Who Produce Fewest Eggs Seen Entering Menopause Earlier: Researchers
say women who produced few eggs were almost 12 times more likely
to go through menopause early as compared with women who had a normal
Via Skin Patch Results in Higher Estrogen Levels During Exercise:
Researchers say women who get hormone replacement therapy
(HRT) through a skin patch have higher levels of estrogen during
exercise than women who take HRT orally, but in most instances it
is not cause for concern.
Hot Mamas Provide Interactive Information on Menopause:
A new Web developed by a national menopause educational organization
is providing information for women and men on the multiple health
and lifestyle implications of menopause.
Dose HRT Prevents Postmenopausal Osteoporosis: Researchers
also reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association
that calcium alone does not prevent bone loss during early menopause
as was previously believed.
May Experience a Dramatic Loss of Sexual Function in Menopause:
Australian researchers say the changes are primarily associated
with a drop in the level of the hormone estradiol, and that use
of hormone replacement therapy protects against the decline of sexual
Women Can Regain Elasticity in Arteries: Researchers
say that walking 40 minutes a day can help women decrease the risk
of high blood pressure and heart disease.
Risks Linked to Obesity Seen as Problem Among Menopausal Women:
Researchers say that with 70 percent of women age 45-54 either overweight
or obese, diseases like diabetes and heart disease become major
Strongly Linked to Other Health Risks for Postmenopausal Women:
Researchers say that postmenopausal women with higher levels of
trunk fat were possibly at an increased risk of developing type
2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Delayed for New Lotion to Help Control Hot Flashes:
Novavax Inc. has withdrawn its application for FDA approval for
Estrasorb, an estrogen-replacement lotion.
Low-Dose Hormone Replacement Therapy Help Curb Skin Wrinkling:
A study is testing an investigational, low-dose oral HRT
as a possible means for controlling and improving age-related skin
of Women Beginning Menopause Do Not Understand What Is Happening:
A national survey conducted by RoperASW also found that six
out of 10 women do not understand the relationship between estrogen
loss and menopausal conditions.
After Menopause Creates Slightly Higher Risk of Ovarian Cancer:
Researchers at Falu Hospital in Sweden say the risk is modest, but
women taking the drug for more than 10 years are at higher risk
for the disease.
Replacement Therapy May Not Benefit Heart: Hormone
replacement therapy (HRT) should not be given to women solely for
the purpose of preventing heart attacks and strokes, according to
a new recommendation from the American Heart Association.
Replacement Therapy Appears to Reduce Risk of Cataracts:
report that women who take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after
menopause appear to reduce their risks of cataracts.
Replacement Therapy Appears to Help Diabetics Control Glucose:
researchers report that diabetic women who take hormone replacement
therapy (HRT) after menopause appear to be better able to keep their
blood sugar levels under control.
the point in a woman's life when menstruation stops permanently,
signifying the end of her ability to have children. Known as the
"change of life," menopause is the last stage of a gradual biological
process in which the ovaries reduce their production of female sex
hormones--a process which begins about 3 to 5 years before the final
menstrual period. This transitional phase is called the climacteric,
considered complete when a woman has been without periods for 1
year. On average, this occurs at about age 50. But like the beginning
of menstruation in adolescence, timing varies from person to person.
Cigarette smokers tend to reach menopause earlier than nonsmokers.
contain structures called follicles that hold the egg cells. You
are born with about 2 million egg cells and by puberty there are
about 300,000 left. Only about 400 to 500 ever mature fully to be
released during the menstrual cycle. The
rest degenerate over the years.
During the reproductive
years, the pituitary gland in the brain generates hormones that
cause a new egg to be released from its follicle each month. The
follicle also increases production of the sex hormones estrogen
and progesterone, which thicken the lining of the uterus. This enriched
lining is prepared to receive and nourish a fertilized egg following
conception. If fertilization does not occur, estrogen and progesterone
levels drop, the lining of the uterus breaks down, and menstruation
reasons, the ovaries begin to decline in hormone production during
the mid-thirties. In the late forties, the process accelerates and
hormones fluctuate more, causing irregular menstrual cycles and
unpredictable episodes of heavy bleeding. By the early to mid-fifties,
periods finally end altogether. However, estrogen production does
not completely stop. The ovaries decrease their output significantly,
but still may produce a small amount. Also, another form of estrogen
is produced in fat tissue with help from the adrenal glands (near
the kidney). Although this form of estrogen is weaker than that
produced by the ovaries, it increases with age and with the amount
of fat tissue.
the other female hormone, works during the second half of the menstrual
cycle to create a lining in the uterus as a viable home for an egg,
and to shed the lining if the egg is not fertilized. If you skip
a period, your body may not be making enough progesterone to break
down the uterine lining. However, your estrogen levels may remain
high even though you are not menstruating.
hormone levels don't always decline uniformly. They alternately
rise and fall again. Changing ovarian hormone levels affect the
other glands in the body, which together make up the endocrine system.
The endocrine system controls growth, metabolism and reproduction.
This system must constantly readjust itself to work effectively.
Ovarian hormones also affect all other tissues, including the breasts,
vagina, bones, blood vessels, gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract,
an individualized experience. Some women notice little difference
in their bodies or moods, while others find the change extremely
bothersome and disruptive. Estrogen and progesterone affect virtually
all tissues in the body, but everyone is influenced by them differently.
