Enjoy Your Menopause!

January 4, 2010

Baby Boomer Women, Menopause and Memory

Some of us joke about not being able to find or remember things during menopause but have you ever stopped to wonder if you could be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or some other dementia? Do you worry that you are losing your memory, and don’t know what to do about it?

One mental health expert offers these 5 tips to help keep your brain and memory active as you age:

#1. Increase your Fitness

Every time you move your body and raise your heart rate, it increases blood flow to the brain and produces endorphins. Not only are endorphins 50 times more potent than any pain medication, but they also help you feel better. A happier and calmer mind produces lower amounts of the stress hormone, cortisol ( found in high quantities in Alzheimer’s disease). When your mind is quiet, you will retrieve information from your brain more easily. Your immune system is stronger, minimizing your risk of developing degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Doing a variety of activities – at least 30 minutes, 5-7 days a week – stimulates brain growth, reduces boredom and keeps injury rate down.

#2 Good Nutrition

Do you ever hear the expression…”you are what you eat’?

While researching natural remedies for my rising blood sugars and pressure, I discovered that low-glycemic carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, grains) are key. They reduce sugar crashes, and cravings throughout the day; stabilize moods; boosts energy, and takes away the ‘fuzzy’ mind at the end of a work day. To maintain a constant energy level, eat smaller meals and snacks 5 times a day.

The brain requires a balance of:

1. carbohydrates for energy;
2. good fats (omega 3- salmon, almonds, avocados) to nourish brain tissue (brain is 60% fat by solid weight);
3. protein (lean meats, soy, legumes, nuts) for balancing blood sugars, and building our neurotransmitters – serotonin and dopamine, for mood control. High fiber foods-grains and nuts – are also critical.

The debate over nutritional supplements is ongoing. More research is supporting the benefits of a good multivitamin/mineral to reduce oxidative stresses and to fill the gaps in our diet. Ginkgo biloba, which increases blood flow to the brain, has also been suggested.

Did you know that the brain is 80% water? By drinking 6-10 glasses of water throughout the day, you will feel less fatigue and ‘foggy’ brain moments. Limiting coffee (dehydrating) to 1-2 cups/day, and alcohol, which damages brain tissue, are a good idea.

#3 Brain Exercises

Our brain has a ‘plasticity’ switch – very active in children. When you learn new skills and tasks, it increases the activity in the hippocampus or memory areas. Adults have a tendency to develop routines – drive the same way to work, have tedious jobs, regular daily habits etc.

Turning on this plasticity switch is as easy as brushing your hair or teeth with non-dominant hand; playing a new sport; taking music lessons or using your creativity in a craft. Other ways to stimulate brain cells – puzzles (crosswords, Sudoku, jigsaw); doing simple math, such as mentally adding up your grocery bill while standing in a line-up, or counting backwards from 100 by 2; reading; playing cards; board games…the list is endless.

#4 Meditate, Yoga, Journal

Calming your mind allows you to live in the ‘present’ moment. There are no worries in this moment, allowing you to feel happier and seeing more of the beauty around you.

Meditating (10-20 minutes/day) is relaxing and clears the pathways for information to flow through your mind effortlessly.

Yoga teaches deep, diaphragmatic breathing – increasing oxygen supply to your body and improving lymph flow, which carries away toxins.

Gratitude journal (writing 5 things you are grateful for every day) helps to focus more on the ‘abundance’ in your life. According to the Universal Law of Attraction – whatever you predominantly think about, you will attract more of it.

#5 Have Fun – Laugh

More than once, I have heard that I am the average of the 5 people whom I spend the most time with. Everyone emits energy – some people are more positive than others. If you want to feel happier and energized, spend time with friends who are more optimistic, and fun to be with. It is refreshing to watch children play and laugh. Why do we have to give that up just because we are grown-ups?

Laughing releases endorphins…happy mind = healthy brain.

