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    Hormone Imbalance Treatment May Help Reduce Appetite

    Hormone Imbalance Treatment May Help Reduce Appetite

    Does menopause have you feeling hungry all the time? Hormone imbalance treatment may help curb your appetite! Many women gain weight during menopause, particularly around their midsection. Unfortunately, this weight gain may lead to being overweight or obese, which can cause some serious health consequences. However, our health providers can help you design a personalized strategy to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight.

    woman in kitchen cutting up vegetables after hormone imbalance treatment helps with her appetite

    Hormone imbalance treatment may help regulate your appetite after menopause by increasing estrogen levels in your body.

    Appetite Out of Control? Hormone Imbalance Treatment May Help

    A lot of changes happen during menopause, including appetite changes for some women. Many notice that they feel hungrier or even experience more cravings as they transition into menopause. This could be due to many different things, such as increased stress levels or emotional changes. What many people don’t realize is that hormone changes can also contribute to appetite changes during menopause

    Fortunately, if hormone imbalances are to blame, hormone imbalance treatment may be able to help regulate your appetite. For instance, low estrogen is a common issue for women during perimenopause that can cause a whole host of symptoms, from sleep issues, mood changes, and hot flashes. Estrogen also plays an important role in appetite and metabolism. So, low estrogen may increase your appetite and slow down your metabolism.

    How Estrogen Affects Appetite

    Declining estrogen levels are often to blame for many of the changes we experience during menopause. Therefore, many women choose to start an estrogen replacement therapy regimen during menopause. 

    You’ve probably heard of some common symptoms low estrogen levels during menopause can cause, like hot flashes and mood changes. Evidence now suggests that estrogen can play a role in increased appetite during menopause

    While many women have said for years that they felt hungrier after menopause, researchers weren’t sure why. Now there have been several studies about how estrogen helps regulate appetite, both during the menstrual cycle in premenopausal women as well as during and after menopause. It’s important to understand how estrogen affects appetite to understand why you might feel hungrier and how you might be able to help control your appetite and cravings.

    Estrogen Curbs Appetite in the Brain

    Scientists are still researching how estrogen affects appetite. However, some studies, including one from the Yale School of Medicine, have found that estrogen may act similarly to the hunger suppressing hormone leptin.

    Researchers in the Yale study found that estrogen regulates your metabolism, likely through the estrogen receptors in the brain. Estrogen may even use the same pathways in the brain as the hormone leptin to help reduce appetite. The study’s author theorized that low estrogen might be responsible for changes in metabolism during menopause, such as burning fewer calories and increased appetite. They also mentioned that estradiol may play a key role in helping reduce the risk of weight gain by helping regulate the appetite, especially for those who are leptin resistant.

    Estrogen can mimic a lot of the same effects of leptin, but what does that mean? First, let’s go over what leptin actually is. Leptin is a hormone made of fat cells. The more fat you have in your body, the more leptin you should have. Since fat is your body’s version of energy stores, the leptin hormone helps signal that you don’t need to continue storing as much fat. Basically, it tells your brain to cool it on appetite and ramp up your metabolism to help burn some of those energy stores. Estrogen can also help reduce appetite and increase metabolism similar to how leptin does.

    Essentially, for most women when estrogen is higher, they feel full and satisfied sooner and many have fewer cravings because of the amount of estrogen reaching the receptors in the brain. However, during menopause, your body produces less estrogen, which can make your appetite higher and your metabolism slower, as well as causing other menopause symptoms. Therefore, hormone imbalance treatment to help keep estrogen balanced may help reduce these symptoms. 

    Estrogen May Affect Hunger Hormones

    Estrogen levels can also affect your hunger hormones. For instance, chronic low estrogen levels, such as after menopause, can cause leptin resistance. Estrogen may also affect other hunger hormones like ghrelin and cholecystokinin (CCK). Ghrelin is a hormone that helps tell you when you’re hungry and need to eat. Estrogen may help suppress ghrelin, which can help reduce how hungry you feel. CCK is a hormone that helps tell you when you’re full. Estrogen can also increase the potency of CCK in your body to help you feel full and satisfied longer. Low estrogen levels can throw these hormones off as well, which can also increase your appetite during menopause. 

    Other Ways Menopause May Affect Hunger and Appetite

    Of course, there may be other reasons why many women have increased appetite during menopause. For instance, sleep deprivation can not only make you feel hungrier, but also have you reaching for fast energy, but low nutrient foods like sodas and sweets. Sleep issues are also common during menopause, especially for women who suffer from night sweats, or hot flashes at night. 

    In addition, other menopause symptoms can also cause lifestyle changes that might increase your appetite. Things like reaching for comfort foods due to mood changes, or feeling like you don’t have much energy can hold you back from getting exercise can also make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight and control your appetite and cravings. 

    Hormone Imbalance Treatment Can Help Reduce Appetite During Menopause

    If you’re struggling with symptoms of menopause, our medical team may recommend hormone replacement treatment to help. Taking estrogen may help bring your hormones back into balance to help alleviate symptoms like hot flashes and sleep disturbances that interfere with your life and overall well being. Since estrogen may play such an important role in appetite, estrogen replacement therapy may also help your body regulate appetite and boost metabolism as well. 

