Simple symptoms may easily be ignored, but it's important to note that these symptoms have been reported by women experiencing menopause.
Often the symptoms on this list are ignored if only one or two are present. But If you have several of these symptoms that disrupt your normal day, discuss them with your doctor during your next checkup. There are treatment options for your menopause symptoms - you do not need to suffer in silence!
- Hot flashes, flushes, night sweats and/or cold flashes, clammy feeling
- Irregular heart beat
- Mood swings, sudden tears
- Trouble sleeping through the night (with or without night sweats)
- Loss of libido
- Dry vagina
- Pain during sex
- Crashing fatigue
- Anxiety, feeling ill at ease
- Feelings of dread, apprehension, doom
- Difficulty concentrating, disorientation, mental confusion
- Disturbing memory lapses
- Incontinence, especially upon sneezing or laughing; urge incontinence
- Itchy, crawly skin
- Aching, sore joints, muscles and tendons
- Increased tension in muscles
- Breast tenderness
- Headache change: increase or decrease
- Gastrointestinal distress, indigestion, flatulence, gas pain, nausea
- Sudden bouts of bloating
- Worsening of existing conditions
- Increase in allergies
- Weight gain
- Hair loss or thinning on head, in pubic area, or over whole body; increase in facial hair
- Dizziness, light-headedness, episodes of loss of balance
- Changes in body odor
- Electric shock sensation under the skin and in the head
- Tingling in the extremities
- Gum problems, increased bleeding
- Burning tongue, burning roof of mouth, bad taste in mouth, change in breath odor
- Changes in fingernails: softer, crack or break more easily
- Tinnitus: ringing in ears, bells, 'whooshing,' buzzing, etc.
A Balancing Act
It's important to note that if you try one hormone therapy and find it "isn't working" that it isn't necessarily the kind of hormone that may be the problem. Instead it may be the dosage that needs tweaking. And it's also important to note that HysterSisters have found that it's important to try a hormone therapy for a month or so before changing to another kind or dosage.
Our body's hormone levels fluctuate quite a bit during the first few months post-op hysterectomy as our body systems are trying to find new balance.
Keep a hormone diary noting symptoms and level of intensity of suffering.
And given some time, as the symptoms are more consistent, you might find help towards altering your hormone therapy. Having patience through the process can be difficult but the right HRT is worth the effort.
Conjugated Estrogens: (Premarin®, Cenestin®)
Synthetic hormones are defined as hormones that are created by a pharmaceutical company for trademark/brand name reasons to take the place of hormones (or to add to the hormones) created by the ovaries. Chemically, they are not identical to the original hormone of the ovaries. Conjugated estrogens are a mixture of different estrogen female hormones manufactured from pregnant mare's urine (however, Cenestin is made completely from yams and soy).
Estropipated Estrogens: (Estratab®, Menest®)
Esterified Estrogens: (Ogen®, Ortho-Est®)
Bio-identical Estrogens: (Estrace®, Vivelle Dot®, Climara patch®)
Bio-identical hormones are by definition hormones that are chemically identical to the hormones that are produced by the ovaries.
Compounded Estrogens: (Estradiol, Estrone, Estriol)
Compounded hormones are bio-identical hormones that use FDA-approved hormone raw ingredients but are created with unique dosages and delivery methods according to your specific needs. Prescriptions for compounded hormones are filled in a pharmacy by a registered pharmacist according to a doctor's prescription. (See more info below for more about compounded hormone therapy.)
Progesterone is available in synthetic and bio-identical forms. Many women, even after a hysterectomy, enjoy benefits of its use to help with symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia.
Testosterone is available in synthetic and bio-identical forms as well. Many women in menopause discover a lack of energy, a lowering of the libido and other sexual functions that can sometimes be helped with some testosterone therapy. Currently there are no FDA approved pharmaceutical testosterone products, but HysterSisters have found compounded testosterone helpful.
What Are the Differences?
There is much in the media these days about "Bio-Identical Hormones." Bio-Identical hormones come in several forms. Besides a pill like Estrace®, the most common and easiest method to get bio-identical hormones is an estrogen patch like Vivelle Dot®. Compounded hormones are another form of bio-identical estrogen which requires a special compounding pharmacy.
Bio-identical hormones are manufactured hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) that are created using plant materials to be molecularly identical to the original biological hormone created by your ovaries.
Conjugated estrogens, on the other hand, have MORE atoms in the molecule so that it does not look exactly like the atoms in the estrogen that your body makes. In some people, the extra atoms make no difference at all. In a lot of people, the extra atoms cause more side effects. Since getting the right hormone mix is hard enough, it seems like a good idea to stick with the kind that looks exactly like the kind your body makes.
Hormones are messengers in the body. They are like keys. The cells that actually do things have little locks. When a hormone comes by, it sees whether it fits the lock. Estradiol fits the lock exactly and opens up the cell. With the extra atoms, like an extra bump in a key, conjugated estrogen fits the lock less well.