It is difficult not to continue writing more tips – such as sleeping 6-8 hours/night (I couldn’t resist adding another one) – but I will save those for another time. The number of baby boomers diagnosed with early onset (before age 65) Alzheimer’s and dementia is rising steadily every year. The good news…research and personal experience are showing that, regardless of our age, we can do something to raise the lid on our brain’s potential.

It takes 21 days to establish a habit. Why not start weaving some of these tips into your life today?

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March 28, 2009

Menopause Blamed for Crime Spree

Filed under: Uncategorized — Beverly Mahone @ 9:58 pm
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A woman in the United Kingdom blamed menopause as the reason behind her stealing thousands of dollars from elderly residents.

The 51-year-old post office assistant told police she didn’t need the money and the only reason that could be found for her dishonesty was she was going through menopause.

She was quoted as saying, “Whenever I do it, I feel guilty. Still I do it. I don’t know why. I was telling God as well.”

This menopause crime mama was convicted of stealing from four victims between the ages of 65 and 94 from January 2007 to May 2008.  Instead of getting some jail time, the judge decided to show her mercy by ordering her to do 240 hours of unpaid work and pay court costs.

Question:  Did the judge let her off too lightly?  

January 27, 2009

Vaginal Dryness

Vaginal dryness is one of the symptoms of menopause but did you also know if can also manifest as a result of diabetes?  Vaginal dryness can also be caused by a chemical allergy to certain soaps, hygiene products, perfume and dyes.

As we age, it becomes even more important to take care of our genitals to help guard against further irritation or complications from the initial dryness. Here are some helpful tips on how to manage vaginal dryness:

Use mild materials when washing
As what has been mentioned above, the most commonly reported cause of vaginal dryness is the use of harsh vaginal wash. If this is the exact reason for your genital dryness, changing to a milder wash can help relieve the dryness. Using plain, warm water can also help restore moisture.

Use water-based lubricants
If vaginal dryness is interfering with your sex life, using water-based lubricants can increase vaginal comfort. It is important to note that you need to make sure that the lubricant is water-based, water-soluble, and contains just the right pH balance that is equal to that of normal body fluid. Note that the pH balance helps prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms such as yeast.

Use moisturizing creams
Although mild vaginal wash helps keep the vagina clean and lubricants help during intercourse, using a mild, formulated vaginal moisturizing cream will help improve the health of vaginal tissues and moisturize the vagina for a longer time. Some formulas help replenish declining estrogen levels in menopausal women. These creams are applied two to three times a week at equally spaced intervals.  According to my good friend Pam Archer, Vitamin E creams work very well.

Vaginal dryness can be a serious issue if not addressed openly and honestly with your partner.

January 25, 2009

Let’s Talk About Sex & Menopause

If you’ve been a reader of my blogs for awhile, you’ll know I’m NOT shy.  I believe it’s important to talk about the issues—no matter how controversial or sensitive they might be.

In an earlier post, my good friend Rosie a.k.a. BloggingBetty (on Twitter) asked me had I written anything about sex as it related to menopause.  Actually, I’ve written a couple of articles:  Middle Age & Intimacy and Not Tonight Honey, I’m All Dried Up.

Sex can be a serious issue when it comes to menopause.  Why?  The lining of your vagina becomes drier and thinner during the menopause. It makes less mucus (the fluid that keeps your vagina moist and healthy). This can cause dryness and itching. Because it is drier, your vagina is more at risk of becoming infected or inflamed, and the vaginal tissue is more likely to tear.

If your vagina is dry, you may find that sex is painful. The outside part of your sexual organs, called the vulva, may also become drier and thinner. These changes are caused by a drop in the levels of estrogen that your ovaries make.  If you’re in menopause and ever experienced bleeding after sex, it is probably due to a tear in the vaginal tissue.

This is a subject some women feel uncomfortable discussing with their husbands but I say if you want to continue to enjoy a healthy and happy sex life, you owe it to your partner to discuss your body changes and get him to work with you on making your intimacy enjoyable and painless.