    Other Lifestyle Changes to Consider

    In addition to hormone therapy, our providers may also recommend healthy lifestyle changes to help you improve wellness during menopause. If you’re dealing with increased appetite during menopause, there are some things you can do to help reduce the risk of overeating.

    For instance, eating more slowly can help you better pick up on signals that your body is full. Also, eating a healthy diet with plenty of low calorie and high fiber foods may also help you control how many calories you’re taking in. Starting an exercise program can also help you burn more calories to help you manage your weight during menopause. 

    Our team takes a holistic approach to healthcare, which means we help design treatment and wellness plans that suit your lifestyle and take underlying causes of your symptoms into account. We may recommend multifaceted approaches as part of your treatment plan to help you tackle your unwanted symptoms head-on. 

    Hormone Replacement Treatment at HerKare

    When you need quality women’s health care, choose our team at HerKare. We specialize in providing treatment solutions to women at every stage of life, including during menopause. We also offer bioidentical hormone therapy to help keep your hormones in balance before, during, and after menopause. Make an appointment today and let’s talk about how you’re feeling and what we can do to help.

    HRT May Boost Serotonin to Help With Depression

    HRT May Boost Serotonin to Help With Depression

    Did you know an estimated 20% of women will experience depression during menopause? If you’re experiencing depression symptoms during menopause, HRT may be able to help. Estrogen injections may help increase the serotonin in your body, which may help boost your mood and reduce your risk for depression. 

    woman smiling with arms open because HRT helped boost her mood during menopause

    If you’re feeling depressed during menopause, treatments are available! Even HRT can help increase serotonin to help boost your mood.

    Depression is one of the most common mental health issues in the United States, and women are about twice as likely to experience it than men. In some cases, this can be attributed to changes in serotonin due to fluctuating or low estrogen levels. For example, premenstrual syndrome, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and postpartum depression have all been linked to estrogen levels. Women who experience these or have been diagnosed with depression in the past may be more likely to experience depression during menopause. However, it’s important to understand that help is available!

    HRT May Help Relieve Menopausal Depression

    There have been many studies that explore how hormones may affect depression during menopause. In many cases, hormone replacement treatment has helped women feel better and improve their mood during menopause. These treatments help replace and stabilize your hormones as your body begins to transition to post-menopause. This may help alleviate your depression symptoms if they’re tied to the hormonal changes you experience during menopause. In fact, many doctors see hormones as a first line treatment for menopausal depression because of the link between estrogen and mood.

    Estrogen may play a complex role in depression for women. For instance, there are several areas of the brain that are rich in estrogen receptors, such as the amygdala, the hypothalamus, and the hippocampus. Each of these parts of the brain plays a role in regulating your emotions. They all also have estrogen receptors. In fact, some studies have found that women using hormones for menopause symptoms may have larger hippocampuses. 

    However, another potential link between low estrogen levels during menopause and depression is its relationship with serotonin. Serotonin is an important chemical for mood and estrogen levels may play a key role in your serotonin levels during menopause.

    Why Might Menopause Bring on Depression?

    Menopause is complex, so there are many different reasons why you might experience depression during this time. Low levels of estrogen and serotonin may contribute to depression during menopause. 

    First, it’s important to define depression. You might think of sadness when you think of depression, and that can definitely play a role! However, sadness doesn’t always mean depression. For instance, you might feel sad when you’re under a lot of stress, or not getting a promotion you’ve been vying for. It’s also completely normal to feel sad when your children leave the nest. This type of sadness, while unpleasant, is normal. It typically doesn’t last long periods of time and you can often find relief from talking to someone, journaling, or even crying. 

    Depression, on the other hand, is a mental health problem that can last for long periods of time and may interfere with your life. For example, you may not enjoy the activities that you used to, or have a hard time focusing on work. 

    Generally speaking, if your low mood lasts for more than two weeks, it’s important to talk to a health care provider about your symptoms. 

    Some symptoms of depression include:

    • Low mood for most of the day, almost every day
      • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or irritability
    • Appetite changes
    • Sleep changes
    • Fatigue
    • Lack of motivation
    • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
    • Lost interest in activities you previously enjoyed

    If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms for longer than two weeks, then it’s time to book an appointment with one of our health care providers. Hormone levels might be contributing to your depression during menopause. 

    How Estrogen Affects Serotonin

    One of the main culprits for many different menopause symptoms is estrogen. For some women, low or fluctuating estrogen levels may increase the risk for depression. Estrogen may even impact your serotonin levels, which may explain why many women find HRT helps their menopausal depression symptoms.

    Researchers are still studying the complex relationship between estrogen and serotonin. However, estrogen may increase serotonin levels in your body, the number of serotonin receptors you have, and even how quickly and effectively the receptors use serotonin. Therefore, fluctuating or low estrogen during menopause may decrease serotonin in your brain and lead to low mood or even depression.

