurol, August 2006
4. Ann Emerg. Med, April 2006
5. Singh, M. Ann. N.Y. Accad. Sci. 1052, 2005

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Common Symptoms of Menopause*
  • Hot flashes, night sweats, and/or cold flashes
  • Bouts of rapid heartbeat
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings, sudden tears
  • Trouble sleeping through the night
  • Irregular menstrual periods: shorter, lighter or heavier periods, flooding, and phantom periods
  • Loss of libido(sexual drive)
  • Dry vagina (results in painful intercourse)
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety, feeling ill at ease
  • Feelings of dread, apprehension, and doom
  • Difficulty concentrating, disorientation, and mental confusion.
  • Disturbing memory lapses
  • Incontinence, especially upon sneezing, laughing
  • Itchy, crawly skin (feeling of ants crawling under the skin, not just dry, itchy skin)
  • Aching, sore joints, muscles and tendons. (May include such problems as carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Increased tension in muscles
  • Breast tenderness
  • Gastrointestinal distress, indigestion, flatulence, gas pain, nausea
  • Sudden bouts of bloat
  • Depression (the inability to cope is overwhelming, there is a feeling of a loss of self)
*Please note: Some of the above symptoms can also be symptoms of other disorders or diseases.


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This list of the signs of peri-menopause and menopause was developed by women on the Internet 'Menopaus' mailing list, based at St. John's University. The list is based on the real life experiences of these women. All symptoms appearing on the list were experienced by numerous women and were either cyclical in nature, or responded to treatments (both traditional and alternative) known to address hormonal imbalances.
The electronic mailing list has approximately 675 subscribers, with about 230 participating actively at the time the list of menopause signs was developed in January 1996

The women who directly contributed text and/or ideas to this list of signs are:

Judy Bayliss - founder & owner of the Menopause mailing list
jbayliss@paonline.com

Lucy L. Brown, PH.D.
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Bronx NY 10461
brown@aecom.yu.edu

Jean Bauer Graciela Spivak Miriam Biddleman
Joan Starker Susan Ariew Bonnie Dreps Voigtlander
Krista Glickman Susan Jessen Roberta J. Leon
Susan Klee Betty Clark Jennifer Hesketh Aviles
Christine Cody Keri webb  

 

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