HotFlashDaily is about helping you make the best of a very challenging transition.
Because life doesn't pause during menopause.

Category Archives: Be Informed

Information you can use, about perimenopause and menopause. Most of the time we’ll refer you to the real experts, remember, we aren’t medical or other health professionals. This is reporting of interest about peri-menopause and menopause. We add humor, because it helps! Just scroll down the page to see what’s been posted.

Non-hormonal SERMS for Hotflash Relief?

Non-hormonal SERMS for Hotflash Relief?

If you can’t use estrogen therapy or you choose not to, SERMS just might give you an alternative to suffering. NAMS is the North American Menopause Society, which is a trusted source for keeping on top of the news in perimenopause and menopause treatments. Here’s why you might want to check out the NAMS information on this non-hormonal therapy:

“You should talk to your clinician about SERMs if you are experiencing hot flashes and have a history of breast cancer, have been told you have low bone density, want to avoid uterine bleeding or changes in breast density, or sex is painful for you. For a more thorough discussion about SERMs, see the NAMS video What Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) Can Do for You.”

We aren’t doctors and we don’t play them on the internet- but we recommend that if perimenopause or menopause symptoms are impacting the quality of your life, then look into SERMS. It’s science, not hocus pocus.

Life is short. Use what you know to make every day the best you can.

A New Experimental Treatment for Brain Fog

A New Experimental Treatment for Brain Fog

Many women say the “brain fog” of menopause feels like dementia, but an innovative psychiatrist has a different explanation.

Forgetful? Can’t focus? Many women say the “brain fog” of menopause feels like dementia, but an innovative psychiatrist has a different explanation.

First, here’s the background story, taken from this article in the Philadephia Inquirer:

“After C. Neill Epperson, a psychiatrist who directs the Penn Center for Women’s Behavioral Wellness, listened to many patients complain about their brains as they approached and entered menopause, she had an idea.

Women would tell her that they couldn’t juggle as much as they used to. They had to write something down instantly or the thought would disappear. They felt foggy and disorganized. Some worried that they had dementia.

The symptoms didn’t sound like dementia to Epperson, but they did sound like something else: attention deficit disorder.”

So Epperson tried treating them with a drug used to treat ADHD, and guess what? For many women, it worked.

Epperson attributes the decline in brain function during menopause to a drop in estrogen levels, but most women return to their baseline within a few years.

The research hasn’t been published yet, and is still in its very early stages, but the results are promising.

We at HFD will keep you posted as this develops further.

 

 

 

Are You a Door Mat? Wisdom from Martha Beck

Are You a Door Mat? Wisdom from Martha Beck

Martha Beck is a hero to us at Hot Flash Daily. She tells it like it is, even when we find it hard to “go there.”

In a recent blog post about “How to Stand Up for Yourself“, Martha talks about times when we allow ourselves to be exploited:

“we stop acting on our own desires and become purely reactive instead, focused not on what we want but on what others will think, say, or do.”

She gives a very clear description of the kinds of feelings that might signal you’re in this situation, on a scale from:

Feeling: Disturbed
You easily brush aside your feelings and continue your nice, polite behavior.”

through four other feelings to the last, most extreme feeling:

Feeling: Homicidal
You daydream about thrashing the offender in a cage fight. You have knots in your stomach and can’t sleep. You’re irritable or depressed. You may occasionally lash out at loved ones in what appears to be irrational rage. Toward the offender, however, you still act “nice” and “polite.”

We’re not just posting this because we know menopause can make us feel homicidal. (Yep.)  All jokes aside, it is a time when feelings can be stronger and closer to the surface than before your hormones put you on this menopause journey. It can be difficult to decide what is real and what people often tell us is “the hormones talking.”  Martha’s blog might just help you see a situation where you could stand up for yourself and improve your energy and your life! We hope so.

What we want for you is a life where you stand up for yourself.  Where you make the best day of every day you have. And we bring you every tool we can to help make that possible.

 

Menopause and Breast Cancer

Menopause and Breast Cancer

How do menopause and breast cancer treatments relate?

Breast cancer and menopause have a complicated relationship. This article  from the American Cancer Society manages to sum it up pretty well:

The known link between estrogen levels and breast cancer growth has discouraged many women and their doctors from choosing or recommending post-menopausal hormone therapy (PHT), also called hormone replacement therapy (HRT), to help relieve menopausal symptoms.

Unfortunately, many women experience menopausal symptoms after treatment for breast cancer. This can happen naturally, as a result of post-menopausal women stopping PHT, or in pre-menopausal women as a result of chemotherapy or ovarian ablation. Tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors can also cause menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.

The cycle is complicated further by the fact that when menopause symptoms start after a woman has already had breast cancer, offering HRT can actually increase the risk of the cancer coming back. This can make menopause a nightmare for women who, after surviving cancer, now have to deal with hot flashes, sweating, and the loss of fertility.

But let’s back up for a moment and talk about younger women who go into early menopause as a result of breast cancer treatment. The website “Living Beyond Breast Cancer” discusses the possibilities:

If you had regular periods before chemotherapy, they may return afterward. The younger you are during treatment, the more likely your periods will return.

Talk with your doctor if your period returns after you have missed three or more cycles.

You are in early menopause if your periods end due to treatment that began when you were still premenopausal.

Doctors sometimes call this premature menopause if it occurs at age 40 or younger.

If your periods stop temporarily or permanently, know that you are not alone. Many young women who are treated for breast cancer experience the same thing.