    What is Serotonin?

    Many of us have heard of serotonin, but a lot of us don’t know exactly what it is. Serotonin is a hormone that plays a really crucial role in your mood, among other things. It’s often called the “feel good” hormone, and many antidepressant medications work by increasing the amount of serotonin in your body.

    Serotonin can affect many different health factors, including:

    • Mood
    • Sleep
    • Social behavior
    • Sexual desire

    Essentially, serotonin is a pretty important chemical for your brain. Low serotonin levels may be linked to clinical depression. Therefore, there may be a link between low estrogen and serotonin levels during menopause and depression. 

    Estrogen HRT May Help Increase Serotonin to Help Fight Depression

    During menopause, your estrogen levels can fluctuate wildly and become much lower than your body is used to. This is because your ovaries are slowly transitioning to the post-menopausal state where they produce significantly less estrogen. These hormone changes can also wreak havoc on your serotonin levels. 

    If you’re experiencing depression during menopause, hormone imbalance treatment with estrogen (and progesterone if you still have your uterus) may help increase serotonin and decrease your risk for depression. Many women start hormone therapy to help with physical symptoms like hot flashes, but hormone replacement may also help alleviate emotional symptoms like depression symptoms and mood changes. Therefore, if you’ve noticed some of the signs of depression during your transition into menopause, consider talking to one of our providers about treatment options. 

    Other Possible Treatments for Depression During Menopause

    However, keep in mind that even if you’re not a good candidate for HRT, there are still treatments available! You don’t need to suffer through depression, and there’s no shame in seeking help when you need it. Depression is a serious health condition, so it’s important to address it as soon as possible. If you’re not a good candidate for hormones, some other treatment options include lifestyle changes, talk therapy, and antidepressant medications. In some cases, you might even experience depression because of other common health conditions, like an untreated thyroid disorder. Therefore, if you think you’re suffering from depression, talk to one of our health care providers about treatment options that suit your situation. 

    HRT and Treatments for Other Health Conditions at HerKare

    At HerKare, we’re a women’s clinic here to help you address your hormonal and overall wellness. We offer individualized care based on your needs. Whether you’re dealing with menopause symptoms, a hormone imbalance, or just need a well woman checkup, our team is here for you. Book an appointment today with our caring, compassionate medical team!

    Kegel Exercises & Menopause: Exercise the Pelvic Floor

    Kegel Exercises & Menopause: Exercise the Pelvic Floor

    Did you know doing Kegel exercises after menopause offers many benefits? Many women’s health care professionals recommend women do these pelvic floor exercises daily to help prevent many common issues during menopause. Talk to our provider about whether Kegel exercises are right for you and how to include them in your lifestyle.

    middle aged woman sitting on porch drinking coffee smiling after talking to a women's health care provider about her health

    Talk to our women’s health care professionals about Kegel exercises. They may help prevent uncomfortable symptoms and conditions during menopause.

    What Are Kegel Exercises? Why Might a Women’s Health Care Provider Recommend Them?

    Never heard of Kegel exercises before? These are essentially exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor helps support the organs in your pelvis, such as the uterus, bladder, rectum, and vagina. 

    With age, these muscles can start to become weaker. What’s more, lower estrogen levels during menopause can also contribute to a weak pelvic floor. This puts you at risk for many different issues, such as pain during sex, difficulty controlling your bladder or bowels, or even uterine prolapse. 

    Some other things that might contribute to weak pelvic muscles include:

    • Being overweight
    • Chronic cough
    • Chronic constipation

    Fortunately, Kegel exercises can help make your pelvic floor stronger and are fairly easy to incorporate into your every day routine. 

    Kegel exercises were developed in the 1950s by a gynecologist named Arnold Kegel. He studied the use of pelvic floor exercises for women with urinary incontinence. Today, many women’s health care professionals recommend Kegel exercises for women of all ages because of their many benefits. This is especially true for women during and after menopause who are more likely to experience pelvic floor weakening and related conditions.

    Benefits of Regular Kegel Exercises after Menopause

    So, why might you start doing Kegel exercises after menopause? Since your pelvic floor supports a lot of important organs, it’s important to keep these muscles strong. This can also help with the function of your pelvic organs. 

    Your Women’s Health Care Provider May Recommend Kegels to Help with Urinary Incontinence

    Millions of women experience urinary incontinence (UI), which can take the form of anything from small leaks when you sneeze or even having accidents because you’re unable to reach the restroom in time. Your risk for this condition increases with age and after menopause due to lower estrogen levels.

    Many women with urinary incontinence deal with a reduced quality of life. A lot of those with UI change a lot about their lives due to the condition, like avoiding going places due to fear of leakage. Many also feel embarrassed and isolated socially because of the condition.

    If you have UI, it’s important to talk to our women’s health care provider about causes and treatments. One common recommendation for urinary incontinence is doing Kegel exercises. Stronger pelvic muscles may help you hold your urine in more effectively until you can make it to the bathroom. 

