Enjoy Your Menopause!

October 2, 2009

Oral Sex and Breast Cancer

Filed under: women's health — Beverly Mahone @ 11:54 pm
Tags: , , ,

I was listening to the radio the other day and heard a rather interesting interview.  The doctor was talking about how swallowing semen may help prevent breast cancer.

WHAT?!

Thank God for Google because you know I had to do my own research as a journalist.  Sure enough, there was a report, dating back to 2003, that indicates women who perform the act of fellatio and swallow semen on a regular basis, one to two times a week, may reduce their risk of breast cancer by up to 40 percent. 

The study, conducted at North Carolina State University, involved over 15,000 women suspected of having performed regular fellatio and swallowed the ejaculatory fluid, over a 10-year-period.  The researchers found that those who performed the act regularly, one to two times a week, had a lower occurrence of breast cancer than those who had not. There was no increased risk, however, for those who did not regularly perform.

Dr. A.J. Kramer of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who was not involved in the research was quoted as saying,  “I am surprised by these findings, but am also excited that the researchers may have discovered a relatively easy way to lower the occurrence of breast cancer in women.”  (I really hope this comment was made by a female).

I wonder how soon it will be before we see men wearing tee-shirts with the slogan “Once a Day Keeps Cancer Away?”

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July 20, 2009

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is one of those annoying symptoms of menopause.  Like vaginal dryness, women don’t really want to talk about it–not even to their doctors.  But it is something that should be addressed because it can be a very embarrassing situation if it happens at an inconvenient time. 

Urinary incontinence is the inability to control the release of urine from your bladder. Some people experience occasional, minor leaks — or dribbles — of urine. Others wet their clothes frequently.

Types of urinary incontinence include:

  • Stress incontinence. This is loss of urine when you exert pressure — stress — on your bladder by coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising or lifting something heavy. Stress incontinence occurs when the sphincter muscle of the bladder is weakened. In women, physical changes resulting from pregnancy, childbirth and menopause can cause stress incontinence. In men, removal of the prostate gland can lead to this type of incontinence.
  • Urge incontinence. This is a sudden, intense urge to urinate, followed by an involuntary loss of urine. Your bladder muscle contracts and may give you a warning of only a few seconds to a minute to reach a toilet. With urge incontinence, you may need to urinate often, including throughout the night. Urge incontinence may be caused by urinary tract infections, bladder irritants, bowel problems, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, injury or nervous system damage associated with multiple sclerosis. If there’s no known cause, urge incontinence is also called overactive bladder.
  • Overflow incontinence. If you frequently or constantly dribble urine, you may have overflow incontinence, which is an inability to empty your bladder. Sometimes you may feel as if you never completely empty your bladder. When you try to urinate, you may produce only a weak stream of urine. This type of incontinence may occur in people with a damaged bladder, blocked urethra or nerve damage from diabetes and in men with prostate gland problems.
  • Mixed incontinence. If you experience symptoms of more than one type of urinary incontinence, such as stress incontinence and urge incontinence, you have mixed incontinence.
  • Functional incontinence. Many older adults, especially people in nursing homes, experience incontinence simply because a physical or mental impairment keeps them from making it to the toilet in time. For example, a person with severe arthritis may not be able to unbutton his or her pants quickly enough. This is called functional incontinence.
  • Gross total incontinence. This term is sometimes used to describe continuous leaking of urine, day and night, or the periodic uncontrollable leaking of large volumes of urine. In such cases, the bladder has no storage capacity. Some people have this type of incontinence because they were born with an anatomical defect. This type of incontinence can be caused by injuries to the spinal cord or urinary system or by an abnormal opening (fistula) between the bladder and an adjacent structure, such as the vagina.

When to see a doctor
You may feel uncomfortable discussing incontinence with your doctor. But if incontinence is frequent or is affecting your quality of life, seeking medical advice is important for several reasons:

  • Urinary incontinence may indicate a more serious underlying condition, especially if it’s associated with blood in your urine.
  • Urinary incontinence may be causing you to restrict your activities and limit your social interactions to avoid embarrassment.
  • Urinary incontinence may increase the risk of falls in older adults as they rush to make it to the toilet.

***Part of this article is courtesy of the Mayo Clinic website.***

April 21, 2009

Inhaling a Heart Attack?

In case you haven’t heard, heart disease is the number one killer of women over the age of 40.  We are used to thinking of heart disease as a product of genetic factors or lifestyle choices, such as what we eat and how much we exercise. But now it appears there is another road to heart disease: breathing.

Researchers at the University of Louisville and the University of Michigan say there are a number of studies connecting pollution with heart disease:

• A study of six U.S. cities found that people died earlier when they lived in cities with higher pollution levels. A majority of these deaths were due to heart disease.
• A study of 250 metropolitan areas around the world found a spike in air pollution is followed by a spike in heart attacks.
• A study in Salt Lake City found that when a nearby steel mill shut down for a period of months, there was a 4-6% drop in mortality. The mortality rose to previous levels when the steel mill re-opened.

The people who seem to be most susceptible to environmental pollutants are the people who are already vulnerable, including the elderly and people with coronary artery disease. There is also some evidence that diabetics, women and people who are obese may be at greater risk.