If you or someone you love finds themselves in this situation, first and foremost, don’t do it alone. In addition to getting the best medical care possible, make sure they are getting professional psychological help. Build a strong support group of friends and family, and others going through the same thing. If it’s a loved one or a friend going through it, make sure they know that you are there for them, no matter what—for whatever they need. Let them guide you when it comes to how much help and support they want, because everyone is different.

For more information about breast cancer, visit the Susan G. Komen website.

 

 

 

Menopausal Sweat? That too, that too….

Menopausal Sweat? That too, that too….

Think you're more sweaty and stanky than before? Well, you're right. The list of symptoms continues, ladies...

Are you so stinky you make Right Guard turn left, Secret spill its guts, Sure uncertain, and Speed Stick slow down?

According to researchers, a change of body odor is another one of the fun symptoms we menopausal women may have to endure.

Although I’m a bit suspicious. Should we really trust these experts who apparently have nothing better to do than sniff sweaty arm pit pads of women hitting the mid-century mark?

Evidently, these experts tested menopausal sweat and lived to tell the story. They went on to write reports on how our hormone fluctuations can cause a false message to be sent to our ‘hypothalamuses’ – the part of our brain that controls body temperature. Then voila!

We ever-so-lucky menopausal women get to experience those wonderful hot flashes along with an increase in sweat production which results in changes in our body odor. On top of that, panic attacks and anxiety make us sweat even more, causing even skunks to run for their lives.

So what’s a menopausal stinky woman to do?

Before you move permanently into the bath tub, keep all the windows open no matter the weather, or glue your elbow to your waist, try the following tips:

  • Take a bath or shower daily. Yes, it sounds simple, but don’t overlook the obvious. This isn’t the time for a quick 60-second shower either. Take the time to be thorough and use lots of soap.
  • It’s time to leave the 70s in the past. Stay away from polyester and multi-blends. Stick to natural breathable fabrics like cotton and linen which gets rid of body odor by absorbing sweat instead of trapping it against the body.
  • Sorry ladies, but here’s the bad news. Although normally harmless in moderation, during menopause any amount of alcohol can negatively impact your body odor. The odor of alcohol itself can be secreted through the skin and raise your body’s temperature causing you to sweat even more. Do I dare say it again? Drink water instead. SORRY.
  • Try some changes in your diet. Cut back on strong spices like garlic as well as coffee. A lack of dietary magnesium and zinc can also contribute to body odor. Eat healthy foods rich in magnesium like spinach, nuts, seeds, and fish along with excellent sources of zinc like lean meats, poultry, oysters, beans, chickpeas, eggs, cashews, and almonds.
  • If you smoke, this is a great time to stop since it just makes the whole menopause odor thing worse. Plus, it can kill you.
  • Various underlying conditions like diabetes or kidney problems can also cause body odor changes. If you’ve noticed a significant change, see a doctor to determine if the problem could be caused by a medical condition.
  • I know, with hormones raging giving you erratic mood swings that can cause whiplash, this isn’t easy – but try not to stress which just causes you to sweat more.

So there you have it. Follow some of these tips and try not to sweat too much over this stinky, stanky, sweaty menopausal problem. If you find yourself fanning your armpits, you certainly aren’t alone.  As a cartoon I saw said: “A lady doesn’t sweat. She sparkles.”

Let’s go with that.

Menopause & Depression

Menopause & Depression

Research has confirmed a link between depression and perimenopause—something that we women have known for years.

Research has confirmed a link between depression and perimenopause—something that we women have known for years.

Changing hormone levels, the loss of fertility, aging, stress, changing sexuality—these are all things that can cause mood swings and a depressed mood, or aggravate a more serious clinical depression. But before we talk about what to “do” about it, let’s define our terms a bit.

Types of Depression

The North American Menopause Society describes 3 different uses of the word “depression”:

A depressed mood — This is a normal, brief period of feeling blue or sad that is commonly experienced and rarely requires treatment. The medical term is dysphoria.

Depression as a symptom — Sometimes called an adjustment reaction, this type of depression may be due to a wide variety of medical or psychological problems, or to intense reactions to life events (such as divorce, losing a job, death of a loved one). It is usually short term and most often does not require treatment, although it can progress to clinical depression. The medical term for depression that occurs most of the day, more days than not, for at least 2 years is dysthymia.

Clinical depression — This is a disorder believed to result from a chemical imbalance in the brain. A clinical (major) depression requires treatment. Women with a history of clinical depression may be more likely to experience it during menopause.

Treatment Options

If you find yourself feeling blue most of the day, having difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, feeling despair and loneliness, you may just be going through a rough patch, or it may be something more serious.

Your doctor can help you figure out what’s going on, and the best course of treatment.

In some cases, medication may be recommended, but there are other things you can try to help alleviate the depression:

  • Herbal remedies such as St. John’s Wort
  • Exercise releases endorphins that give you a good feeling
  • Try yoga, meditation, and a Mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Mindfulness has been shown to relieve stress and depression in many cases.
  • If you and your doctor decide it’s appropriate, anti-depressant medication or therapy.

A major sign of depression is a lack of energy or desire to do anything. In that kind of mindset, it can be very difficult to seek help. If you’re feeling this way, reach out to someone: a friend, family member, anyone who can support you as you get the professional help you need.

Chances are, everyone is going to go through a period of depression at some point. The key is to recognize it for what it is, and to not brush it off as “a bad month” etc. Remember, our goal at Hot Flash Daily is to make each day the best it can be, so if you’re struggling- please do reach out for help.

You’re not alone. There is hope.

