Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Women Helping Women

Women have gone through menopause ever since they could live long enough to pass the usual insults of medieval life ~ death by childbirth or communicable diseases.  While menopause is a natural part of aging and not a disease state or illness per se, it is important to view it as a hormone deficiency state where quality of life needs to be optimized.  Fluctuations in hormones can be erratic, or severe deficiency can occur, making the time ripe for evaluation by a professional.  Did anyone have The Second Talk with you about menopause?  Menopause is associated with significant health risk factors:  heart disease and osteoporosis.

 Many women complain of symptoms of pre-menopause, where periods become heavier, the abdomen is more bloated, and insomnia begins to plague a woman's quality of life.  Ahhh. Quality of Life (QoL).  That is what we are talking about, ladies and gentlemen.

Most women don't really know when they are going through pre-menopause, as the process can take from 1-6 years or longer.  During this time, periods may be missed here and there, and symptoms do not yet include the typical hot flashes, vulvar atrophy, or dysparunia so characteristic of menopause.

Menopause occurs when the ovaries stop functioning, and the menstrual period has stopped for one calendar year.   Women in menopause complain primarly of hot flashes (in Western society), joint pain (in India, Japan, Hawaiian Japanese, Iranians), insomnia, moodiness, irritability, and depression.  Many studies on menopause and QoL exist, and several studies also looked at hormone therapy, finding that hormones had a positive effect on QoL.  So menopause is complete at one year, and Postmenopause begins.

The Postmenopausal period extends for the rest of a woman's life, such that a woman will spend about one third of her life in pre-menopause, menopause, and/or post-menopause.  With 6,000 Baby Boomers entering menopause per day in the USA, it's no wonder that we need to think about menopause, talk about menopause, and consider joining a menopause group.  Women need to help women.


Other Articles by Dr. Margaret Aranda

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