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    Can Estrogen Replacement Therapy Help with Exercising?

    Can Estrogen Replacement Therapy Help with Exercising?

    We all know exercise is important for health. Yet, many people don’t get enough exercise on a regular basis for one reason or another. Several surveys and studies have also found that women are typically much less active after menopause than before menopause. Many scientists believe this may be due to hormone changes during menopause, particularly lower estrogen levels. Researchers are still studying the relationship between estrogen and activity levels. However, some studies suggest estrogen replacement therapy may help you feel more motivated and may even increase your capacity to work out. 

    Why Exercise is Important During and After Menopause

    woman exercising after beginning estrogen replacement therapy

    Many women exercise less after menopause, but can estrogen replacement therapy help with exercising?

    Before we learn more about how estrogen affects exercise, let’s talk about why exercise is so important as we get older and approach menopause. There are many reasons to be physically active throughout your life, including weight management, increasing muscle tone, getting stronger, and improving your overall health. Regular exercise is even more important as you reach menopause to help counteract certain health risks that increase around this time.

    As hormone levels begin to decline, bone density and lean muscle mass begin to decline as well, while body fat can increase. Around this time in a woman’s life, there’s also a higher risk for many chronic diseases as well as cardiovascular disease. Engaging in an active lifestyle can help reduce these risks for many people. Regular physical activity helps promote bone health and muscle mass and can also help with body fat management. Exercise in later life can help improve and preserve flexibility and mobility and can also improve heart health. Regular exercise has also been linked to fewer instances of chronic diseases common as we get older. 

    In addition to physical health, exercise can also be helpful for other areas of well-being, such as mental health. Being physically active can also boost energy and mood and can even help combat some of the symptoms of menopause, such as insomnia. Overall, exercise can be an important part of maintaining quality of life as we get older. 

    Despite knowing that exercise is helpful for many areas of health, many women have a difficult time exercising on a regular basis, particularly after menopause. There may be many reasons for this, but some researchers believe hormonal imbalances may be a factor. Many studies are researching hormones, exercise, and whether estrogen replacement therapy after menopause can help improve activity levels for some women.

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy Improves Menopause Symptoms that Make it Hard to Work Out

    Menopause can cause many symptoms that can make everyday life difficult or even downright impossible. Hot flashes, insomnia, fatigue, and depression are all common symptoms of menopause that affect your quality of life. These also frequently make it difficult to exercise, which may explain why many women are more sedentary after menopause. It’s easy to understand why you might have a hard time going to the gym when you’re experiencing such troublesome symptoms. Working up a sweat can be anxiety-inducing if you’re already suffering from frequent and severe hot flashes. Insomnia and fatigue can leave you feeling worn out, making a workout sound plain exhausting. Menopause depression can zap your motivation for getting your heart pumping with a quick exercise routine. This is one theory behind why lower activity levels tend to coincide with declining estrogen levels during menopause

    The good news is hormone replacement therapy relieves many women’s menopause symptoms. Hormone therapy helps replace some of the hormones lost during menopause, which may improve your symptoms. As menopause symptoms improve, many people find it easier to take part in regular exercise for your health and well-being. This may be one explanation behind why menopausal women who use estrogen replacement therapy tend to be more active than those who don’t according to research.

    Hormone Replacement Therapy with Estrogen May Act on the Brain to Increase Exercise Motivation

    However, there are other theories behind how hormones affect exercise after menopause. Some believe estrogen may have a more direct effect on exercise. A new study suggests estrogen may act on the brain to improve motivation for exercise. The study looked at estrogen levels and physical activity levels in female mice to determine if hormones play a role in exercise. 

    The urge to exercise begins in the brain. You feel motivated to exercise, so you act on that motivation. There are also many estrogen receptors in the brain, which may affect your impulse to work out. The study looked at how estrogen affected brain processes through a specific gene. Melanocortin-4 receptor gene (Mc4r), is a gene that plays an important role in energy regulation, food intake, body weight, and the motivation for physical activity. Estrogen binds to the Mc4r receptor and can help activate it. With higher estrogen levels, Mc4r caused increased protein production for the mice in the study. Those mice with higher estrogen levels tended to be more physically active than the mice with lower estrogen. 

    Researchers are still studying the effects of estrogen on the brain. However, the scientists in the study believe this may offer some evidence that estrogen is important for exercise motivation. The researchers noted that while the study involved mice, humans have similar anatomies, physiologies, and genetics. Therefore, they believe estrogen in humans may have similar effects on exercise and physical activities. They noted that their research may suggest that estrogen replacement therapy may help improve motivation levels for exercise for menopausal women. 

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy Can Increase Exercise Capacity

    Menopause can also affect how difficult exercise is, which may explain why many women are less active after menopause. Research shows that menopause may reduce exercise tolerance and oxygen consumption during exercise. This can make it feel harder to exercise, often leading to feeling more breathless, feeling muscle weakness, and other symptoms of low exercise tolerance, which can be discouraging and lead many women to exercise less than before menopause. 