Here is a link to a list of help lines you can call to speak to someone.

Why Is My Tongue on Fire?

Why Is My Tongue on Fire?

Ladies, may you NEVER experience Burning Tongue Syndrome...

Okay, time to talk about those odd perimenopause symptoms I’ve never experienced but am utterly fascinated by their absurdity.

Let’s start with the burning tongue syndrome, also known as burning mouth syndrome. From what I’ve read, this is no joke. A serious, painful condition, this syndrome is characterized by a burning sensation not only on the tongue, but on the gums, lips, inside of cheeks, and the back of the mouth or throat.

In other words, it’s like that 60s Johnny Cash song: “I went down, down, down, and the flames went higher. And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire. Or it’s Disco Inferno all over again – burn, baby, burn. Or, for you younger perimenopausal women, how about the 80s song, “Burning Down the House,” by the Talking Heads?

I mean, REALLY? Isn’t it enough that we menopausal women are brought to our knees with hot flashes, heart palpitations, mood swings, and insomnia? Must we also feel like our tongues are on fire?

Sorry ladies, but it only gets worse.

Although the pain is usually minimal in the morning, it gradually escalates through the day until it can reach almost unbearable levels. Add to all that fun, burning tongue syndrome can also give food a bitter, metallic type taste. You can’t even enjoy your comfort foods without consequences with this lovely little side effect.

And just try explaining this burning tongue thingy to your loved ones when they already think menopause has caused you to go off your rocker.

The exact cause of burning tongue is not fully understood; however, as with all our other menopausal woes, the fluctuating hormone levels and lack of estrogen is thought to be responsible. Estrogen plays a role in the production of saliva. As I mentioned in my article, Dueling Dragon Breath, this can cause bad breath – as well as your mouth feeling like it’s on fire – which I guess makes the term ‘dragon breath’ all the more applicable.

Don’t shoot the messenger, girls. I never claimed it was fun and games here in menopause land. So what can you do to treat burning tongue syndrome? You can try the following recommendations:

  • Supposedly the cure to all menopausal symptoms, drink more water, of course.
  • Chewing sugar-free gum and sucking ice may bring some temporary relief.
  • Avoid acidic foods like tomatoes, orange juice, and coffee as well as spicy foods. Also limit carbonated beverages and alcohol which can dehydrate an already dry mouth.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Practice good oral hygiene.
  • Prescription pain medication is available as a last resort.

What else? As usual, a sense of humor is your first line of defense! Hum Disco Inferno if it helps.

Baby boomers who want to learn more about finding their bliss, can visit Julie’s blog.    

Like a Virgin. Hey!

Like a Virgin. Hey!

"After menopause, there is a new normal," Kellogg Spadt said. "But sex should never, never be painful."”

If you have memories of your first time as being painful, then sex these days might just be giving you flashbacks. Hot flashes get a lot of attention, as do mood swings. But if you’re dry as a desert down there and intercourse is uncomfortable and painful, you may not be comfortable bringing it up with your doctor.

Here’s a number that might surprise you: HALF of the 55 million women over 50 in the U.S. suffer from vaginal dryness and atrophy. You know how many actually report it to their doctor? Only 25% of them. That’s a lot of women suffering in silence, and it’s making me angry.

Why do we feel like painful sex (or none at all) is something that we should just accept as we get older?  Especially when there are so many treatment options out there? This article  from the Philadelphia Inquirer is a good summary of what you can do for painful sex:

“In addition to making intercourse painful, changes in the vulva and vagina can lead to urinary and bladder problems.

“It’s not a woman’s fault, but the adage that if you don’t use it you lose it in this case is true,” Kellogg Spadt said – one of the downsides, she noted, of “going into early sexual retirement.”

Sexual activity creates more blood flow, which tends to keep the tissues “happier.”

Lubricants make sex more comfortable, but creams and lotions are required to moisturize delicate tissues. If more help is needed, at least four prescription medications are available to treat vaginal atrophy with low-dose topical estrogen.

A vaginal ring (akin to the now virtually extinct contraceptive diaphragm) releases the hormone gradually and is replaced every three months. There also are estrogen creams, and a tiny tablet suppository, that are used two or three times a week…

…And hip, back, or knee pain may throw off body mechanics and create spasms in the pelvic floor muscles. This, Steiner said, can be relieved with physical therapy. Vaginal tightening may be helped by the use of dilators.

“After menopause, there is a new normal,” Kellogg Spadt said. “But sex should never, never be painful.””

We totally agree. Both with the “new normal” thing and that sex should never have to be painful, ever. Whether you feel like having sex or not is a different story. But when you do, it should not have to hurt.

Talk to your doctor about your options, and be an advocate for your body, your health, and your happiness.

Menopause and Joint Pain?

Menopause and Joint Pain?

My Knee Says It’s Going to Rain Later...

“Oil…can…oil…can”

It’s what the Tin Man asks for in The Wizard of Oz, to lubricate his metal joints so that he can move.

If you wish you could do the same, and you’re suffering from joint pain, menopause may be the culprit.

Unless you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, or even Lupus or MS, chances are this is chronic inflammation in your body. Bone density loss from aging and hormone changes can contribute to the symptoms.

Experts believe that over half of postmenopausal women experience some degree of joint pain. This pain is a consequence of immune system changes which occur as a result of unstable hormone levels.

What to do?

Keep a record of your pain over a week or so, then discuss with your doctor about your symptoms so you can eliminate any other possible causes.

Your doctor may suggest HRT to reduce the inflammation and relieve the pain. See our article here on the pros and cons of HRT (and the alternatives).

