APRIL 1, 2011
A month or two ago I started to notice that I wasn't feeling at the top of my game. I paid attention to my symptoms and kept track of how I was feeling on a regular basis. After suffering for a little while, I made an
appointment with my doctor who sent me for an ultrasound.
A few hours later, my doctor called to tell me that I had indeed developed a new skill, which led to a new hobby: I made rocks and I collected them.
Of course, I sat down with my computer to "google" the diagnosis. Gallbladder stones. AKA cholelithiasis. Yes, indeed, many of my symptoms were on my list. Thankfully, I've caught the disease before it had a chance to do more damage to my gallbladder and pancreas.
Surgery is typically indicated for gallstones. But, because I like to research all the options, I consulted a doctor who specializes in alternative treatment options. I explored the special diet I would be required to keep. I read about the pros and cons and read testimonies from patients who successfully avoided the usual surgical route.
And I consulted with a surgeon who talked to me about the gallbladder surgery and the types of surgery available; I learned about diseased gallbladders.
Once again, I was reminded of the importance of taking note of any medical symptoms I am experiencing and taking them to discuss with my doctor.
This month, we are addressing menopause and its treatment options in our newsletter. If you are struggling with menopause symptoms (Hot flashes? Night sweats? Foggy Memory?), be sure and talk to your doctor about your
treatment options. There is no need to suffer!
Stay cool! Stay informed!
Know Your Own Symptoms
APRIL 1, 2011
Whether you are experiencing natural menopause or surgical menopause, the most important thing you can do to help your doctor help you is to keep track of your own symptoms. Hormone fluctuations are common, with or without ovaries.
We suggest keeping a menopause diary for tracking your symptoms, noting both the type of symptoms and the level of intensity. It can also be helpful to indicate stresses in your diary, as stress can greatly affect hormone fluctuations. Women whose menopause symptoms have been even and well controlled for a time can find that when they are sick or under stress, the hot flashes and night sweats return. We offer a comprehensive list of Menopause Symptoms for your reference.
Find a small calendar and keep it with you. Mark symptoms on your calendar along with an intensity score. (1 is very little and 10 is intolerable.) This is particularly helpful as you adjust dosages. If you are interested in using a chart with a detailed list of symptoms, you might be interested in our Symptom Diary
When you visit your doctor, don't forget to take your calendar with you. You will then be able to provide particular details, including the number of days per month you suffer and the intensity level. See our
Menopause Checkpoint for a comprehensive list of symptoms.
The more you are aware of your own body and the changes that are occurring, the better you will be able to help your doctor in addressing your symptoms and concerns.
Estrogen Therapy Is a Choice
APRIL 1, 2011
Whether you're experiencing menopause as a result of having your ovaries removed, or just entering natural menopause, your menopause journey will likely include some treatment choices. If you're choosing to use estrogen therapy for the first time, or thinking about trying a new option, there are questions you and your doctor will want to consider: How severe are your symptoms? Are you interested in an oral pill or a transdermal patch? Which option best fits with your active lifestyle? Do you prefer your estrogen from an animal or a plant source?
One of the major differences between pills and transdermal patches is how they deliver estrogen to your body. In short, a transdermal patch uses less estrogen than a pill does to manage your symptoms. Here's the science: When taken orally, estrogen has to pass through the stomach and then be metabolized by the liver before reaching estrogen-receptive tissue. During this process, a lot of estrogen is broken down and destroyed. So in order for your body to receive enough estrogen to relieve your symptoms, the dose in a pill has to be higher than the dose used in a transdermal patch.*
In recent years, more and more women have chosen the patch to help control their moderate to severe hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness and atrophy.
By passing estrogen directly through your skin into your bloodstream, avoiding your digestive tract and liver metabolism, a patch may begin controlling your menopause symptoms within 4 hours, with smaller total doses than pills.* And, unlike the daily use of pills, the patch is applied to the lower abdomen just twice a week.
Managing Menopause Without HRT
APRIL 1, 2011
Many women face menopause without the relief from HRT—due to cancer concerns, doctor recommendation, or personal preference.
If you will be experiencing menopause without HRT, be sure to have a conversation with your doctor about some of your options. Many women who cannot take systemic HRT are still able to use vaginal estrogen to combat vaginal dryness. A doctor will help you determine if this is a good option for you and can write a prescription.
Some women find success with anti-depressants. Some anti-depressants help combat hot flashes as well as mood swings.