    One study looked at exercise capacity for women before and after menopause. The researchers looked at many different factors to determine exercise capacity, which is the maximum amount of activity you can keep up. Some of the factors included the dilation of blood vessels, maximum workload, and peak oxygen consumption. Some of the group received estrogen replacement therapy for three months. The study found that estrogen significantly increased exercise capacity based on the factors they measured. The HRT group even achieved similar results to the pre-menopausal women in the study after just three months of hormone therapy. Therefore, this is just one other way estrogen may help with exercise after menopause. 

    Hormone Imbalance Treatment and Menopause Care at HerKare

    Our team at HerKare is committed to providing quality healthcare for women at all stages of life. We help with everything from hormone imbalance treatment to well woman care for patients of all ages. We believe in empowering women to take an active role in their health. Our clinic is owned and managed by women for women. We understand the need for convenient care from healthcare professionals that listen to you and take time to understand. Let us help you feel like yourself and feel good again. Book an appointment at one of our clinic locations to get started with the HerKare process.

    Talk to Your Gynecologist about Postmenopausal Bleeding

    Talk to Your Gynecologist about Postmenopausal Bleeding

    Any type of vaginal bleeding after menopause is a sign to visit our gynecologist. Vaginal bleeding is not normal after you have reached menopause, which is 12 months without a period. If you’re experiencing postmenopausal bleeding, this is typically a symptom of an underlying health conditions, some of which can be serious or life-threatening. Let’s talk about what to do if you noticed postmenopausal bleeding, what to expect at our clinic, and some common causes of vaginal bleeding after menopause.

    Vaginal Bleeding After Menopause? Visit our Gynecologist

    woman sitting alone wondering if she needs to see a gynecologist for postmenopausal bleeding

    Vaginal bleeding after menopause isn’t normal. Your gynecologist can help address your symptoms.

    Any time you experience vaginal bleeding after menopause, it’s important to discuss your symptoms with a women’s health care professional. While there is no reason to panic, you should take abnormal vaginal bleeding seriously, whether you’re experiencing light spotting or heavy flow.

    An estimated 4% to 11% of women experience postmenopausal bleeding for one reason or another. Many women mistakenly believe that a little bleeding after menopause is no cause for concern and put off getting healthcare. However, we advise scheduling a gynecological services appointment as soon as possible to talk about your symptoms. While it may be something benign, postmenopausal bleeding can also be a sign of serious conditions like endometrial cancer. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so talk to one of our providers about abnormal bleeding.

    What Will the Gynecologist Do for Postmenopausal Bleeding?

    It’s understandable that you might be concerned about visiting our gynecologist to talk about postmenopausal bleeding. We realize that knowing what to expect during your appointment can help you feel more prepared and may help you feel better before and during your appointment. If you’re experiencing vaginal bleeding after menopause, our treatment providers may recommend a few things to help with diagnosis. In addition to talking about your symptoms, medical history, and relevant family history, the gynecologist may recommend different exams and procedures to help find the root cause.

    Our Gynecologist will Likely Perform a Pelvic Exam

    If you’re experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding, our gynecologist will typically perform a pelvic exam. Pelvic exams can help our providers assess the health of your reproductive organs, like the vagina, uterus, cervix, and ovaries. During the exam, our provider may also screen for cervical cancer with a Pap test if you have abnormal vaginal bleeding.

    Our Gynecologist May Recommend an Ultrasound

    In some cases, our gynecologist may recommend a pelvic ultrasound to get a closer look at your pelvic and to help determine the source of your postmenopausal bleeding. This ultrasound may be abdominal or it may be transvaginal. Transvaginal ultrasounds use a thin imaging “wand” placed inside the vagina to get more detailed pictures of your pelvic organs.

    Our Gynecologist May Recommend Diagnostic Surgery

    While less common, sometimes our doctors may recommend a diagnostic surgery called a hysteroscopy. This procedure allows the doctor to look inside your uterus with a small camera to look for potential causes of postmenopausal bleeding. During the procedure, the doctor may also take a tissue sample to send to the lab for testing to help diagnose the source of your abnormal vaginal bleeding.

    Talk to Our Gynecologist about Possible Causes of Postmenopausal Bleeding

    There may be many causes of your postmenopausal bleeding. Some of these causes are more serious than others. Visiting our women’s health clinic can help identify underlying causes of your postmenopausal vaginal bleeding and help determine a course of treatment to help relieve your symptoms.

    Uterine or Cervical Polyps

    Polyps are small, noncancerous growths. If you’re suffering from vaginal bleeding after menopause, polyps in the uterus or cervix may be to blame. Polyps can easily become irritated and bleed, which can lead to spotting or even heavy vaginal bleeding. Uterine and cervical polyps are pretty common and are unlikely to become malignant, but when they cause symptoms like vaginal bleeding, generally gynecologists recommend removing them with a surgical procedure.

