November 18, 2013

Facing Menopause

This is to give women of all ages a clear view of the physical, mental, and emotional changes related to menopause. For generations, women of all ages have approached menopause without knowing specifically what it would mean for them. Oh, you probably knew that menopause and hot flashes go hand in hand, but even that information isn't always true. The truth is that you may never have a hot flash, and if you do, it will probably be years before you’re menopausal. Common knowledge about menopause is still too often dominated by myth and misinformation. In fact, the medical community didn't even officially recognize the link between estrogen and hot flashes until 1974!

If menopause only concerned a small group of people on a desert island, this lack of information might be understandable. But over half of the world’s population will become menopausal one day. Menopause has been the misfit family member of the research community for years: a collection of symptoms and a very real phenomenon, but not a disease. Even medical textbooks pay scant attention to the topic. Today, one group is paying attention to menopause. The pharmaceutical industry sees great opportunity in the field of menopause, and more research is underway. If you’re looking for books to help reasonably intelligent women navigate the journey of menopause, your options are still somewhat limited to a choice between pretty, glossy pamphlets published by drug companies who may just be a tiny bit biased in their recommendations, or books that promote the natural aspects of menopause with such ferocity that you may feel guilty wishing for relief from troublesome symptoms. If you’re really persistent, you will find some academic articles in medical journals, but your eyes could glaze over as you try to pick out straightforward answers to your practical questions. This blog’s goal is to help you digest the research so you can make objective and informed health decisions based on your own experience with menopause.

Menopause is not a disease — that’s true. No one is going to die from menopause or its symptoms, but every day, women die from the medical effects of low estrogen levels. Your risks of certain diseases and cancers rise after menopause. Some folks may respond to that statement with one of their own, “Well, that’s because women are older when they go through menopause.” True again, but it’s also true that estrogen plays a role in an amazing number of functions in your body, some of which protect your organs, increase your immunity, and slow degeneration. This transformation we call menopause impacts our health in very significant ways. Some women choose to use hormone therapy to relieve symptoms associated with menopause and protect their body from disease. The choice of whether to take hormones or not is quite controversial because hormone therapy has its own significant set of risks. The debate goes on in the medical community and media concerning the risks of hormone therapy. If you’re like many women, your confusion only grows as you read more on the subject.

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