Other things you can do to relieve the joint pain are: eating fewer simple sugars and refined carbohydrates, increasing fruit and vegetable intake, supplementation with multivitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, and regular moderate exercise.

The food you eat is a major factor in inflammation. Trigger foods include: corn and corn products, gluten, yeast, eggs, citrus, and members of the nightshade family – eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes. Sugar and processed foods can increase inflammation.

As much as possible eliminate foods that are known to contribute to body inflammation and your joint pain may improve significantly:

• Sugar (and sugar products such as soda pop, candy, etc.). Check all label contents for sugar content and you may be surprised how much sugar is in your food.

• White flour products

• ‘nightshade’ foods (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers)

• Citrus, with the exception of lemon and grapefruit

• Dairy products, with the exception of plain yogurt with active culture

• Meat including beef, pork, and lamb

• Vegetable oils (use grapeseed oil for cooking, use olive oil in salads and include the essential fatty acids flax seed, sesame, pumpkin, borage, sunflower oils)

• MSG (monosodium glutamate)

• Alcohol

You may want to check out Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory food pyramid for some guidelines about what is best to eat and the quantity.

Consider testing yourself for food allergies using the above mentioned foods. Stop eating them for two weeks, then introduce one at a time and note any affects, especially related to digestion issues and/or pain.

Here’s something you will find easy to add: Increase your water intake – starting first thing in the morning.  Add the juice of ¼ or ½ fresh lemon to 12-ounces of water to help alkalize your system. Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge and refill it in the early afternoon. Then stop about 2 hours before bed so you don’t spend the night in the bathroom.

MOVE. Try walking even a short distance, once a day, starting slow. Then work up to walking a bit further each week. Also yoga gives you both the meditation (which helps relieve stress) and easy stretching without jarring your joints

Finally, consider massage or acupuncture. It isn’t for everybody – but it just might be right for you!

Bottom line: Menopause can cause joint pain. But what you eat and how you move can play a huge role in relieving that pain. 

Manopause?- Yes. It’s Called Andropause.

Manopause?- Yes. It’s Called Andropause.

Yes, there actually IS something like "manopause." It's called andropause, and it can hit many men hard.

Bob noticed the changes happening slowly over a period of a few years: he started feeling lethargic, lost interest in having sex, noticed his body mass changing, and on top of it all…he was having fewer erections.

Bob, who always had a healthy sex life and enjoyed life to the fullest, began to feel like there was something wrong. He saw his wife going through menopause experiencing some of the same symptoms, and wonders if he isn’t going through some form of male menopause.

Yes, such a thing exists: it’s called “Andropause.”

The loss of energy, sex drive, and physical agility can hit many men hard.

Gail Sheehy, author of Passages and Menopause: The Silent Passage, wrote in a 1993 article in Vanity Fair magazine,

“If menopause is the silent passage, ‘male menopause’ is the unspeakable passage.

It is fraught with secrecy, shame, and denial. It is much more fundamental than the ending of the fertile period of a woman’s life, because it strikes at the core of what it is to be a man.”

Years ago there was no name or recognition for this. In fact one little study came out in 1944, when Drs. Carl G. Heller and Gordon B. Myers wrote a paper, “The male climacteric: its symptoms, diagnosis and treatment,” in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association.  Subsequent studies did not occur in the U.S. but continued overseas until the 1970’s.

At least we gals have had centuries of study and affirmation of what we go through during the “change of life”.

The symptoms these doctors wrote about were exactly those described in more recent literature as symptoms of andropause or male menopause:

  • Frequent fatigue
  • Moodiness and depression
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Decrease in life’s enjoyment
  • Waning strength of erections
  • Falling fast asleep after eating dinner
  • Lowering of strength and stamina
  • Insomnia
  • and sometimes even hot flashes!

“Welcome to my world” you may say…

But here’s the big difference between andropause and menopause:

While men and women may experience similar symptoms, menopause results in a complete end to reproductive fertility.

Andropause is a biological change; a slow loss of testosterone with most symptoms experienced by men from 40 -70, yet men can still reproduce into their 90’s (although it’s little consolation to them if they can’t “rise to the challenge”).

“This is a highly prevalent disorder,” said Robert Brannigan, MD, urologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “Unfortunately, we estimate that 95 percent of cases are undiagnosed and therefore untreated. When ignored, symptoms can seriously disrupt one’s quality of life.”

“It’s important that men pay attention to their body and openly discuss symptoms with their physician in order to prevent overlooking the cause and avoid missing an opportunity for appropriate therapy.”

“This disorder is not something that should be ignored,” said Brannigan, as studies have found the condition has been linked to chronic medical conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The most common treatment options are much like those of female menopause:  hormone replacement therapy (HRT) via implants, topical gels, patches, and injections. Through HRT, doctors have had great success restoring sexual function and muscle strength. And men often experience an increase in energy and an improved overall sense of well-being quickly.

Read more about other causes of low testosterone, alternative treatments, and treatment side effects.

So what can you do for the men in your life going through andropause? Encourage them to see their doctor—there are plenty of treatment options that can help.

Category Archives: Be Informed

Information you can use, about perimenopause and menopause. Most of the time we’ll refer you to the real experts, remember, we aren’t medical or other health professionals. This is reporting of interest about peri-menopause and menopause. We add humor, because it helps! Just scroll down the page to see what’s been posted.

Non-hormonal SERMS for Hotflash Relief?

Non-hormonal SERMS for Hotflash Relief?