    Vaginal Atrophy

    Low estrogen levels during menopause can cause vaginal atrophy, which is where the skin becomes thin and dry. Vaginal atrophy can make the vagina more delicate and more prone to tears which can lead to vaginal bleeding. For instance, if you experience vaginal bleeding after sex, it may be due to friction. If this is the cause of your postmenopausal bleeding, our treatment providers may recommend vaginal moisturizers, vaginal estrogen, or lubricants to help.

    Thickening Uterine Lining

    In some cases, you may experience endometrial thickening after menopause that causes vaginal bleeding. This is called endometrial hyperplasia and while it is not cancer, it can increase your risk for endometrial or uterine cancer. Depending on your risk factors, our gynecologist may recommend taking progesterone to thin out your uterine lining. For women with higher risks for cancer, you may consider a hysterectomy as treatment.

    Some Medications

    Certain medications can also cause vaginal bleeding as a side effect. For instance, some women experience postmenopausal bleeding when taking blood thinners. Postmenopausal women taking hormone replacement therapy can experience vaginal bleeding as a side effect for the first six months of treatment. If you’re experiencing bleeding after menopause due to medications, we may explore changing your medications or recommend closely monitoring your symptoms to see if they change or get worse to determine if you may benefit from changing medications.

    Infections

    While rarer, endometrial infections can cause inflammation and vaginal bleeding after menopause. Doctors will generally prescribe antibiotics to help treat bacterial uterine infections. After treatment, your symptoms such as abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge should improve.

    Sexually Transmitted Infections

    Another rare cause of postmenopausal bleeding are sexually transmitted infections. Infections like chlamydia or gonorrhea can cause inflammation that may lead to abnormal vaginal bleeding. In these cases, treating the STI generally stops the postmenopausal bleeding.

    Endometrial Cancer

    While it’s rare, postmenopausal bleeding can be a sign of endometrial cancer. Endometrial cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the lining of the uterus. About 10% of women who experience postmenopausal bleeding have endometrial cancer. However, an estimated 90% of women with endometrial cancer experience postmenopausal vaginal bleeding. Therefore, while endometrial cancer isn’t a common cause of postmenopausal bleeding, it can be an early warning sign of endometrial cancer. When caught early, the five-year survival rate is approximately 95%. In later stages, the survival rate is much lower. Because of the seriousness of endometrial cancer, most doctors recommend visiting a gynecologist to talk about postmenopausal bleeding and any other symptoms you’re experiencing.

    Gynecological and Women’s Health Care from HerKare

    Our health professionals at HerKare are here to empower you to take control of your health. We provide total women’s health care for every stage of life. Whether you need preventative care or are experiencing concerning symptoms, we offer quality care in our warm, welcoming clinics. As a clinic owned and operated by women for women, we are here to provide health care that suits your lifestyle. Make an appointment at one of our clinics today.

    Testosterone Replacement Therapy & Sex Drive for Women

    Testosterone Replacement Therapy & Sex Drive for Women

    Many women notice that their sex drive starts to decline over time, particularly after menopause. In some cases, this may be due to lower testosterone levels. Testosterone is an important hormone in your body that plays a key role in libido. Some studies suggest that testosterone replacement therapy may help women improve low sex drive due to testosterone deficiency.

    woman with man after she began testosterone replacement therapy for low sex drive

    Testosterone replacement therapy may help increase your sex drive if you’re suffering from testosterone deficiency.

    As we age, sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone start to decline. Testosterone is mostly made in your ovaries, though your adrenal glands, fat cells, and skin cells may also produce some testosterone. While women produce a lot less testosterone compared to men (about 1/10 to 1/20 the amount), low testosterone levels for women can still impact your health and your sex life.

    Testosterone in Women

    While we commonly think of testosterone as a male hormone, women also need testosterone for many reasons. Testosterone is necessary for producing red blood cells, maintaining bone density, and also plays an important role in sex drive. When it comes to libido, the hormone testosterone can act on our brains to increase sexual thoughts and desires. It can also increase blood flow to the genitals to enhance sensitivity in the vagina and clitoris. This may also affect libido as well as sexual satisfaction.

    However, testosterone levels begin to decline as we age, particularly as we reach the perimenopause state in the late 30s and 40s. During this time, the ovaries start to slow down hormone production for testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. This can cause hormone levels to fluctuate and gradually decline leading up to menopause. With lower testosterone levels in your body, you might experience symptoms like low libido. Researchers have found a connection between low testosterone in women and lower sex drive. Studies have even found that women with low testosterone may have less sex on average than those with normal testosterone levels. Because of this connection, many women’s hormone care programs include testosterone to help improve sex drive and overall quality of life.

    How Does Testosterone Replacement Therapy Affect Sex Drive?

