Menopause Treatments [Q&A]

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GetAttachment.aspxI have received so many emails since HOT FLASH IN THE CITY  so I thought that I would answer a few of them over the coming weeks via my blog to share with others.  Here's one that underscores the importance of appropriate treatment of menopausal symptoms and also how not having the right treatment at the right time may make symptoms worse!

Dear Maureen,

My sweet sister bought us tickets to HOT FLASH IN THE CITY for your event in West Vancouver.  I really enjoyed the evening and think you are amazing for bringing attention to these issues.  I have been suffering with hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, mood swings and no sex drive (my poor husband). I was wondering if you know of someone, hopefully a female practitioner that I could see to help me with these issues. Unfortunately, I  don't have much faith in my doctor.  I had a full hysterectomy about twelve years ago, I'm 67 and have tried creams, health store menopause remedies, and my doctor gave me a prescription for Pamprin last year. I tried it for a month and it really didn't change anything. In fact, it made me drowsy and dry all over and especially "down there." Thanks for listening.  

Sincerely,  

Dried Up and Fed Up (DRAFU)!

Dear DRAFU,

Thank you so much for your lovely note and for attending Hot Flash in the City! In general, women go through menopause during their  their 40s and 50s. Hormonal changes during this transition may produce symptoms such as hot flashes and others as you described. Generally, hot flashes and night sweats usually subside after 5-10 years (before the age of 60); however, some women have hot flashes well into their postmenopausal years.

Vaginal dryness is also common and may be a result of medications like antihistamines (an ingredient in Pamprin).  Vaginal dryness is commonly associated with low sexual desire.  I often recommend hormone free personal moisturizers to help relieve vaginal dryness.   Vaginal dryness may progress to vaginal atrophy, a chronic condition that DOES NOT get better with time unlike other menopausal symptoms. Vaginal Atrophy requires treatment with low dose localized estrogen therapy. This is so important especially in women over the age of  65 because of the increased risk of urinary tract infections which may lead to sepsis (an overwhelming multi-system infection) and/or hospitalization.  Treating vaginal dryness or vaginal atrophy may also aid in increasing sexual desire for some women.

As a place to start, I would recommend that you ask your doctor for a referral to a gynaecologist. Gynaecologists are trained to treat  your postmenopausal symptoms.  Being an advocate for your own health at this transitional time of life is key to symptom management!

For your information, Pamprin is an over-the-counter medication for Premenstrual Syndrome (which you are well past and, in fact, you are surgically post-menopausal).  It contains an antihistamine to treat irritability (and will dry things up especially in your vagina which may lead to painful sex and may decrease sexual desire). It also contains a diuretic to fight against bloating and water weight gain, and a pain reliever to alleviate cramps. Are you sure it was Pamprin and not Premarin that your doctor prescribed for  you? I would love to hear back from you regarding this.

There are many treatments besides hormones for women after the age of 60 and your gynaecologist will explore these treatment options with you. Health store remedies will have little more than a placebo effect and that is unlikely at best.

Keep in mind that lifestyle changes like reduction of alcoholic beverages, managing stress, eating a healthy plant-based diet, and routine strenuous exercise may help to reduce hot flashes. And, one more thing... about your sex life... yes indeed, I agree your poor husband, but in reality, poor you. You are missing out on the greatest pleasure and tremendous health benefits when you turn your back on the bedroom. The release of endorphins at orgasm will help with mood, sleep and increasing sexual desire even further. But don't worry, getting the right help at menopause is key to getting back to the bedroom!

Best of luck to you!

Maureen

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