If you can’t use estrogen therapy or you choose not to, SERMS just might give you an alternative to suffering. NAMS is the North American Menopause Society, which is a trusted source for keeping on top of the news in perimenopause and menopause treatments. Here’s why you might want to check out the NAMS information on this non-hormonal therapy:

“You should talk to your clinician about SERMs if you are experiencing hot flashes and have a history of breast cancer, have been told you have low bone density, want to avoid uterine bleeding or changes in breast density, or sex is painful for you. For a more thorough discussion about SERMs, see the NAMS video What Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) Can Do for You.”

We aren’t doctors and we don’t play them on the internet- but we recommend that if perimenopause or menopause symptoms are impacting the quality of your life, then look into SERMS. It’s science, not hocus pocus.

Life is short. Use what you know to make every day the best you can.

A New Experimental Treatment for Brain Fog

A New Experimental Treatment for Brain Fog

Many women say the “brain fog” of menopause feels like dementia, but an innovative psychiatrist has a different explanation.

Forgetful? Can’t focus? Many women say the “brain fog” of menopause feels like dementia, but an innovative psychiatrist has a different explanation.

First, here’s the background story, taken from this article in the Philadephia Inquirer:

“After C. Neill Epperson, a psychiatrist who directs the Penn Center for Women’s Behavioral Wellness, listened to many patients complain about their brains as they approached and entered menopause, she had an idea.

Women would tell her that they couldn’t juggle as much as they used to. They had to write something down instantly or the thought would disappear. They felt foggy and disorganized. Some worried that they had dementia.

The symptoms didn’t sound like dementia to Epperson, but they did sound like something else: attention deficit disorder.”

So Epperson tried treating them with a drug used to treat ADHD, and guess what? For many women, it worked.

Epperson attributes the decline in brain function during menopause to a drop in estrogen levels, but most women return to their baseline within a few years.

The research hasn’t been published yet, and is still in its very early stages, but the results are promising.

We at HFD will keep you posted as this develops further.

 

 

 

Are You a Door Mat? Wisdom from Martha Beck

Are You a Door Mat? Wisdom from Martha Beck

Martha Beck is a hero to us at Hot Flash Daily. She tells it like it is, even when we find it hard to “go there.”

In a recent blog post about “How to Stand Up for Yourself“, Martha talks about times when we allow ourselves to be exploited:

“we stop acting on our own desires and become purely reactive instead, focused not on what we want but on what others will think, say, or do.”

She gives a very clear description of the kinds of feelings that might signal you’re in this situation, on a scale from:

Feeling: Disturbed
You easily brush aside your feelings and continue your nice, polite behavior.”

through four other feelings to the last, most extreme feeling:

Feeling: Homicidal
You daydream about thrashing the offender in a cage fight. You have knots in your stomach and can’t sleep. You’re irritable or depressed. You may occasionally lash out at loved ones in what appears to be irrational rage. Toward the offender, however, you still act “nice” and “polite.”

We’re not just posting this because we know menopause can make us feel homicidal. (Yep.)  All jokes aside, it is a time when feelings can be stronger and closer to the surface than before your hormones put you on this menopause journey. It can be difficult to decide what is real and what people often tell us is “the hormones talking.”  Martha’s blog might just help you see a situation where you could stand up for yourself and improve your energy and your life! We hope so.

What we want for you is a life where you stand up for yourself.  Where you make the best day of every day you have. And we bring you every tool we can to help make that possible.

 

Menopause and Breast Cancer

Menopause and Breast Cancer

How do menopause and breast cancer treatments relate?

Breast cancer and menopause have a complicated relationship. This article  from the American Cancer Society manages to sum it up pretty well:

The known link between estrogen levels and breast cancer growth has discouraged many women and their doctors from choosing or recommending post-menopausal hormone therapy (PHT), also called hormone replacement therapy (HRT), to help relieve menopausal symptoms.

Unfortunately, many women experience menopausal symptoms after treatment for breast cancer. This can happen naturally, as a result of post-menopausal women stopping PHT, or in pre-menopausal women as a result of chemotherapy or ovarian ablation. Tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors can also cause menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.

The cycle is complicated further by the fact that when menopause symptoms start after a woman has already had breast cancer, offering HRT can actually increase the risk of the cancer coming back. This can make menopause a nightmare for women who, after surviving cancer, now have to deal with hot flashes, sweating, and the loss of fertility.

But let’s back up for a moment and talk about younger women who go into early menopause as a result of breast cancer treatment. The website “Living Beyond Breast Cancer” discusses the possibilities:

If you had regular periods before chemotherapy, they may return afterward. The younger you are during treatment, the more likely your periods will return.

Talk with your doctor if your period returns after you have missed three or more cycles.

You are in early menopause if your periods end due to treatment that began when you were still premenopausal.

Doctors sometimes call this premature menopause if it occurs at age 40 or younger.

If your periods stop temporarily or permanently, know that you are not alone. Many young women who are treated for breast cancer experience the same thing.

If you or someone you love finds themselves in this situation, first and foremost, don’t do it alone. In addition to getting the best medical care possible, make sure they are getting professional psychological help. Build a strong support group of friends and family, and others going through the same thing. If it’s a loved one or a friend going through it, make sure they know that you are there for them, no matter what—for whatever they need. Let them guide you when it comes to how much help and support they want, because everyone is different.

For more information about breast cancer, visit the Susan G. Komen website.

 

 

 

Menopausal Sweat? That too, that too….

Menopausal Sweat? That too, that too….

Think you're more sweaty and stanky than before? Well, you're right. The list of symptoms continues, ladies...