    Low libido due to testosterone deficiency can be distressing for many women. Some people experience stress and even relationship problems because of libido changes. Therefore, decreased sex drive can affect your quality of life in many ways. Many people mistakenly believe that low sex drive is a normal part of aging, but this isn’t necessarily true. Low sex drive can be caused by treatable conditions, like hormone changes during menopause. For instance, testosterone replacement therapy may help improve your symptoms.

    Researchers are still studying the effects of testosterone replacement therapy for women. However, several studies have examined the link between testosterone and sex drive in women with interesting results. Studies have found that testosterone replacement therapy can increase several factors of sex drive and sexual satisfaction for postmenopausal women with low testosterone. Research suggests that testosterone can increase sexual desire, arousal, orgasmic response, pleasure, and even self-image based on interview responses. After beginning testosterone, many study participants also feel less distressed about their sexual function. Therefore, the evidence suggests testosterone therapy may help women who experience severely low sex drive after menopause.

    The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) recognizes that testosterone replacement therapy for women may help some women improve sexual function. While testosterone for women is an off-label use, doctors may prescribe it to help with sex drive and sexual function. If you begin using testosterone therapy, NAMS recommends using the lowest dose for the shortest amount of time to help with symptoms. They also recommend discussing the risks and benefits thoroughly with a medical provider. After discussing the particulars, you and our doctors may determine to use testosterone therapy for better sex drive during and after menopause.

    How Does Testosterone Replacement Therapy for Low Libido in Women Work?

    If you’re experiencing low sex drive, there may be many different factors at play. Sexual desire, arousal, and satisfaction are all very complex. Therefore, pinpointing the cause of low sex drive can be difficult. There may even be several different causes of your low libido. It’s also necessary to note that libido can change for many reasons and a lower sex drive occasionally isn’t necessarily abnormal. For instance, if you have a lower libido during a stressful project at work, but your symptoms improve after you complete the project, then you may have nothing to worry about. However, if you have persistent low libido that worries you or interferes with your quality of life, you should talk to one of our providers about your symptoms.

    If you’re suffering from low libido, one of the first steps most doctors recommend is ruling out other causes. For instance, some other reasons you might experience low sex drive that aren’t related to testosterone include:

    •       Low estrogen
    •       Low progesterone
    •       Depression
    •       Anxiety
    •       Fatigue
    •       Vaginal dryness
    •       Painful sex
    •       Relationship problems
    •       Some medications
    •       Other health problems like diabetes or hypothyroid

    It’s important to identify underlying causes of low libido symptoms to find treatment solutions personalized to you. Some other treatments for severely low sex drive might include lifestyle changes, treating other health conditions, mental health treatments, or even couple’s counseling for relationship problems. For libido changes and other symptoms after menopause, our doctors may recommend beginning estrogen replacement therapy. If other treatments don’t work, or if no other explanation is found for your low sex drive, then it may be due to low testosterone levels. In these cases, you may benefit from testosterone replacement therapy.

    Beginning Testosterone Replacement Therapy for Low Sex Drive

    While considering potential causes of low sex drive, our providers may recommend performing a blood test to determine how much testosterone is in your blood. Normal testosterone levels for women are between 15 and 75 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl). If you have low testosterone levels in your blood and you’re experiencing low sex drive that interferes with your life or causes you distress, our providers may recommend beginning testosterone replacement therapy.

    The goal of testosterone replacement therapy is to bring testosterone levels to normal ranges. Because hormones like estrogen and testosterone hold each other in balance, it’s common to pair testosterone with estrogen replacement therapy as well to help prevent testosterone dominance. Therefore, in most cases your treatment program will include both estrogen and testosterone bioidentical hormones.

    While taking testosterone treatments for sex drive, our team monitors your health to help optimize your treatment. We may track your symptoms, take blood draws to evaluate your testosterone levels, and assess other health markers like blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Our team also monitors you for common side effects of testosterone replacement therapy, such as increased facial and body hair, increased LDL cholesterol, or mild acne. Our goal is to help you feel your best and find treatment solutions that work for you and your lifestyle.

    Quality Women’s Hormone Care at HerKare

    Our team at HerKare offers quality health care for every stage of your life. After menopause, we understand that many of the symptoms can interfere with daily life. We offer personalized hormone care to help alleviate your symptoms so you can feel your best. Our clinics are owned and managed by women for women, and we believe in empowering you to address your health. We listen to you and work with you to get to the bottom of your symptoms. If you’re suffering from low sex drive or other menopause symptoms, help is available at our clinics. Make an appointment today to start the path toward feeling better.