So now let me ask you this:  Do you honestly think you can discuss vaginal dryness with your husband?  Will he be receptive and understanding

January 17, 2009

Where’s a Hot Flash When You Need One?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Beverly Mahone @ 4:47 am
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I was expecting it.  I was actually looking forward to it—but not once did I experience a hot flash while spending the last three days in Michigan. 

I went to Detroit for a Marketing Conference.  It was definitely a time for “sweating it out” due to the intensity of going up against others who were equally knowledgeable and gifted in the same field.

It would’ve been perfect timing to break out in a hot sweat!  After all, I was in a State where the temperature struggled daily to reach double digits and there was enough snow to keep me dreaming of a White Christmas. 

This was the kind of weather menopausal women like me long for because my body could’ve gotten some much needed relief from that never-ended personal summer of mine!

But no such luck.  It seems as though my hormones were perfectly content to experience the sub zero temperatures on the outside and INSIDE.  Menopause was not going to allow me to use it as an excuse to act out or succumb to its other wiles.

But maybe it wasn’t a hot flash I really needed after all.  CONFIDENCE is always my trump card!

January 10, 2009

Bleeding During Menopause

One of the clear signs that you’re in full blown menopause is when your periods stop.  That’s what the doctor tells us, right?  Well that may not be necessarily so.  True, your menstruation cycle does stop, however, bleeding may not. 

 

According to my gynecologist, Dr. Katrina Avery (who is not only my doctor but also my friend) there are other reasons you may experience bleeding. 

 

 

As you enter menopause, the decline in your body’s estrogen levels can cause tissues lining the vagina to become thin, dry, and less elastic. Sometimes this lining can become broken or easily inflamed and bleed. It can also become injured during sex or even during a pelvic exam.

 

Once you’ve reached menopause, though, you should report any bleeding that you have to your HCP. Uterine bleeding after menopause could be a sign of other health problems. Other things that can cause abnormal bleeding include:

  • fibroids
  • the use of birth control pills
  • a hormonal imbalance
  • non-cancerous growths in the lining of the uterus

It’s your body and your health so don’t hesitate to take care of it and enjoy your menopause!

December 16, 2008

Hot Flashes not be Menopause-Related

I had an appointment this morning with my gynecologist, Dr. Katrina Avery.  I was telling her how my hot flashes felt like they were intensifying and she told me something I didn’t know.

She said your hot flashes aren’t always related to menopause.  A thyroid disorder can also trigger them.  I suffer from Hypothyroidism in addition to being in full-blown menopause.  

According to information from the New York Thyroid Center, Hypothyroidism occurs most frequently in women entering menopause, which typically occurs in their late 40s and early 50s. However, women with hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism may have an earlier onset, or premature, menopause (occurring before age 40) with infrequent or absent periods. Often symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as irregular or absent menses, heat intolerance, “hot flashes,” insomnia, and mood swings may overlap with and be confused with symptoms of menopause.

If you suffer from hot flashes and you’re too young to be in menopause, it’s best to get your thyroid checked and then discuss with your doctor the best course of treatment.    But remember this, if hot flashes don’t interfere with your life, you don’t need treatment. If you choose to take medication or a supplement to help ease your symptoms, periodically re-evaluate your need for continuing it. For most women, hot flashes fade gradually and require no treatment.

You know what? I have a very smart doctor who takes really good care of me.

December 12, 2008

Smoke Now Pay Later

For the past couple of years, I’ve been blaming the pudge around my waisteline on menopause.  Everything I’ve read indicates menopause is a culprit that causes weight gain as the result of a slower metabolism.

But today I am learning that menopause may not be the lone cause for middle-age spread.

According to a report released today out of Finland,  teen smokers are more likely to experience obesity as adults.  Even though I didn’t smoke as a teenager, I did pick up the nasty habit in my early late 20s and continued until my early 40s.   