    One study from 2018 even found that regular pelvic floor exercises helped improve quality of life for those with urinary incontinence. So, Kegel exercises may be used both as a preventative measure and a treatment for urinary incontinence. 

    Reducing Your Risk for and Treating Uterine Prolapse

    Uterine prolapse is a somewhat common condition, and your risk for it goes up after menopause. This is where your uterus starts to sag lower than normal, sometimes entering the vagina (a partial prolapse) or even protruding outside of the vagina (complete prolapse).

    Some symptoms of uterine prolapse include:

    • Heaviness or pressure in the pelvis
    • Pelvic pain
    • Abdominal pain
    • Back pain
    • Painful sex
    • Frequent bladder infections
    • Unusual or excessive discharge
    • Constipation
    • Urinary leaks, frequency, and urgency

    These symptoms may also get worse when you’re standing or walking, as gravity can pull on the prolapsed uterus. 

    If you have uterine prolapse, Kegel exercises may be the recommended treatment for mild cases. In other cases, you may need surgery to remove the uterus or put it back in place. 

    However, Kegel exercises may also help reduce your risk for experiencing uterine prolapse. Generally, the reason the uterus slips down from its normal position is due to a weakened pelvic floor. Therefore, keeping these muscles strong may help provide the support needed to prevent uterine prolapse. 

    Improving Intimacy with Kegels

    Another issue Kegel exercises can help with is intimacy after menopause. As your estrogen levels start to fall, you might notice vaginal dryness or pain, especially during sex. Kegel exercises help in a few different ways. 

    First, a common reason you might experience pain during sex is due to tight vaginal muscles. Kegel exercises can help you relax these muscles so they’re not as tight and painful during sex. 

    Also, pelvic floor exercises can help increase circulation to the pelvic floor and vagina. Better blood flow to the area can help improve arousal and lubrication. In some cases, doing Kegel exercises regularly may even help improve orgasms. 

    All this can come together to help improve intimacy after menopause. So, Kegels may even help your sex life!

    How to Do Kegel Exercises

    Did you know about one-third of women who do Kegel exercises are actually doing them wrong? That means they may not get any of the benefits of doing Kegel exercises. Your women’s health clinic can help you determine whether you’re doing Kegel exercises right and offer some tips to help you with Kegels during your next checkup or appointment. However, here are some general tips that may help you learn how to do Kegel exercises.

    Find the Right Muscles

    Remember how we mentioned about a third of women aren’t doing their Kegels right? In many cases, this is because they’re actually flexing other muscles, like the buttocks, abdomen, or legs. Finding the right muscles for Kegel exercises can be a little difficult, but we do have a few tips.

    First, it might help if you lie down while you try to find the right muscles and get used to doing pelvic floor exercises. While you can do them in practically any position, like sitting at a red light, it’s much easier to contract the muscles when you’re lying down. 

    A lot of guides say that the easiest way to find the right muscles is to stop the stream of urine when you’re going to the bathroom. While this can help you find the right muscles, doing this can make it difficult to fully empty the bladder, which can cause other issues like urinary tract infections. Instead, we recommend pretending you’re trying to avoid passing gas, or to tighten your vagina around a tampon. This can help you find the right muscle group. 

    If you’re still having trouble finding the right muscles, lie down and insert a clean finger into your vagina and try to do a Kegel. You should feel the muscles tighten around your finger.

    Also, try placing a hand on your abdomen when doing your Kegel exercises. This can help you feel any unintended muscle contractions in your abdomen. If you’re contracting your abdominal muscles, there’s a good chance you’re doing your Kegel exercises wrong.

    How Often to Do Kegels?

    Once you have the hang of which muscles to contract, you can start doing them regularly to help reap the benefits of a strong pelvic floor. 

    If you’re just starting out, then you may need to work your way up to longer contractions and multiple reps. Generally, one rep is contracting the pelvic floor for three to five seconds and relaxing for three to five seconds. For most women, aim to do about ten reps two or three times a day. Once that becomes easier, you can even try mixing them up by holding for longer, like ten seconds, or even shorter, like two or three second bursts.

    Just keep in mind that doing Kegel exercises too much can make your pelvic floor muscles too tight. This can cause issues like:

    • Constipation
    • Incomplete bowel movements
    • Pelvic pain
    • Lower back pain
    • Painful sex

    If you notice these signs of a tight pelvic floor, then try giving your muscles a break from Kegels for a little while. If your symptoms don’t improve, visit our women’s health care team for help finding underlying causes, like overworking the pelvic floor muscles or even other health conditions.

    Talk to Your Women’s Health Care Providers About Staying Healthy

    At HerKare, we’re a women’s health clinic dedicated to your wellness. Our team is here to help you feel your best at every stage of life. Whether you’re looking for advice on maintaining a healthier lifestyle or need to talk about symptoms you’ve noticed, we take time to listen, understand, and work with you to find personalized health solutions for you. Be proactive about your health. Schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations today.

    How Long Should I Take Hormone Therapy?

    How Long Should I Take Hormone Therapy?

