It's Not Your Mother's Menopause
Get ready for today's modern, more optimistic approach to life during -- and after -- menopause
Managing Menopause Symptoms: Lifestyle Changes continued...
And exercise may also address that lagging libido of yours.
"Staying fit for both partners helps, but particularly women because if they feel good about themselves they are more likely to feel more sexual," says Margery Gass, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the University Hospital Menopause and Osteoporosis Center, University of Cincinnati. "It's important for women to maintain regular sexual activity as they get older, too. It keeps things working smoothly."
Eating a healthy diet, including plenty of calcium and vitamin D, is another way you may be able to control menopause symptoms and stave off the weight gain often associated with "the Change." Avoiding certain foods, including spicy cuisine, red wine, and hot beverages, may also lessen the discomfort of hot flashes.
Other lifestyle changes you can try to ease hot flashes include yoga, deep abdominal breathing, and acupuncture.
Easing Symptoms of Menopause: Modern Medicine
Gone are the days when doctors call the shots when treating menopause symptoms. "In the past it was more autocratic -- your physician made the decision," Pinkerton says. "For today's woman going through menopause, decisions made about medications and dosing should be made in partnership with your provider. It's a concept called shared decision-making."
When you're ready to partner with your doctor and make those menopause treatment decisions, three areas to touch on may include:
- Symptom Relief. When it comes to relieving symptoms after menopause, hormone therapy is by far the most effective treatment. For years, it was thought to confer a variety of health benefits, but results in recent years from the Women's Health Initiative study have shown that some women using replacement therapy actually had an increased occurrence of heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancer. The results turned the medical establishment upside-down and left millions of women confused and looking for answers.
"It's still the best treatment there is for symptomatic women and so we just have to weigh in the risks the way we would for anything," says Gass. "The main take-home message should be that we're not recommending hormones for lifetime use for prevention of disease, but they're still an excellent choice for treating menopause symptoms."
- Osteoporosis Prevention. A major transition in the way osteoporosis is approached and treated is also in the works. Rather than treating women based on bone density alone, Gass says that health care practitioners will conduct a global risk assessment to determine the actual likelihood of fracture. Decisions about whether you need therapies such as biophosphonates to build bones may soon be made based on that assessment.
- Boosting Sex Drive. When it comes to reviving your libido, the medical research community is still searching for answers. Estrogen creams may alleviate vaginal dryness, but there is not yet an FDA-approved therapy that addresses the lower testosterone levels that may have put your sex drives into low gear after menopause.