According to the Finland study, girls who smoke 10 cigarettes per day or more are at greatest risk, particularly for abdominal obesity. Their waist sizes are 1.34 inches larger than nonsmokers’ waists are as young adults.  

But smoking in adolescence did not necessarily predict weight problems for men, according to the study.

Scientists know a correlation exists between women’s weight and smoking,  but they don’t know why smoking doesn’t necessarily affect a man’s weight. 

The young women who smoked more than 10 cigarettes per day were 2.32 times more likely to become overweight than nonsmokers, according to the study.

Researchers say the difference could be either biological or cultural.  Biologically, it might be that tobacco and gender specific hormones interact differently in girls and boys in ways that affect appetite and fat distribution.

“My hunch is that women are more likely to smoke for weight control, especially in adolescence,” said Sherry Pagoto, assistant professor in clinical psychology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “When people do quit smoking, one of the reasons they gain weight is that they increase their consumption of foods. They’ll start snacking at the times they used to smoke.”

December 6, 2008

Fatigue & Menopause

Filed under: menopause — Beverly Mahone @ 5:08 am
Tags: , ,

Fatigue is one of the symptoms of menopause.  It can affect us physically or mentally.  I went through a period of feeling extremely sluggish and got some wonderful advice from my gynecologist that I’d like to share with you:

1)  Learn to control stress:  Use relaxation therapies like meditation, yoga and tai chi.  They are considered to be effective stress-reduction techniques.

2)  Lighten your load:  Prioritize a list of “must do” activities and cut down on the less important tasks.

3)  Exercise:  Exercise is key.  It causes your body to release hormones that can make you feel energized but it also helps you sleep more soundly.

4)  Eat for energy:  Small meals or snacks every few hours can reduce your perception of fatigue by ensuring a stre! says there are things you canBut sometimes, fatigue can mean soeady supply of nurtients to the brain.

5)  Enjoy the outdoors:  Gardening, hiking or walks can help restore your body and soul.

By boosting your energy naturally, you can help cut down on the fatigue syndrome you may be experiencing and enjoy your menopause!

November 30, 2008

Finding the Right Doctor for Menopause

Finding the right doctor is one of the most important decisions a woman can make as she is entering into menopause. This transition of life is one that requires a physician who will candidly discuss what it all means as well as offer all of the alternative forms of treatment. Often times, treatment of menopause results in anti-depressive medication or unnecessary hysterectomies.

Years ago, menopause was as taboo as mental illness. There was a stigma attached to women going through “the change.” In his book, (published 1966), Dr. Robert A. Wilson wrote, “Many women endure the passing years with cow-like passivity and disinter; and a disturbingly high number take refuge in sleeping pills, alcohol and sometimes even in suicide…The tragedy of menopause often destroys her character as well as her health.” It was that kind of attitude, from a so-called expert, that forced many women to suffer in silence, for fear of being ridiculed or labeled as crazy because of their hormonal imbalance.

But in this day and age, there is no reason women have to sit back and suffer in silence. The menopausal years are a time for us to take charge of their lives. When deciding on the right doctor, you should ask the following questions:

1) What is your Health Care Practioner’s training in menopause and in aging?
2) How knowledgeable is he or she about the menopause transition?
3) What classes on menopause and on aging have they attended or taught recently?
(You want a health care professional who’s up to date on current treatments)
4) Can you talk to your doctor openly?
5) Does he or she explain things in a way you can understand?
6) Is he/she willing to consult with other professionals on alternative treatments?
7) Does your health care provider give you information to help increase your
knowledge about menopause?
8) Does he/she review the pros and cons of Estrogen Replacement Therapy and
Hormone Replacement Therapy?
9) Does he/she discuss the side-effects of synthetic drugs?
10) Is your health care provider readily available? Having to wait a month or
more may not help you.

Remember, it’s your body. Keep asking questions until you get the answers you’re seeking so you can make a wise decision about your healthcare.

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