    Whether you’ve been using hormone therapy for a while or are planning to start for your menopause symptoms, you might wonder how long you should take it. This is all personal to you, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

    three happy women on hormone therapy for menopause symptoms

    Hormone therapy is personalized to you, so treatment may be different for every woman.

    Recommended Timelines for Menopausal Hormone Therapy

    To start, let’s look at some general guidelines and recommendations. One of the most common recommendations is to use HRT at the lowest dose and for the least amount of time needed to help relieve menopause symptoms. This means it’s individualized to you, your symptoms, and treatment goals.

    According to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), benefits for hormone replacement therapy for menopause generally outweigh the risks for most women. If you’ve dealt with menopause symptoms, you might know what we’re talking about. Hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and more can take a toll on your health and quality of life. 

    In the past, recommendations were to use hormones for less than five years and stop completely before you turn 60. In fact, most women do successfully stop hormone replacement therapy within five years. However, NAMS and most healthcare professionals have updated their guidelines to be more personalized. Now, older women can stay on hormones after 60 if needed for symptom relief. 

    While most women notice their symptoms go away a few months or years after menopause, others have persistent symptoms that can interfere with their lives. For instance, hot flashes can last ten to twenty years after menopause. In these cases, stopping hormones could lead to dealing with symptoms that affect your wellbeing, so you might choose to use hormones for longer or find other treatments to help. 

    If you do choose to take hormones for longer than five years, then you and our provider will talk about benefits and risks to find a solution that suits you. For example, maybe it’s time for a lower dose, or even finding alternative treatments to help with your symptoms, or maybe it makes the most sense to continue with hormone treatments. 

    When to Stop Hormone Therapy: Talk to Your Doctor

    As we’ve mentioned, hormone replacement should be individualized to each woman. That’s why it’s so important to talk to the doctor about your specific situation. Our providers can help you decide the best time to start or stop hormones for menopause symptoms. We tailor your treatment to you and your needs. 

    If you’re thinking about stopping HRT, our providers can help you determine the risks and benefits. We can also help you determine when and how to stop as well as help you along the way. 

    Symptoms May Come Back When Stopping Treatment

    One of the risks of stopping hormone therapy is that your symptoms could return. For example, if you started hormones to help with hot flashes and sleep problems, they might come back after you stop using hormones.

    When stopping HRT, some women don’t have their symptoms return, while some do. In some cases, they may return but be much more manageable than before. In other cases, they may be just as severe as the day you started hormone treatments for your symptoms. 

    Some symptoms you might experience when stopping hormones include:

    • Hot flashes
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Mood changes
    • Depressive symptoms

    If these occur, our providers work with you to find a treatment solution for your needs. For instance, it might mean staying on therapy, gradually weaning off hormones, or even non-hormonal treatments. It’s important to understand that there are treatment options! Finding strategies and treatments to help manage your symptoms may help you successfully stop hormone therapy, or it may not be the right time for you to stop. Whatever the case, our team is here to help you feel your best and take care of your health. 

    Tapering off of HRT

    When you decide to stop hormones, you can stop suddenly or you can taper off of treatment. Once again, there is no right answer for all women who want to stop taking hormones. However, most doctors recommend tapering. 

    Tapering off of HRT involves slowly reducing your dose to nothing over a period of time. You can do this by lowering the dose, taking fewer doses each week, or a combination of both. Our provider will work with you to figure out which option is best for you. 

    Most commonly, tapering involves reducing the number of hormones you take by about 10% each week. This may help your body adjust to the lack of estrogen and progesterone in your bloodstream. 

    Also, if your symptoms return after tapering down to a certain level, we may recommend staying on that dose until your symptoms subside before reducing the dose again. This may help you feel more comfortable and help reduce the risk of lowering your quality of life due to menopause symptoms. 

    Tapering off of hormones can take months or even a year or two, depending on your situation. For example, if your current dose is a little higher, it may take longer than someone who starts tapering at a lower dose. Also, if your symptoms return, we may recommend tapering hormone therapy more slowly than for someone who doesn’t have their symptoms return.

    If you’re planning to stop hormone treatments, our doctors can help personalize your experience to help you continue to feel your best.

    Advanced Healthcare Before, During, and After Menopause

    Even after stopping hormones for menopause, it’s still important to see our providers regularly for checkups. Getting your regular health screenings and talking about your overall health can also help you feel good and keep doing the things you love. We’re here to help with everything you need to take care of your health.

    At HerKare, our clinic is run by women for women. We’re here to help you feel your best at every stage of life. Our team listens and understands to help you find personalized treatment options that suit you and your needs. We’ll even help you understand what’s covered and share financial information to help you make a plan that suits both your lifestyle and your budget. Make an appointment today to experience advanced and caring women’s healthcare solutions from HerKare!

    Staying Healthy After Menopause

    Staying Healthy After Menopause

    Life doesn’t stop after menopause, so make sure you’re getting the women’s health care you need! Staying healthy is important for your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. You’re in control and we’re here to help! Our providers are here to help you understand your health risks and help reduce them with healthy lifestyle changes and quality healthcare services.