    What to Know About Vaginal Yeast Infections

    What to Know About Vaginal Yeast Infections

    An estimated 75% of women will experience at least one vaginal yeast infection during their lifetimes. Some women experience yeast infections more frequently during and after menopause, often due to hormone changes. In some cases, other conditions you might experience during menopause can also increase the risk for vaginal infections like yeast infections. If you’re experiencing yeast infection symptoms, schedule a gynecological services appointment with our team to discuss diagnosis and treatment. Let’s go over some information you should know about yeast infections to help protect your health. 

    What is a Vaginal Yeast Infection?

    woman smiling after getting gynecological services for chronic yeast infections

    Vaginal yeast infections are an overgrowth of yeast. Gynecological services can help with diagnosis and treatment of yeast infections.

    First and foremost, you might be wondering what a vaginal yeast infection is. Many of us have heard of them or even experienced them without really knowing what they are. To understand what a yeast infection is, it’s important to understand that the vagina is like its own ecosystem. A healthy vagina typically has an acidic pH with a balance of bacteria and yeast. Those bacteria and yeast actually help keep your vagina healthy! However, if the balance between them gets thrown off for one reason or another, then the yeast cells can start to multiply and take over. When this happens, you experience a yeast infection. If you think you have a yeast infection, gynecological services can help diagnose the problem and one of our providers can prescribe treatment for the yeast infection.

    Symptoms of Yeast Infections

    There are many signs that can point to a yeast infection. Some common symptoms include:

    • Itching
    • Swelling
    • Redness
    • Pain during sex
    • Burning during urination
    • Soreness
    • Rash
    • White, clumpy discharge (like cottage cheese)
    • Watery discharge 

    However, it’s also important to keep in mind that other conditions can cause similar symptoms. This can make self-diagnosis tricky, which is why we recommend visiting one of our gynecological service providers if you’re experiencing yeast infection symptoms.

    Causes of Yeast Infections

    There are many potential causes of yeast infections. For instance, taking certain antibiotics can raise your risk for yeast infections because they can reduce the number of healthy bacteria in your vagina responsible for keeping yeast cells in check. Other common causes include stress, lack of sleep, and uncontrolled blood sugar if you have diabetes. 

    Hormone imbalances may also be a risk factor for yeast infections. Hormones can have a pretty big impact on your vagina’s delicate microbiome. Fluctuations in estrogen can lead to an overgrowth of yeast and eventually a yeast infection. Therefore, some women notice that they get yeast infections more often during perimenopause when hormone levels start to change. During this time period, vaginal atrophy is also pretty common, which can also increase your risk for vaginal infections. We’ll discuss these common menopause-related causes in more depth a little later. 

    In many cases it can be difficult to determine the exact cause of your yeast infection. Also, in some cases they may not be preventable. It’s important to talk to one of our gynecological treatment providers about your symptoms and what you can do to help avoid yeast infections. Some general tips involve following good hygiene practices, keeping your vulva clean and dry, and avoiding potentially irritating things like scented bath products. Our treatment providers can help determine other changes that may help your specific situation.

    Why Get Gynecological Services for Yeast Infections?

    Some women choose to self-diagnose and self-treat yeast infections with over the counter medications. However, our team generally recommends scheduling an appointment with a gynecological services provider if you think you have a yeast infection. 

    There are several reasons to visit one of our treatment providers for a yeast infection. Self-diagnosing a yeast infection can be quite difficult. Several studies have found that women frequently misdiagnose themselves with yeast infections. One study showed evidence that only 34% of the study participants who purchased over-the-counter yeast infection treatments had accurately diagnosed themselves with a yeast infection.

    Many other conditions can have similar symptoms to yeast infections. For instance, bacterial vaginosis, urinary tract infections, or even allergies from soaps or skincare products. Seeing a doctor can help rule out other causes of your symptoms and help verify that you have a yeast infection. One way to diagnose a yeast infection is to perform a lab test of your discharge to look for an overgrowth of yeast cells. 

    In addition, most over-the-counter yeast infection treatments are geared toward the most common type of yeast that causes yeast infections. However, some women may have a yeast infection from another type of yeast. Therefore, OTC treatments may not work for you if your yeast infection is due to another strain of yeast. In these cases, one of our providers can help identify the specific type of yeast and prescribe treatments specifically for that type of yeast infection. This can help you get the right type of treatment rather than deal with ongoing symptoms from using the incorrect anti-fungal treatments.

    Can Menopause Lead to Yeast Infections?

    Vaginal yeast infections can occur at any age. However, some women notice they get more yeast infections during and after menopause. Some common conditions you may experience during menopause can increase your risk for yeast infections. In addition, some of the symptoms of menopause can make you more vulnerable to yeast infections.

    Vaginal Atrophy

    We mentioned vaginal atrophy earlier as a potential risk factor for vaginal infections. Vaginal atrophy occurs when the tissues of your vagina become thin and dry. It’s pretty common with low estrogen levels during and after menopause. Vaginal atrophy may increase the risk for yeast infections, as it can change your vagina’s pH, bacterial levels, and yeast levels. These changes from vaginal atrophy can make your vagina more vulnerable to yeast overgrowth and yeast infections.

