Posts Tagged "symptoms"

Timing is everything

Posted by on Mar 16, 2009 in estrogen, hot flash, menopause, nightsweats | 0 comments

Headache, irritability and mood swings….they’re going to disappear someday. Promise.

Research findings show that certain symptoms commonly linked with menopause decline linearly, meaning that as you move through the transition, those bothersome symptoms will move with you and then gradually diminish. Phew!

A study that appeared in Obstetrics & Gynecology early last year showed a direct association between menopausal symptoms and reproductive hormones at any given time during the menopause. Researchers evaluated menstrual bleeding patterns, symptoms and levels of estradiol, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and testosterone in women over a nine-year period. Stages of menopause were analyzed based on bleeding patterns. All women underwent structured interviews, completed symptoms questionnaires and were followed for bleeding dates and hormone measures.

The results showed that headache was significantly associated with stage of menopause, declining in the pre- to postmenopause transition. Mood swings and irritability were both associated with declining FSH levels. Additional analyses also revealed a link between PMS, perceived stress and all three of these symptoms (i.e. headache, irritability and mood swings).

So what about other symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats and depression? A small percentage of women may have to deal with them a bit longer. In fact, data suggest that they may persist well into the postmenopausal period although the reasons are not entirely clear.

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Talking the talk: hormone therapy

Posted by on Feb 23, 2009 in health, general, HRT | 2 comments

Is your healthcare provider more or less likely to suggest hormone therapy (HT, estrogen only) when you see them for menopausal symptoms? What’s more, how do you know?

Results of a study in the Ahead of Print edition of the journal Menopause suggest that certain factors do influence prescriber habits.

Researchers measured how often 249 primary care (i.e. internists and family practitioners) and ob/gyns prescribed HT to their patients (ages 45 to 80) in a given year based on electronic pharmacy data. In addition to examining information on the providers themselves, data on perceptions of patients’ views on the Women’s Health Initiative trial results (WHI, which examined the link between HRT and heart disease), provider views on the WHI study and how prepared they felt to counsel patients were also analyzed. 57% of the providers in the study were women.

The findings? How often HT was prescribed appeared to vary by geographical location and the number of years a provider had been at a specific organization (which may reflect the age of the provider). More than half of those surveyed believed that they had expert knowledge about data coming out of recent HT trials.

In fact, primary care providers who felt that they had this degree of knowledge were significantly more likelier than their colleagues who did not to recommend hormone therapy.  In contrast, ob/gyns who were more likely to prescibe HT were those who believed that they well prepared to counsel their female patients on hormone therapy. These practitioners also tended to believe that the results of the trials had been exaggerated.

Regardless of specialty,  younger patients and patients who did not have other diseases that may exacerbate risk were most often prescribed HT.

So, what do these study results mean exactly?

The researchers write that HT prescribing may be “driven by factors outside of evidence-based medicine,” such as prescriber self-perception and age. If this is true, then the lack of provider bias could potentially influence prescribing habits and in turn, exposure to HT.

As the researchers say, “women, who when inquiring about HT risk and benefits, deserve unbiased and well informed counseling to make informed decisions.” And that it “is likely that some doctors need additional training to ensure this level of advice.”

For you, this means to be sure to be prepared when you make that first appointment to discuss therapeutic options for troublesome menopausal symptoms. Do the homework before you enter your provider’s office so that you are ready to ask the right questions.

In addition to the link provided above, which discusses the WHI data in detail, I encourage you to visit the following sites for unbiased information about menopause and its treatment:

Women to Women

Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Health E Woman

Consumer Reports Health.Org

The bottom line is that if your provider is talking the talk, be sure that you know why you’re going to walk the walk.

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News Flash! HR 584

Posted by on Feb 19, 2009 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

I just learned that Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) is sponsoring a new legislation (HR-584) that would provide  “for coverage of hormone replacement therapy for treatment of menopausal symptoms, and for coverage of an alternative therapy for hormone replacement therapy for such symptoms, under the Medicare and Medicaid Programs, group health plans and individual health insurance coverage, and other Federal health insurance programs.”

This is huge. I’m tracking it down to see if I can learn more. If you have any additional information, write to me at

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Poor man’s plastic surgery, and even better!

Posted by on Feb 9, 2009 in breast cancer, exercise | 5 comments

Exercise! Benefits aside, loved this poster! But that’s not the reason for this post.

Not only can exercise help improve mood and keep bones strong during menopause, but it appears that physical activity after menopause may help to lower the risk for breast cancer. Yet another reason to keep moving that body of yours.

German researchers evaluated the health records from 3,414 postmenopausal women who were participating in a study on breast cancer. Physical activity (sports, cycling, walking) was assessed during two periods — ages 30 to 49 and over age 50 — and compared to non-recreational physical activity (occupational, household activities).

Study findings showed that physically active women had a .71 lower odds of developing breast estrogen and progesterone receptor positive breast cancer. A similar effect was not seen on estrogen/progesterone receptor negative cancers.

Notably, these results remained even after the researchers took into account weight gain, body mass index and caloric intake, leading the researchers to conclude that continuing to be active after menopause may help to reduce the risk of developing certain breast cancers. This effect appears to be related to specific hormonal pathways and not body composition.

The study was published in the December 1 issue of Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Strong motivation to keep moving, right?!

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More on soy

Posted by on Feb 6, 2009 in colon cancer | 2 comments

I’ve posted several times about the potential effectiveness of soy isoflavones for safely relieving certain symptoms such as hot flashes. You can find those posts here.

Evidence now suggests that the benefits of soy may extend beyond troublesome menopause symptoms.  In fact, it appears that eating soy foods may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer after menopause.

In this study, published in February’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers examined 68,412 women (ages 40 to 70) who were cancer- and diabetes-free at the start of the trial. Information on soy food intake was assessed at the start and then at follow up through in-person interviews and questionnaires.

Over the entire study, 321 colorectal cancer cases were identified. However, after adjusting any factors that might skew the results, the researchers found that:

  • Total soy food intake was associated with a lower risk for developing colorectal cancer
  • For each 5 gram increase daily in soy foods (~1 oz tofu), there was an 8% reduction in cancer risk
  • The association between intake of soy foods and lowered colorectal cancer risk was mostly seen in post-menopausal women

Similar results were also observed for soy protein intake and isoflavones.

These promising findings suggest the potential to not only glean benefit from eating soy-rich foods during menopause but also well beyond menopause. Encouraging news!

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