Are you so stinky you make Right Guard turn left, Secret spill its guts, Sure uncertain, and Speed Stick slow down?

According to researchers, a change of body odor is another one of the fun symptoms we menopausal women may have to endure.

Although I’m a bit suspicious. Should we really trust these experts who apparently have nothing better to do than sniff sweaty arm pit pads of women hitting the mid-century mark?

Evidently, these experts tested menopausal sweat and lived to tell the story. They went on to write reports on how our hormone fluctuations can cause a false message to be sent to our ‘hypothalamuses’ – the part of our brain that controls body temperature. Then voila!

We ever-so-lucky menopausal women get to experience those wonderful hot flashes along with an increase in sweat production which results in changes in our body odor. On top of that, panic attacks and anxiety make us sweat even more, causing even skunks to run for their lives.

So what’s a menopausal stinky woman to do?

Before you move permanently into the bath tub, keep all the windows open no matter the weather, or glue your elbow to your waist, try the following tips:

  • Take a bath or shower daily. Yes, it sounds simple, but don’t overlook the obvious. This isn’t the time for a quick 60-second shower either. Take the time to be thorough and use lots of soap.
  • It’s time to leave the 70s in the past. Stay away from polyester and multi-blends. Stick to natural breathable fabrics like cotton and linen which gets rid of body odor by absorbing sweat instead of trapping it against the body.
  • Sorry ladies, but here’s the bad news. Although normally harmless in moderation, during menopause any amount of alcohol can negatively impact your body odor. The odor of alcohol itself can be secreted through the skin and raise your body’s temperature causing you to sweat even more. Do I dare say it again? Drink water instead. SORRY.
  • Try some changes in your diet. Cut back on strong spices like garlic as well as coffee. A lack of dietary magnesium and zinc can also contribute to body odor. Eat healthy foods rich in magnesium like spinach, nuts, seeds, and fish along with excellent sources of zinc like lean meats, poultry, oysters, beans, chickpeas, eggs, cashews, and almonds.
  • If you smoke, this is a great time to stop since it just makes the whole menopause odor thing worse. Plus, it can kill you.
  • Various underlying conditions like diabetes or kidney problems can also cause body odor changes. If you’ve noticed a significant change, see a doctor to determine if the problem could be caused by a medical condition.
  • I know, with hormones raging giving you erratic mood swings that can cause whiplash, this isn’t easy – but try not to stress which just causes you to sweat more.

So there you have it. Follow some of these tips and try not to sweat too much over this stinky, stanky, sweaty menopausal problem. If you find yourself fanning your armpits, you certainly aren’t alone.  As a cartoon I saw said: “A lady doesn’t sweat. She sparkles.”

Let’s go with that.

Menopause & Depression

Menopause & Depression

Research has confirmed a link between depression and perimenopause—something that we women have known for years.

Research has confirmed a link between depression and perimenopause—something that we women have known for years.

Changing hormone levels, the loss of fertility, aging, stress, changing sexuality—these are all things that can cause mood swings and a depressed mood, or aggravate a more serious clinical depression. But before we talk about what to “do” about it, let’s define our terms a bit.

Types of Depression

The North American Menopause Society describes 3 different uses of the word “depression”:

A depressed mood — This is a normal, brief period of feeling blue or sad that is commonly experienced and rarely requires treatment. The medical term is dysphoria.

Depression as a symptom — Sometimes called an adjustment reaction, this type of depression may be due to a wide variety of medical or psychological problems, or to intense reactions to life events (such as divorce, losing a job, death of a loved one). It is usually short term and most often does not require treatment, although it can progress to clinical depression. The medical term for depression that occurs most of the day, more days than not, for at least 2 years is dysthymia.

Clinical depression — This is a disorder believed to result from a chemical imbalance in the brain. A clinical (major) depression requires treatment. Women with a history of clinical depression may be more likely to experience it during menopause.

Treatment Options

If you find yourself feeling blue most of the day, having difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, feeling despair and loneliness, you may just be going through a rough patch, or it may be something more serious.

Your doctor can help you figure out what’s going on, and the best course of treatment.

In some cases, medication may be recommended, but there are other things you can try to help alleviate the depression:

  • Herbal remedies such as St. John’s Wort
  • Exercise releases endorphins that give you a good feeling
  • Try yoga, meditation, and a Mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Mindfulness has been shown to relieve stress and depression in many cases.
  • If you and your doctor decide it’s appropriate, anti-depressant medication or therapy.

A major sign of depression is a lack of energy or desire to do anything. In that kind of mindset, it can be very difficult to seek help. If you’re feeling this way, reach out to someone: a friend, family member, anyone who can support you as you get the professional help you need.

Chances are, everyone is going to go through a period of depression at some point. The key is to recognize it for what it is, and to not brush it off as “a bad month” etc. Remember, our goal at Hot Flash Daily is to make each day the best it can be, so if you’re struggling- please do reach out for help.

You’re not alone. There is hope.

Here is a link to a list of help lines you can call to speak to someone.

Why Is My Tongue on Fire?

Why Is My Tongue on Fire?

Ladies, may you NEVER experience Burning Tongue Syndrome...

Okay, time to talk about those odd perimenopause symptoms I’ve never experienced but am utterly fascinated by their absurdity.

Let’s start with the burning tongue syndrome, also known as burning mouth syndrome. From what I’ve read, this is no joke. A serious, painful condition, this syndrome is characterized by a burning sensation not only on the tongue, but on the gums, lips, inside of cheeks, and the back of the mouth or throat.