    Also, some women even mistake vaginal atrophy symptoms for yeast infections. Vaginal atrophy can cause itching, irritation, pain during sex, and several other similar symptoms to yeast infections. This can lead some women to believe they have a yeast infection when they don’t. Gynecological services such as a pelvic exam and lab testing of vaginal discharge can help determine if you have a yeast infection or if there may be other causes of your symptoms. 

    Other Common Conditions During Menopause that can Lead to Yeast Infections

    Also, there are other conditions you might experience during menopause that can increase your risk for yeast infections. For instance, many women experience frequent urinary tract infections during menopause due to low estrogen levels and vaginal atrophy. The most common treatment for UTIs involves taking antibiotics, which, as we mentioned earlier, can increase the risk for yeast infections. If you’re struggling with frequent UTIs after menopause, you may also experience more frequent yeast infections due to the antibiotics. 

    In addition, poor sleep can lower your immune system and increase your risk for yeast infections. Many women experience poor sleep during menopause due to hot flashes and night sweats. Frequent sleep issues during menopause may lead to vaginal yeast infections as well. Therefore, there may be many factors at play if you’re experiencing yeast infections during menopause, such as menopause symptoms that can affect your health. 

    Gynecological Services Can Help Address Underlying Causes of Yeast Infections

    Sometimes yeast infections just happen, but symptoms should go away with treatment. However, if you have four or more yeast infections per year, you might have chronic yeast infections. This is important to discuss with one of our women’s health care providers, as there may be underlying causes to chronic yeast infections.

    Treating underlying conditions may help reduce the number of yeast infections you get. For instance, if you’re struggling with vaginal atrophy after menopause, we may recommend estrogen or vaginal creams to help moisturize and thicken vaginal tissues, which may help reduce the number of yeast infections you experience. In other cases, our providers may recommend taking yeast infection medications for a longer period of time to help with chronic yeast infections.

    One of the first steps toward getting help for frequent yeast infections is scheduling an appointment for gynecological services from our team. Our providers can go over your medical history, symptoms, and perform examinations and tests to determine if there may be underlying causes to your yeast infections. 

    Quality Women’s Health Care and Gynecological Services at HerKare

    Our professionals at HerKare are here to help you feel your best, whether you have chronic yeast infections or need preventative well woman care. We are a women’s health clinic owned and managed by women. We take time to listen and understand what you’re feeling to help provide quality care for a wide range of conditions, from gynecological concerns to menopause symptoms. Make an appointment today to discuss how we can help you address your health.

    Low Estrogen May Increase the Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

    Low Estrogen May Increase the Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

    Low estrogen levels during menopause may put you at risk for type 2 diabetes. Hormone changes during menopause can cause a lot of worrisome and frustrating changes, from disrupting symptoms to higher risks for certain health conditions. Diabetes is a common but serious condition that can impact your overall wellbeing, and estrogen may play a role in your risk factors for this health condition. In this article, we’ll explore the connection between estrogen and diabetes. 

    Low Estrogen During Menopause May Affect Your Health

    woman with low estrogen smiling because of treatment solutions from HerKare

    Low estrogen can cause many symptoms and health risks, but treatment solutions are available from our providers.

    Menopause is a natural stage of life for women, but that doesn’t mean it comes without any risks. Unfortunately, declining and fluctuating hormones during menopause can lead to many symptoms and health risks. 

    For instance, some of the symptoms you may experience because of low estrogen and progesterone during menopause include:

    • Mood changes
    • Hot flashes
    • Night sweats
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Sleep problems
    • Weight gain
    • Brain fog

    Each of these symptoms can affect your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Many believe hormone levels are the cause of menopause symptoms. 

    Decreased estrogen can also affect your health in many different ways. After menopause, your risk increases for many health conditions. Some of these include heart disease, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes. Let’s look at how estrogen affects your risks for diabetes after menopause. 

    Low Estrogen May Increase Your Risk for Developing Type 2 Diabetes

    What many women don’t realize is that their risk for type 2 diabetes increases after menopause. Everyone’s risk for diabetes goes up with age, regardless of gender. However, women may be more at risk for diabetes after menopause. Researchers have theorized for years that hormone changes during menopause may play a role in that risk. Several studies suggest there may be a link between type 2 diabetes and low estrogen levels. There may be several factors at play in the connection between estrogen and diabetes. Research is still ongoing, but there are some potential explanations backed by scientific study.