    Health Risks After Menopause

    Most women reach menopause around age 51. Around this time, due to normal aging and low estrogen levels, your risks for some health conditions go up. This might mean making some changes and working with your women’s health clinic to reduce your risks. It can also mean getting regular screenings to help with early detection and treatment. Whatever the case, we’re here to help you take control of your health. 

    Around this time, your risks increase for conditions like:

    • Osteoporosis
    • Heart disease
    • Obesity
    • Urinary incontinence
    • Dry skin
    • High blood pressure
    • Cholesterol
    • Diabetes

    This might seem pretty frightening, but the good news is there are many things you can do to help reduce your risks. For example, making healthy lifestyle changes may help lower your risk for most of the conditions on that list. You’re in the driver’s seat and our women’s health care professionals are here to help you design a personalized plan to stay healthy after menopause.

    Maintaining (or Starting) a Healthy Lifestyle

    Around middle age, it’s more important than ever to lead a healthy lifestyle. Like we mentioned, your health risks do go up with age, so the healthier you live, the better. Getting serious about making healthy choices not only helps reduce risks for preventable conditions, but it can also help you feel healthier, stronger, more energetic, and happier. So, it’s time to make a commitment to treat your body the best you can!

    Now, even if you haven’t led the healthiest lifestyle until now, there’s still plenty you can do! It might take a little extra work and you might have to take smaller steps to get there, but you’ve got a women’s health care team on your side. Don’t forget to enlist some daily cheerleaders through friends and family to help you make healthier choices. 

    Diet After Menopause

    Eating healthy is another way you can follow a healthy lifestyle after 50. What you eat has a pretty big impact on a lot of different things, from mood and energy levels to weight gain and cholesterol levels. Making healthy diet choices empowers you to get the fuel and nutrients you need for a healthy, active lifestyle.

    What many women don’t realize is that you need fewer calories after menopause. Most women around this time lose some muscle mass as a part of normal aging. Muscles burn a lot of calories, so with less muscle tissue, you’ll likely need fewer calories.

    How many calories you need depends on a lot of different factors, so talk to our women’s health care provider about your specific needs. However, here’s a general guide:

    • 1,600 calories a day if you get a low amount of activity
    • 1,800 if you get moderate amount of activity 
    • 2,000-2,200 if you get a high amount of activity

    In addition, we recommend eating a balanced diet with foods from all five food groups each day. This can help you get a variety of foods in your diet and help you get the nutrition you need. Nutrition and vitamins after menopause are extremely important for helping reduce your health risks. For example, you need plenty of calcium and vitamin D to help keep your bones strong. This means eating a healthy diet and potentially working with our women’s health care provider to see which vitamin supplements you need. 

    Don’t forget keeping hydrated! Getting enough water each day can help with everything from dry skin to keeping your urinary tract healthy. If water isn’t appealing, you can even try infusing it with berries or other fruits to give it some flavor. 

    Exercise

    Getting plenty of exercise has so many benefits, from reducing the risk for heart disease, improving your mood, keeping your weight in check, and helping bone health. Active adults are also less likely to suffer from depression and cognitive decline! So, getting some physical activity is especially important as we age.

    Aerobic Exercise

    Two women holding bicycles after talking to their women’s health care provider about aerobic exercise after menopause

    Biking is a great way to get aerobic exercise in. Talk to our women’s health care providers about other exercises you can do!

    Most women should shoot for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week. This is about 30 minutes five days a week or 21-22 minutes every day of the week. Some aerobic exercises include:

    • Walking
    • Jogging
    • Dancing
    • Swimming
    • Biking
    • Climbing stairs or hills
    • Tennis

    How do you know if you’re getting moderate intensity aerobic exercise? Talk to someone! If you’re breathing heavily, but can still have a conversation, then you’re getting moderate intensity aerobic exercise. However, if you’re struggling to talk, then you’re getting vigorous aerobic exercise. If you like vigorous exercises more, then do those about 75 minutes a week instead.

    Strength Exercise

    Strength exercises can help keep your bones healthy and help you build muscle tissue, which offers its own benefits like burning more calories. Most women need to do strength exercises twice a week, allowing for rest time in between.

    Exercise all your major muscle groups during these sessions with 10-15 repetitions of the exercise. Some strength exercises include:

    • Lifting weights
    • Body weight exercises  (like squats and pushups)

    Consider also doing exercises that prioritize flexibility and balance. These are also helpful for daily tasks (like picking dropped items off the floor for those of us clumsy folks).

    If you’re just starting out exercising for the first time, don’t panic. Even if you can’t jump right into those recommendations, it’s okay! Make a goal to do just 10 minutes of activity each day and gradually ramp it up as you can.

    Limit Alcohol, Caffeine, Quit Nicotine

    As we age, our bodies handle certain things a little differently. That may mean it’s time to cut back on certain things or quit entirely. Things like alcohol and caffeine may affect you differently than they did before, and too much of either of these can have health impacts. Smoking can also cause serious health issues. So, we’re here to help you take control of your health and limit or quit these things entirely. 

    Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk for things like osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and more.  In some cases, it may make the most sense for you to quit, depending on your risk factors. However, if you still want to enjoy the occasional glass of wine, keep in mind that most health experts recommend drinking less than one drink a day to reduce some of the risks.

    Caffeine can also cause some negative effects for your health, so it may be time to limit your caffeine intake. It can make it hard to stay hydrated, because it’s a diuretic. It can also affect how much stress hormone your body releases, which can increase blood pressure, heart rate, and many other things. Caffeine can also interfere with your sleep schedule and make it hard to get enough sleep at night. So, if you’re having issues with these things, it may be time to cut back. 

    Smoking also has major health effects at any age, increasing your risk for heart disease, lung cancer, and so much more. If you’re a smoker, no time is better than the present for quitting. We can help you come up with strategies to help you quit!

    Regular Women’s Health Care Visits

    In addition to making healthy lifestyle changes, it’s also important to schedule regular appointments at our women’s health clinic. Routine appointments are important for helping with early detection of health conditions, screening for risks, and developing an overall plan to help you stay healthy!

    Screenings You Need 

    Health screenings help us have a conversation about your risks and overall health. Health screenings after menopause might include:

    • Blood Pressure: In most cases we do this every visit. 
    • Breast Cancer: Many women do monthly self-exams to find abnormal signs in their breasts. We also recommend a mammogram every one to two years for most women. 
    • Pap Test: Many women don’t realize they still need pap tests after menopause, but we generally recommend getting one every one to three years to help detect signs of cervical cancer.
    • Cholesterol: For most women, we do a cholesterol test to screen for high cholesterol at least every five years. This may be more frequent if your cholesterol levels are high or you have other risks.
    • Colon Cancer: Health experts recommend colon cancer screenings between ages 50 and 75. There are many different options, ranging from stool tests to colonoscopies. Each type has different benefits and drawbacks, so which you choose depends on your risk factors and preferences. 
    • Blood Sugar: For most women, you’ll need a blood sugar test every three years to test for diabetes. It may be more often if you have certain risks. This is a fasting blood test we perform at our women’s health clinic to look at how much sugar is in your blood. 
    • Bone Density Scans: Bone density scans look for issues with bone density that could lead to osteoporosis or fractures. If you’re over 50 with a history of adult fractures or you’re under 65 with certain risk factors, we may recommend a bone density test. 

    Also, it’s important to talk about vaccines and keep seeing other providers like dentists and eye doctors.

    Quality, Empowering Women’s Health Care at HerKare

    At HerKare, our team is here to help you address your health today! We take time to listen, to understand, and then to help you start feeling better. Whether you want to talk about personalized preventative health strategies or need help getting to the bottom of your symptoms, we’re here to help. Make an appointment today!

    Bioidentical Hormones for Early Menopause

    Bioidentical Hormones for Early Menopause

    Early menopause and premature menopause can sound pretty alarming, but we’re here to help! Bioidentical hormones and lifestyle changes can all help you stay healthy even if you’re going through menopause earlier than expected.

    Professional woman smiling because bioidentical hormones have helped with her early menopause

    Bioidentical hormones can help reduce symptoms and health issues of premature and early menopause to help you feel great!

    Bioidentical Hormones May Help with Early & Premature Menopause

    If you’re going through early or premature menopause, bioidentical hormones may help reduce your symptoms and improve your health. Hormones are often used to help treat symptoms like hot flashes for menopausal women, and may also help reduce or relieve your early or premature menopause symptoms. 

    Also, many doctors recommend starting a hormone replacement therapy program if you start menopause before the age of 45. This can help reduce some of the health risks associated with lower estrogen levels. 

    What is Early Menopause? What is Premature Menopause?

    Both early menopause and premature menopause happen before the the normal age range for menopause, which is between 45 and 55. The average age is about 51.

    Menopause happens when your body produces less hormones and eventually stops menstruating. You’ve officially gone through menopause when you haven’t had a period for 12 months in a row. Before this, you might have perimenopause symptoms, like irregular periods, hot flashes, mood changes, and other symptoms.

    Early menopause is when you experience menopause between ages 40 and 45. About 5% of women experience early menopause. Premature menopause, also known as premature ovarian insufficiency, is when you experience menopause before age 40. This is even more rare, affecting only about 1% of women. 

    Nonetheless, it’s important to know the signs of early and premature menopause. One of the first signs is if you haven’t had a period in three months and you’re under 45. This is a sign to schedule an appointment with one of our providers. 

    Now, missing a period for three months can be caused by a lot of different things. For example, pregnancy or even high stress levels. So, it’s important to keep this in mind and come talk to us about your symptoms. 

    Depending on your symptoms, we may use a few different things to diagnose premature or early menopause. For instance, we may talk about your symptoms, discuss family and medical history, run hormone tests, and evaluate you for underlying or contributing conditions. 