In other words, it’s like that 60s Johnny Cash song: “I went down, down, down, and the flames went higher. And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire. Or it’s Disco Inferno all over again – burn, baby, burn. Or, for you younger perimenopausal women, how about the 80s song, “Burning Down the House,” by the Talking Heads?

I mean, REALLY? Isn’t it enough that we menopausal women are brought to our knees with hot flashes, heart palpitations, mood swings, and insomnia? Must we also feel like our tongues are on fire?

Sorry ladies, but it only gets worse.

Although the pain is usually minimal in the morning, it gradually escalates through the day until it can reach almost unbearable levels. Add to all that fun, burning tongue syndrome can also give food a bitter, metallic type taste. You can’t even enjoy your comfort foods without consequences with this lovely little side effect.

And just try explaining this burning tongue thingy to your loved ones when they already think menopause has caused you to go off your rocker.

The exact cause of burning tongue is not fully understood; however, as with all our other menopausal woes, the fluctuating hormone levels and lack of estrogen is thought to be responsible. Estrogen plays a role in the production of saliva. As I mentioned in my article, Dueling Dragon Breath, this can cause bad breath – as well as your mouth feeling like it’s on fire – which I guess makes the term ‘dragon breath’ all the more applicable.

Don’t shoot the messenger, girls. I never claimed it was fun and games here in menopause land. So what can you do to treat burning tongue syndrome? You can try the following recommendations:

  • Supposedly the cure to all menopausal symptoms, drink more water, of course.
  • Chewing sugar-free gum and sucking ice may bring some temporary relief.
  • Avoid acidic foods like tomatoes, orange juice, and coffee as well as spicy foods. Also limit carbonated beverages and alcohol which can dehydrate an already dry mouth.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Practice good oral hygiene.
  • Prescription pain medication is available as a last resort.

What else? As usual, a sense of humor is your first line of defense! Hum Disco Inferno if it helps.

Baby boomers who want to learn more about finding their bliss, can visit Julie’s blog.    

Like a Virgin. Hey!

Like a Virgin. Hey!

"After menopause, there is a new normal," Kellogg Spadt said. "But sex should never, never be painful."”

If you have memories of your first time as being painful, then sex these days might just be giving you flashbacks. Hot flashes get a lot of attention, as do mood swings. But if you’re dry as a desert down there and intercourse is uncomfortable and painful, you may not be comfortable bringing it up with your doctor.

Here’s a number that might surprise you: HALF of the 55 million women over 50 in the U.S. suffer from vaginal dryness and atrophy. You know how many actually report it to their doctor? Only 25% of them. That’s a lot of women suffering in silence, and it’s making me angry.

Why do we feel like painful sex (or none at all) is something that we should just accept as we get older?  Especially when there are so many treatment options out there? This article  from the Philadelphia Inquirer is a good summary of what you can do for painful sex:

“In addition to making intercourse painful, changes in the vulva and vagina can lead to urinary and bladder problems.

“It’s not a woman’s fault, but the adage that if you don’t use it you lose it in this case is true,” Kellogg Spadt said – one of the downsides, she noted, of “going into early sexual retirement.”

Sexual activity creates more blood flow, which tends to keep the tissues “happier.”

Lubricants make sex more comfortable, but creams and lotions are required to moisturize delicate tissues. If more help is needed, at least four prescription medications are available to treat vaginal atrophy with low-dose topical estrogen.

A vaginal ring (akin to the now virtually extinct contraceptive diaphragm) releases the hormone gradually and is replaced every three months. There also are estrogen creams, and a tiny tablet suppository, that are used two or three times a week…

…And hip, back, or knee pain may throw off body mechanics and create spasms in the pelvic floor muscles. This, Steiner said, can be relieved with physical therapy. Vaginal tightening may be helped by the use of dilators.

“After menopause, there is a new normal,” Kellogg Spadt said. “But sex should never, never be painful.””

We totally agree. Both with the “new normal” thing and that sex should never have to be painful, ever. Whether you feel like having sex or not is a different story. But when you do, it should not have to hurt.

Talk to your doctor about your options, and be an advocate for your body, your health, and your happiness.

Menopause and Joint Pain?

Menopause and Joint Pain?

My Knee Says It’s Going to Rain Later...

“Oil…can…oil…can”

It’s what the Tin Man asks for in The Wizard of Oz, to lubricate his metal joints so that he can move.

If you wish you could do the same, and you’re suffering from joint pain, menopause may be the culprit.

Unless you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, or even Lupus or MS, chances are this is chronic inflammation in your body. Bone density loss from aging and hormone changes can contribute to the symptoms.

Experts believe that over half of postmenopausal women experience some degree of joint pain. This pain is a consequence of immune system changes which occur as a result of unstable hormone levels.

What to do?

Keep a record of your pain over a week or so, then discuss with your doctor about your symptoms so you can eliminate any other possible causes.

Your doctor may suggest HRT to reduce the inflammation and relieve the pain. See our article here on the pros and cons of HRT (and the alternatives).

Other things you can do to relieve the joint pain are: eating fewer simple sugars and refined carbohydrates, increasing fruit and vegetable intake, supplementation with multivitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, and regular moderate exercise.

The food you eat is a major factor in inflammation. Trigger foods include: corn and corn products, gluten, yeast, eggs, citrus, and members of the nightshade family – eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes. Sugar and processed foods can increase inflammation.