    Estrogen May Affect How Your Body Uses Insulin

    Diabetes is a condition where your blood sugar is too high. With type 2 diabetes, this is typically because your body makes less insulin and because your cells become more resistant to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps your cells use sugar, but if your cells are more insulin resistant, glucose (sugar) may stay in the blood unused for energy instead. Recent research led by a team from Texas A&M University found that estrogen may affect how your body responds to insulin

    Several studies have found a potential link between low estrogen and type 2 diabetes. Yet, many couldn’t explain why. The researchers found this may be due to estrogen’s effects on liver-specific FOXO1. FOXO1 is a protein that basically binds to DNA and helps turn certain genes on or off. This particular protein helps your body regulate insulin to control blood sugar. Estrogen may help reduce how much sugar your body produces by acting on this protein. As your estrogen levels decline during menopause, FOXO1 proteins may not work as effectively to control insulin levels, which may explain the increased risk for type 2 diabetes after menopause. 

    Estrogen & Glucagon

    However, there may be other explanations behind why the risk for type 2 diabetes increases after menopause. For example, another study found that estrogen may actually target certain cells in your body that may help reduce diabetes risks. The researchers in this study found that estrogen may act on cells in the pancreas and gut that help improve your ability to use glucose. Some of the cells studied release a hormone called glucagon. Glucagon helps increase blood sugar to help prevent it from dropping too low, such as while you sleep, to help prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). However, if your body releases too much glucagon, you may have chronically high blood sugar levels, which can lead to diabetes. 

    The study actually found that estrogen affects the cells responsible for making and releasing glucagon. They saw estrogen helped reduce glucagon production and increased GCP1 levels, which help increase insulin in your body, block glucagon secretion, and can also help you feel full. This is another way estrogen may help keep blood sugar levels in check and reduce the risks of type 2 diabetes. However, since estrogen levels decline during menopause, women may lose some of this protection against high glucagon levels. 

    Low Estrogen May Increase Visceral Fat in Your Body

    You may know that obesity is a common risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. However, many don’t realize that how fat is distributed in your body may also play a role in your risk for diabetes. For instance, some researchers believe that large amounts of visceral fat increases the risk for metabolic syndrome, which can cause insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Visceral fat is fat found in the abdominal cavity around your organs like the stomach, liver, and intestines. You might be wondering what this has to do with hormones and menopause. Well, lower estrogen levels after menopause can affect how fat is distributed in your body. You may have more visceral fat if you have decreased estrogen levels, increasing the risk for diabetes and many other health conditions. 

    Gaining more visceral fat doesn’t even necessarily mean that you gain weight. Hormone changes during menopause may simply affect how your body distributes fat. So, even if you don’t gain weight, you may find that you have more visceral fat after menopause, which can also increase your risk for diabetes.

    Other Symptoms that Affect Your Blood Sugar

    In addition, several of the symptoms of menopause can affect your blood sugar, which may increase your risk for type 2 diabetes. For instance, many women gain weight during menopause. Being overweight or obese can raise your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, as it can make you more resistant to insulin. 

    Poor sleep is another symptom many women experience during menopause that may affect your diabetes risks. Sleep deprivation from issues like insomnia or sleep disturbances from night sweats can negatively affect your blood sugar levels.

    Therefore, there may be several different factors that affect your diabetes risk during menopause. Some of the symptoms you  might experience during menopause may indirectly affect your risks. 

    Can Hormone Imbalance Treatment Help Reduce Diabetes Risk?

    Fortunately, evidence suggests that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) during menopause may help reduce risks for diabetes. Several studies have looked at the effects of hormone replacement on diabetes risk with positive results. 

    HRT is a type of treatment many women use for symptoms of menopause. This treatment helps supplement your hormone levels as they start to decline during menopause. Generally, menopausal hormone therapy includes estrogen and progesterone, though women who have had a hysterectomy may only need estrogen. The goal of hormone therapy is to keep your hormone levels in ranges that help reduce menopause symptoms. 

    Another potential benefit of using HRT after menopause is that it may help reduce your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Several studies suggest that estrogen or combination therapy may actually help prevent diabetes and also help with glycemic control. While most medical professionals recommend using HRT only if you have troubling menopause symptoms, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes may be a secondary benefit for some women. Our treatment providers can help you weigh the benefits and risks and help you decide if hormone imbalance treatment is right for you. 

    Quality Care and HRT Solutions for Women at HerKare

    When you need holistic healthcare solutions, visit a HerKare clinic near you. We provide quality care for women at every stage of life. Whether you’re interested in discussing hormone therapy options for menopause or need preventative well woman care, our team is here to help. Our goal is to help you feel your best and help you prioritize your lifelong health. Make an appointment today to learn how our providers can help you address your health and wellness.

    Can Progesterone Replacement Therapy Help Hot Flashes?

    Can Progesterone Replacement Therapy Help Hot Flashes?

    Hot flashes and night sweats are a serious problem for many women during perimenopause and menopause. Fortunately, there are several treatment options that may help ease your symptoms. Some new research suggests that progesterone replacement therapy may be an option to reduce the severity and number of hot flashes and night sweats for some women. 

    Woman doing yoga after Progesterone Replacement Therapy reduced hot flash symptoms

    Progesterone replacement therapy can help ease hot flash symptoms so you can keep doing the things you love.