One intriguing statistic is that the risk of heart attack increases in parallel with time spent in traffic the previous day. In animal experiments, researchers found that aldehydes — a toxic class of chemicals found in most forms of smoke, including cigarette smoke and car exhaust — increase blood cholesterol levels and activate enzymes that cause plaque in the blood vessels to rupture. When plaque ruptures, it can cause a blood clot, which may block an artery and lead to a heart attack.

If you live in an area where pollution levels may be high, doctors say you can take steps to reduce the risk of air pollution.  During times when air quality is unhealthy, exercise indoors, because indoor air is filtered. If you exercise outdoors, particularly if you’re at risk for heart disease, do it when pollutants are at lower levels. Avoid peak traffic times.

March 18, 2009

Good Sleep Equals Good Health

Good sleep equals good health.  That’s the diagnosis from experts at the Comprehensive Epilepsy and Sleep Disorders Center at Baylor Regional Medical Center in California.  Unfortunately, more than half of women report problems with insomnia. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “women’s lack of sleep affects nearly every aspect of their time-pressed lives, leaving them late for work, stressed out, tired and with little time for friends.” What’s going on? There are several factors, and all relate to poor sleep hygiene.

1. Too much java
Coffee consumption has jumped dramatically. It’s like a vicious cycle. People drink coffee at night and stay up late watching TV or surfing the Internet. Then they need a jolt at 6 a.m. to get started for the day. Eventually, that takes a toll on the body. Caffeine is a stimulant and it is advised that you refrain from drinking it at least six hours before bed.

2. Stressed out
Are you someone known as a “worry wart?”  Night time is the time some of us start thinking about what we forgot to do, about the kids, work deadlines, unpaid bills, and the economy.  That makes it hard to relax but once your head, your only duty is to sleep.

3. Stay cool
Body temperature lowers about one degree during sleep. Working out too close to bedtime or having an alcoholic night cap is counterproductive—it will take three hours to cool down enough for sleep to take place.  Tossing and turning also has an impact on your body temperature.  Every small amount of exertion consumes energy, which raises the body’s temperature, further delaying sleep.

4. The bottom line
Developing good sleep hygiene can help you avoid relying on medication.  Experts suggest you try the following:

1)  Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.

2)  Have bedtime ritual.  Thirty minutes before bed turn off loud music, make the atmosphere calm, dim the lights, take a warm (not hot) shower.

3) Read in bed for a maximum of 15 minutes, turn off the lights, close your eyes and relax.

February 4, 2009

Let’s Talk About Yeast Infections

Have you ever felt like going somewhere or just walking around the house without wearing any panties?  Some doctors say it’s actually a lot healthier to go without because certain panties have been known to cause yeast infections.  Doctors recommend you go without wearing panties on occasion to allow the vaginal area to “air out.”

So what is a yeast infection?  Yeast is a fungus that normally lives in the vagina in small numbers.  A vaginal years infection means too many yeast cells are growing in the vagina.  These infections are very common and can be bothersome, but are usuallt not serious.

A yeast infection causes itching or soreness in the vagina and sometimes causes pain or burning when you go to the bathroom or have sex.  Another sign is you will notice discolored urine that appears thicker than normal.

You can prevent yeast infections by making sure your vaginal area stays as dry as possible and can “breathe.”

Avoid douches, feminine sprays, scented toilet paper and deoderant tampons. 

And when you do wear panties, make sure they’re cotton, not nylon, and not tight-fitting.  That means NO THONGS. 

 

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 24, 2009

What is Your Heart Telling You?

Ever since being diagnosed with congestive heart failure, I’ve made it my business to read all I can and to follow the instructions given by my Cardiologist. 

Heart disease is the nation’s number one killer for women. The well-known heart attack symptoms – acute pain, tightness, burning and a dull ache in the chest – describe what men typically experience during an attack. For many women the signs of a heart attack are completely different and can go unrecognized

Symptoms
Nausea, shoulder pain and exhaustion can be the only signs a woman experiences during an attack. Heart disease tends to come later in women than in men, on average 10 years after menopause. Women are more likely to die from their heart attacks.

Immediacy
Most people know to get to an emergency room immediately when they’ve identified that they’re having a heart attack. However, research shows that women go to the hospital on average one full hour later than men do after experiencing an attack. Most benefits of medical treatment occur in the first six hours after an attack, so delayed medical treatment reduces chances of full recovery. This could be due to a lack of education about onset and symptoms.

Treatment
Doctors say clot-buster drugs may be immediately given to break up the clot and allow blood to get through to the heart. If necessary a balloon or a stent can be placed in the clogged artery to open the artery and strengthen the artery wall. Sometimes surgery and other procedures are required, depending on the situation.

Prevention
You’ve heard the old saying:  “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Prevention is the best medicine.  That means doing your part to keep your heart healthy and strong. 

1)  Maintain low cholesterol levels.

2)  Exercise.

3)  Quit smoking.

4)  If you have diabetes, keep it under control.

5)  Monitor your blood pressure, and keep it in check.

6)  Know your family medical history. If there’s a history of heart disease, start earlier and be even more diligent about prevention.

 

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 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.”

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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