Hot flashes, or flushes, are the most common symptom of menopause,
affecting more than 60 percent of menopausal women in the U.S. A
hot flash is a sudden sensation of intense heat in the upper part
or all of the body. The face and neck may become flushed, with red
blotches appearing on the chest, back, and arms. This is often followed
by profuse sweating and then cold shivering as body temperature
readjusts. A hot flash can last a few moments or 30 minutes or longer.
Hot flashes occur sporadically and often start several years before
other signs of menopause. They gradually decline in frequency and
intensity as you age. Eighty percent of all women with hot flashes
have them for 2 years or less, while a small percentage have them
for more than 5 years. Hot flashes can happen at any time. They
can be as mild as a light blush, or severe enough to wake you from
a deep sleep. Some women even develop insomnia. Others have experienced
that caffeine, alcohol, hot drinks, spicy foods, and stressful or
frightening events can sometimes trigger a hot flash. However, avoiding
these triggers will not necessarily prevent all episodes. Hot flashes
appear to be a direct result of decreasing estrogen levels. In response
to falling estrogen levels, your glands release higher amounts of
other hormones that affect the brain's thermostat, causing body
temperatures to fluctuate. Hormone therapy relieves the discomfort
of hot flashes in most cases.
Tract Changes. With advancing age, the walls of the vagina become
thinner, dryer, less elastic and more vulnerable to infection. These
changes can make sexual intercourse uncomfortable or painful. Most
women find it helpful to lubricate the vagina. Water-soluble lubricants
are preferable, as they help reduce the chance of infection. Try
to avoid petroleum jelly; many women are allergic, and it damages
condoms. Be sure to see your gynecologist if problems persist. Tissues
in the urinary tract also change with age, sometimes leaving women
more susceptible to involuntary loss of urine (incontinence), particularly
if certain chronic illnesses or urinary infections are also present.
Exercise, coughing, laughing, lifting heavy objects or similar movements
that put pressure on the bladder may cause small amounts of urine
to leak. Lack of regular physical exercise may contribute to this
condition. It's important to know, however, that incontinence is
not a normal part of aging, to be masked by using adult diapers.
Rather, it is usually a treatable condition that warrants medical
evaluation. Recent research has shown that bladder training is a
simple and effective treatment for most cases of incontinence and
is less expensive and safer than medication or surgery. Within 4
or 5 years after the final menstrual period, there is an increased
chance of vaginal and urinary tract infections. If symptoms such
as painful or overly frequent urination occur, consult your doctor.
Infections are easily treated with antibiotics, but often tend to
recur. To help prevent these infections, urinate before and after
intercourse, be sure your bladder is not full for long periods,
drink plenty of fluids, and keep your genital area clean. Douching
is not thought to be effective in preventing infection.
Mental Health. A popular myth pictures the menopausal woman shifting
from raging, angry moods into depressive, doleful slumps with no
apparent reason or warning. However, a study by psychologists at
the University of Pittsburgh suggests that menopause does not cause
unpredictable mood swings, depression, or even stress in most women.
In fact, it may even improve mental health for some. This gives
further support to the idea that menopause is not necessarily a
One of the most important health issues for middle-aged women is
the threat of osteoporosis. It is a condition in which bones become
thin, fragile, and highly prone to fracture. Numerous studies over
the past 10 years have linked estrogen insufficiency to this gradual,
yet debilitating disease. In fact, osteoporosis is more closely
related to menopause than to a woman's chronological age.
Disease Most people picture an older, overweight man when they think
of a likely candidate for cardiovascular disease (CVD). But men
are only half the story. Heart disease is the number one killer
of American women and is responsible for half of all the deaths
of women over age 50.
For reasons unknown, estrogen helps protect women against CVD during
the childbearing years. After menopause, the incidence of CVD increases,
with each passing year posing a greater risk.
Therapy To combat the symptoms associated with falling estrogen
levels, doctors have turned to hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
HRT is the administration of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) refers to administration of estrogen
alone. The hormones are usually given in pill form, though sometimes
skin patches and vaginal creams (just estrogen) are used. ERT is
thought to help prevent the devastating effects of heart disease
and osteoporosis, conditions that are often difficult and expensive
to treat once they appear. The cardiovascular effects of progesterone,
however, are still unknown. Hormone treatment for menopause is still
quite controversial. Its long-term safety and efficacy remain matters
of great concern. There is not enough existing data for physicians
to suggest that HRT is the right choice for all women. Each woman
should make a decision about HRT based on her own family history
and life experiences.
and regular physical exercise are thought to improve overall health.
Some doctors feel these factors can also affect menopause. Although
these areas have not been well studied in women, anecdotal evidence
is strongly in favor of eating well and exercising to help lower
risks for CVD and osteoporosis.
one has all the answers about menopause. The important thing to
remember as you go through menopause is to be good to yourself.
Take time to pursue your hobbies, be they gardening, painting or
socializing with friends. Have a positive attitude toward life.
Sharing concerns with friends, a spouse, relatives or a support
group can help. Don't fight your body--allow the changes that are
happening to become a part of you, a part that is natural and that
provided by: National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of
Health, Bethesda, MD 20892