    If you are diagnosed with early menopause or premature menopause, we provide personalized treatment plans to help you stay healthy. We know diagnosis may be a shock and you might have a lot of feelings about it. However, there are many early menopause treatment options available, like bioidentical hormones, to help you live your best life!

    Symptoms

    A lot of the symptoms of early menopause and premature menopause are the same as menopause at the average age. You might notice irregular periods, skipped periods, and other symptoms. Some of these include:

    • Hot flashes
    • Night sweats
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Mood changes
    • Mental fog
    • Decreased sex drive

    For some women, early menopause symptoms come on quickly, while others experience more gradual symptoms. We’re here to listen and help you find answers. If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms and think you may be experiencing premature or early menopause, book an appointment with our healthcare providers. 

    Why do Early and Premature Menopause Happen?

    So, what actually causes early and premature menopause? At the very basic level, any time your eggs don’t mature or don’t get released, this can cause early or premature menopause. Your ovaries are responsible for this process as well as making estrogen and progesterone. When your ovaries aren’t functioning at the level they did during pre-menopause, then menopause can set in, regardless of your age. 

    There are many different things that could cause premature or early menopause. Some women have a very distinct situation that directly points to the cause. In other women, the reasons may not be entirely clear. 

    For example, women who undergo chemo or radiation treatments may be at an increased risk for early or premature menopause, as these treatments can damage the ovaries. Certain autoimmune disorders and infections can also affect ovarian function and lead to early or premature menopause. 

    Surgery to remove the ovaries or the ovaries and uterus is another common cause of early and premature menopause. 

    Who’s at Risk?

    Generally, if you’re related to women who have also experienced early or premature menopause, then you may have an increased risk of it yourself. Many experts believe that the age of menopause is genetic. Most women experience menopause within a few years of the age their mothers did. So, if your mother went through early or premature menopause, you may have a bigger risk of doing so, too. 

    Smoking is another factor that may increase the risk of early or premature menopause. It can cause damage to your ovaries. This, in turn, can lead you to experience menopause at a younger age. 

    If you’re over 35, then your risk for early or premature menopause also goes up. Premature menopause before 35 is quite rare. 

    Also, if you have genetic conditions like Turner’s Syndrome or Fragile X Syndrome, you may also be at a higher risk for early or premature menopause. 

    Bioidentical Hormones May Help Reduce Risks Associated with Early Menopause

    If you’re experiencing early or premature menopause, our providers may recommend treatment with bioidentical hormones to help replace the ones your ovaries aren’t producing anymore. The North American Menopause Society recommends women who experience early or premature menopause take hormone replacement therapy until the average age of natural menopause (about 51). This is because there are many risks associated with low estrogen tied to premature and early menopause. 

    Estrogen plays some pretty important roles in the body. Women who go through early or premature menopause have lower estrogen levels earlier, which can lead to many different problems. Studies have found that women who experience early or premature menopause have an increased risk for heart disease, cognitive impairment like dementia, osteoporosis, diabetes, and even death from any cause. 

    Bioidentical hormones may help reduce these risks by providing your body with the level of estrogen your ovaries would normally produce. Bioidenticals are the same molecular structure as the hormones your body produces. We use FDA-approved bioidenticals to help treat menopause symptoms. 

    How Hormone Replacement Therapy Differs for Early and Premature Menopausal Women

    When natural menopause occurs after 45, typically hormone replacement therapy includes taking doses much lower than what your ovaries produced during pre-menopause. However, for those with early or premature menopause, we try to mimic your normal ovarian function as closely as possible. This typically means giving you doses close to the levels your ovaries would produce.

    It’s important to note that these doses still aren’t high enough to effectively prevent pregnancy. It’s a common misconception that women who go through early and premature menopause cannot get pregnant. However, you may have intermittent ovulation and an estimated 5-10% of women can still get pregnant after being diagnosed with early or premature menopause. This differs from most other women who experience menopause at an older age. Therefore, if you want to prevent pregnancy, you’ll also need to use contraceptives, such as birth control or condoms. Our providers can talk to you about this, too, to help you make the right decisions for your health. 

    Other Things Our Healthcare Providers May Recommend

    In addition to bioidentical hormones, we may also recommend other treatments or lifestyle changes to help with early or premature menopause. We’re your source for total health solutions, and we’re here to help you feel your best. Depending on your situation, our providers may also recommend vitamin supplements, diet changes, exercise, and other healthy changes to help reduce the risk of complications from early or premature menopause as well as help with your symptoms and overall well being. 

    We Listen. We Understand. We Empower you to Take Care of Your Health at HerKare

    Whether you’re experiencing unexplained symptoms or want to take part in a preventative healthcare routine, our providers at HerKare are here to help. Above all, we’re here to listen and help you improve your health. As a clinic owned and operated by women for women, we get it. Finding good healthcare shouldn’t be frustrating or frightening! Whether you’re looking for advice for staying healthy or are interested in testosterone replacement therapy for your declining sex drive, we’re here to help and discuss your options. Book an appointment now at a HerKare location near you for caring, compassionate, high quality care.