    Hot flashes can cause many issues for menopausal women. They can reduce quality of life and interrupt day-to-day activities. Hot flashes at night, also known as night sweats, often make it difficult for women to get good quality sleep. Hot flashes and night sweats are some of the most common symptoms of menopause. However, there are many treatment options available! Our providers can help find personalized treatment solutions based on your symptoms and lifestyle. In some cases, this may include hormone therapy with estrogen and/or progesterone as well as lifestyle changes and other treatments.

    What is Progesterone Replacement Therapy?

    Progesterone replacement therapy is hormone therapy using the female hormone progesterone. There are several reasons why your hormone doctor may recommend using progesterone. Typically, progesterone and estrogen are both used for menopausal hormone therapy. This is because estrogen alone can make the lining of your uterus thicker, which can increase the risk for endometrial cancer. Of course, in some cases you might take progesterone on its own without estrogen. For instance, some women use progesterone therapy during menopause when they cannot use estrogen. Bioidentical progesterone comes from plants like soy and wild yams. It’s then made into a medication your body can metabolize.

    What Does Progesterone Do?

    Progesterone plays several important roles in your body. Progesterone is a steroid hormone produced in your ovaries, like estrogen. Estrogen and progesterone are kind of like partners, performing slightly different functions and balancing each other out.

    For example, during your premenopausal years, estrogen helps thicken the lining of your uterus after your period, while progesterone helps thin the endometrium lining in preparation for pregnancy. Progesterone levels generally start to rise around ovulation, usually near the middle of your menstrual cycle. By contrast, estrogen levels usually rise following your period and begin to decline leading up to your period. Therefore, you can almost think of estrogen and progesterone as the yin and yang of female hormones. 

    Of course, while most of us know these hormones as reproductive hormones, they also do other things in your body. For instance, progesterone is a natural diuretic, which can help reduce fluid retention. Also, it may help increase the effectiveness of other hormones, like estrogen, thyroid, and testosterone. Some research even suggests that progesterone may have a calming, sedative effect on the brain. Therefore, some researchers believe it’s important for helping with good quality sleep and also improving mood. 

    More interestingly for women in perimenopause and menopause is that progesterone replacement therapy by itself may also help improve symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.

    Studies Suggest Progesterone Replacement Therapy May Help Alleviate Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

    While progesterone hasn’t been as extensively researched for menopause symptoms as estrogen has, many researchers are starting to consider how progesterone can play a role in menopause symptom relief. Several recent studies have looked at progesterone-only therapy for hot flashes and night flashes, also known as vasomotor symptoms. For instance, one study, published in the North American Menopause Society’s journal, Menopause, found that women saw approximately a 58% improvement in their hot flash symptoms with progesterone compared to just over 23% for the group who received placebo. 

    Another study from 2018 saw similar results. The study, published in the journal Climacteric, mentioned that several studies have found women’s hormone care with both estrogen and progesterone have been more effective than estrogen-only options. They also reviewed evidence from progesterone-only menopause treatment and participants who used progesterone replacement therapy saw a 55% drop in their vasomotor symptoms, as well as other evidence that progesterone alone may help with hot flashes.

    Therefore, several researchers have suggested that progesterone only treatments may help with hot flashes and sleep disturbances from night sweats. Some even explain that progesterone therapy may be an option for women who cannot take estrogen, though it’s important to discuss treatment options with one of our treatment providers to find treatments recommended for your individual circumstances. 

    Why Might Progesterone Replacement Therapy Help with Hot Flash Symptoms?

    How can we explain why progesterone may help with some women’s hot flashes and night sweats? As we mentioned, research is still ongoing, so there’s no definitive evidence. However, there are some potential explanations. 

    Menopause symptoms are frequently considered to be the result of declining hormone levels. While estrogen is most often blamed, it may be that low levels of both estrogen and progesterone may lead to uncomfortable hot flashes and night sweats. After all, both of these hormones start to decline during perimenopause, and both play some pretty vital roles in several functions, including the menstrual cycle. 

    Also, in some cases women with low progesterone levels during menopause may actually have elevated estrogen levels because progesterone cannot keep estrogen in check in the body. This may result in estrogen dominance, which may also lead to vasomotor symptoms. In these cases, taking progesterone may help bring your hormones back into balance to help reduce your symptoms. 

    In any case, it’s important to work with a healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms, medical history, and treatment options. Help is available for hot flashes and other menopause symptoms. 

    Get Quality Women’s Hormone Care from Our Team at HerKare

    When you need high quality healthcare, our team at HerKare is here to help. We are a health clinic owned and operated by women for women. Our goal is to empower you to take control of your health. Whether you’re dealing with troubling menopause symptoms or need preventative well woman care, our providers are here to help you find personalized solutions. Book an appointment today at one of our convenient locations.