One of the most frustrating menopause symptoms for many women is hot flashes. Our members have stressed the importance of dressing in layers and wearing loose clothing.
Attention to what goes into our bodies can make a difference for some of us. Some women have found that avoiding dairy and choosing soy milk or almond milk can help. Others ban artificial chemicals, use over-the-counter supplements (be sure to check with your doctor first!), or add flaxseed oil or ground flaxseed to their daily diet. It is also important to learn what triggers symptoms for you. For instance, if salsa or a glass of wine is likely to result in hot flashes, you can choose to avoid it—or at least be prepared for the hot flashes.
Daily exercise can help some women even out their symptoms.
Learn as much as you can about your symptoms. Understanding what is happening with your body can lead to accepting what is happening.
For additional tips, visit this thread in our No Ovaries-No HRT forum. The first post offers details solutions for many different symptoms.
Awesome Member Tips for Dealing with Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
- Fans, fans, fans! HysterSisters members recommend ceiling fans in the bedroom
and floor fans throughout daytime living areas.
- Buy night clothes made from wicking cotton to keep yourself cool at night.
- Drink a lot of water. In fact, keeping a bottle of water in the refrigerator
ensures that you have cold water when you need it.
- A spray bottle full of water is helpful to spray your neck, face and wrist
as you overheat. It's not a wonderful as a cold shower but it is portable!
- Try a cooling scarf for during the day. You can also wet a scarf and wear
it and rewet it as needed.
- Hang out in the freezer and produce sections at the grocery store.
- Fill hot water bottles filled with ice and cold water.
The HysterSisters Store
offers helpful cooling products for women dealing with hot flashes and night sweats
Dealing with Vaginal Dryness: No Need to Suffer
APRIL 1, 2011
Vaginal atrophy and vaginal dryness are both pretty common after a hysterectomy. They often occur due to low estrogen levels in the tissues of the vagina—even in women who have kept their ovaries or are on HRT. It turns out that vaginal tissue is pretty high maintenance.
Vaginal dryness can challenge intimacy as well as be downright uncomfortable. At the same, it can be an embarrassing topic.
Fortunately, there are solutions we can try.
If you absolutely, positively cannot have any estrogen at all, you could an over-the-counter personal lubricant/moisturizer such as Replens or KY. These are non-hormonal moisturizing products for the vagina and can be used several times a week. Some women have used Vitamin E capsules or vaginal suppositories available.
If you can tolerate estrogen, there are a lot of vaginal estrogen products available by prescription that deal very effectively with dryness or atrophy. Some estrogen products come as vaginal creams or suppositories (such as Premarin, Estrace, and Vagifem). You can also get Estring, a vaginal ring with low-dose estradiol that stays inserted for two to three months. Interestingly enough, some women have success with testosterone applied to the vulva.
If you are also experiencing stress incontinence (leaking of urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh or jump), urethral atrophy may also be a factor. Since the urethra runs right along the vaginal wall it is logical that anything that absorbed into the vaginal walls would also affect the urethra. The hormonal remedies above can all help restore the integrity of the tissues in the vaginal walls AND the urethra. For many women, this is enough to eliminate or at least reduce the incontinence problem. In addition, testosterone, combined with kegels properly and faithfully done, can help build up the muscles in the pelvic floor, which goes a long way towards eliminating any urinary incontinence problem.
As you can see, there are lots of choices for dealing with vaginal dryness , so there's no need to suffer with this problem. Your doctor can help you choose which solution you should try.
From the HysterSisters Forums
APRIL 1, 2011
I had a partial, laproscopic hysterectomy almost 1.5 years ago. Kept one ovary that pooped out after about 8 months and my cervix. Started having night sweats, tired from afternoon on. Started taking Estroven, OTC. Night sweats stopped, probably still tired, I don't remember. Now taking Black Cohosh and Estroven PM and it's not cutting it. Night sweats are back, not as bad, but definately back and I'm tired all. the. time. So, I don't know the first thing about HRT. Nothing. I don't know the difference between estrogen and progesterone. I know that a blood test showed me at post-menopausal, zero estrogen. I've heard about bio-identical HRT, RX HRT, etc. But I don't even know what I NEED to stop the night sweats and have some energy again. Any help is appreciated! I'm 45 if that matters.
Join the Discussion
More Discussions to join about menopause:
Placement of Patch
43 years, no ovaries, no HRT, need inspiration
Desperate for advice
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APRIL 1, 2011
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