The only reason that conjugated estrogens have these extra atoms is so that the pharmaceutical megacorporations can "own" them and manufacture them under a patent.
Bio-identical hormones are available from standard pharmacies in pill or patch form. Compounded hormones require the use of a compounding pharmacy.
What are Compounded Hormones?
Compounding pharmacies differ from other pharmacies. Although they dispense the same products that are prepared by pharmaceutical companies and sold at regular pharmacies, they also make customized prescription medications for patients.
Compounding pharmacists can prepare hormones for replacement therapy based on your needs. Working with your doctor based on symptoms you have (and in some cases, also based on hormone testing), the pharmacist can make your hormones not only in the strength and dose you need but also can make them in various forms. Common forms are creams, pills, troches (lozenges) and sublingual drops. This makes compounded prescriptions versatile and a good choice for women whose needs aren?t met by products available from conventional pharmacies. The raw hormones (estradiol, estrone, progesterone and testosterone) used in compounding are FDA-approved ingredients.
You may want to check with your insurance company to be sure compounded hormones are covered. Sometimes demonstrated need and persistence go a long way toward getting this option approved.
Supplements for Menopause Symptoms
Black cohosh, chaste tree, red clover, calcium, essential fatty acids---the array of dietary supplements is mind boggling and leaves us feeling overwhelmed and confused. Do they help with sudden menopause? Are they safe? Which ones should be used?
When used responsibly, dietary supplements help alleviate menopausal changes, fortify your diet, enhance stamina, bolster immunity and reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as osteoporosis and cancer. Vitamins, minerals and herbs can be used to manage menopausal symptoms, either alone or with prescribed medicine.
However, sometimes the types of supplements recommended may vary, depending on whether or not a woman is taking prescribed medicine. In either case, it is imperative to have a basic working knowledge of the supplements you wish to try. This includes information about dosage, duration of use, side effects and drug interactions; even though readily available over-the-counter, supplements can still interact with certain medications. As a general rule of thumb, allow at least two hours to elapse between taking medicine and nutritional supplements.
Also, if you are taking medication, undergoing cancer treatments or are scheduled for surgery or a procedure; be sure to discuss your supplements with your doctor and pharmacist. Sometimes you need to suspend taking specific vitamins and herbal products immediately before and during cancer treatments or prior to a surgical or invasive procedure.
HysterSisters Menopause Resources
Menopause and Hormone Discussions
Menopause and No Hormones Discussions
Health and Fitness Discussions
Bladder Matters Discussions
Friends Without Faces Discussions
Beyond the Land of Hyster
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 mark other stressful activities in your diary as stress can mask or disrupt menopausal symptoms.
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.)
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.
This is particularly helpful as you adjust dosages.
Whether it's night sweats or daytime hot flashes, there are several ways the HysterSisters have found to stay cool.
Drink plenty of water. Carry around with you a sports bottle (refill at your own faucet with filtered water to save the expense of bottled water). Try adding flavoring with real lemon or lime or try the water flavorings bought at the grocery store.
Try a Chillow® or a Chillow Plus® at the HysterSisters Store. These are pillow inserts which work to cool you while you sleep. Buy several - one for under your head - one for under your feet.
Try a cooling scarf for during the day like a Cooling Scarf (another HysterSisters favorite product). You can also wet a scarf and wear it and rewet it as needed.
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!
Menopause and Sex
Some women complain of a loss of libido during menopause. Others find a loss of sexual function.
Its very important to talk about these changes with your doctor. It could be as simple as some tweaking of your hormone therapy.
Others may find sexual dysfunction after hysterectomy is a growing concern.
The Sexual Dysfunction Forum [Click Here] was created to be the place to discuss and find support for those struggling.
Post-Hysterectomy Sexuality Articles [Click Here] are being gathered to provide additional resources for help.
We hope you are not struggling in this area, but if you are, we hope to be a source of support and help to you as more research and product development arrive on the scene.
We've all been told that its important to take care of ourselves. Eating from the right food groups and regular exercise are important!
Did you know that cigarette smoking can alter the effects of hormone therapy and possibly cause long-term health risks? Now is the best time to stop smoking.
Did you know that participating in a regular exercise program (aerobic and weight bearing) has significant positive health benefits, even apart any other therapy or supplement?
The first best time to have started exercising and eating right was yesterday.
The second best time is today!
HysterSisters like to find reasons to celebrate and this may be another great opportunity to embrace the changes in our bodies.
It's true. Hot flashes can be the pits. Insomnia isn't any fun. Adding wrinkles to our mirrored face can be discouraging.
In the midst of the changes, adding HRT or natural alternatives, supplements and exercise, perhaps the best way to "beat menopause" is to embrace it.
It's a time of change and adjusting. Make it a time for grand changes. Change your hairstyle. Buy new makeup. Sign up for a fitness club. Go walk the dog (even if you don't have a dog!).
Make plans to make new friends, visit with old friends and fill your life with laughter.
And contemplate this deep thought: "Why doesn't estrogen come chocolate covered?"
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