As much as possible eliminate foods that are known to contribute to body inflammation and your joint pain may improve significantly:

• Sugar (and sugar products such as soda pop, candy, etc.). Check all label contents for sugar content and you may be surprised how much sugar is in your food.

• White flour products

• ‘nightshade’ foods (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers)

• Citrus, with the exception of lemon and grapefruit

• Dairy products, with the exception of plain yogurt with active culture

• Meat including beef, pork, and lamb

• Vegetable oils (use grapeseed oil for cooking, use olive oil in salads and include the essential fatty acids flax seed, sesame, pumpkin, borage, sunflower oils)

• MSG (monosodium glutamate)

• Alcohol

You may want to check out Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory food pyramid for some guidelines about what is best to eat and the quantity.

Consider testing yourself for food allergies using the above mentioned foods. Stop eating them for two weeks, then introduce one at a time and note any affects, especially related to digestion issues and/or pain.

Here’s something you will find easy to add: Increase your water intake – starting first thing in the morning.  Add the juice of ¼ or ½ fresh lemon to 12-ounces of water to help alkalize your system. Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge and refill it in the early afternoon. Then stop about 2 hours before bed so you don’t spend the night in the bathroom.

MOVE. Try walking even a short distance, once a day, starting slow. Then work up to walking a bit further each week. Also yoga gives you both the meditation (which helps relieve stress) and easy stretching without jarring your joints

Finally, consider massage or acupuncture. It isn’t for everybody – but it just might be right for you!

Bottom line: Menopause can cause joint pain. But what you eat and how you move can play a huge role in relieving that pain. 

Manopause?- Yes. It’s Called Andropause.

Manopause?- Yes. It’s Called Andropause.

Yes, there actually IS something like "manopause." It's called andropause, and it can hit many men hard.

Bob noticed the changes happening slowly over a period of a few years: he started feeling lethargic, lost interest in having sex, noticed his body mass changing, and on top of it all…he was having fewer erections.

Bob, who always had a healthy sex life and enjoyed life to the fullest, began to feel like there was something wrong. He saw his wife going through menopause experiencing some of the same symptoms, and wonders if he isn’t going through some form of male menopause.

Yes, such a thing exists: it’s called “Andropause.”

The loss of energy, sex drive, and physical agility can hit many men hard.

Gail Sheehy, author of Passages and Menopause: The Silent Passage, wrote in a 1993 article in Vanity Fair magazine,

“If menopause is the silent passage, ‘male menopause’ is the unspeakable passage.

It is fraught with secrecy, shame, and denial. It is much more fundamental than the ending of the fertile period of a woman’s life, because it strikes at the core of what it is to be a man.”

Years ago there was no name or recognition for this. In fact one little study came out in 1944, when Drs. Carl G. Heller and Gordon B. Myers wrote a paper, “The male climacteric: its symptoms, diagnosis and treatment,” in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association.  Subsequent studies did not occur in the U.S. but continued overseas until the 1970’s.

At least we gals have had centuries of study and affirmation of what we go through during the “change of life”.

The symptoms these doctors wrote about were exactly those described in more recent literature as symptoms of andropause or male menopause:

  • Frequent fatigue
  • Moodiness and depression
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Decrease in life’s enjoyment
  • Waning strength of erections
  • Falling fast asleep after eating dinner
  • Lowering of strength and stamina
  • Insomnia
  • and sometimes even hot flashes!

“Welcome to my world” you may say…

But here’s the big difference between andropause and menopause:

While men and women may experience similar symptoms, menopause results in a complete end to reproductive fertility.

Andropause is a biological change; a slow loss of testosterone with most symptoms experienced by men from 40 -70, yet men can still reproduce into their 90’s (although it’s little consolation to them if they can’t “rise to the challenge”).

“This is a highly prevalent disorder,” said Robert Brannigan, MD, urologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “Unfortunately, we estimate that 95 percent of cases are undiagnosed and therefore untreated. When ignored, symptoms can seriously disrupt one’s quality of life.”

“It’s important that men pay attention to their body and openly discuss symptoms with their physician in order to prevent overlooking the cause and avoid missing an opportunity for appropriate therapy.”

“This disorder is not something that should be ignored,” said Brannigan, as studies have found the condition has been linked to chronic medical conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The most common treatment options are much like those of female menopause:  hormone replacement therapy (HRT) via implants, topical gels, patches, and injections. Through HRT, doctors have had great success restoring sexual function and muscle strength. And men often experience an increase in energy and an improved overall sense of well-being quickly.

Read more about other causes of low testosterone, alternative treatments, and treatment side effects.

So what can you do for the men in your life going through andropause? Encourage them to see their doctor—there are plenty of treatment options that can help.

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Write for Hot Flash Daily.

Share your story? Advice? Ideas? Cartoons or videos you've created? We'd love your contribution.

Write for Hot Flash Daily.

Share your story? Advice? Ideas? Cartoons or videos you've created? We'd love your contribution.

©2016 Hot Flash Daily. All rights reserved.

©2016 Hot Flash Daily. All rights reserved.

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HotFlashDaily.com was created in the spirit of making every day your very best, even when you just don’t feel like it.

The site was conceived and built through the combined efforts of contributing bloggers, technicians, and impassioned women who believe the way we treat ourselves is a direct reflection of how we feel about ourselves.

We’re looking for true short stories for the website, and perhaps for inclusion in an e-book, from women who want to tell others about their experiences with peri-menopause, menopause, and beyond. We’re looking for experiences, ups/downs/unexpected highs and lows, sticky situations, “what I wish I’d known”, “what I’d tell my younger self”.. you name it!

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