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    Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Reduce Colon Cancer Risks

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Reduce Colon Cancer Risks

    Estrogen replacement therapy is commonly prescribed to women to help alleviate menopause symptoms. Many studies also point to positive health effects for women taking hormone replacement therapy for menopause. For example, one finding in many studies is that estrogen replacement therapy may reduce risks for colorectal cancers, such as colon cancer.

    Women talking about how estrogen replacement therapy can help improve their health

    Estrogen replacement therapy may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

    Currently, estrogen replacement therapy is only recommended to help fight common menopause symptoms associated with low estrogen levels. However, there may be several ancillary benefits to using estrogen replacement therapy as well. If you think you could benefit from hormone replacement therapy, talk to our providers about your health and symptoms.

    Why Use Estrogen Replacement Therapy After Menopause?

    Estrogen replacement therapy is one of the most common types of medications to help women suffering from menopause symptoms. It is currently one of the most effective treatments available for hot flashes, which are common among menopausal women. Estrogen replacement therapy may help with menopause symptoms like:

    • Hot flashes
    • Night sweats
    • Mood changes
    • Low sex drive
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Fatigue
    • Difficulty sleeping

    Women can experience these symptoms during perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause) or after menopause (after you’ve gone 12 consecutive months without a period). For many, these symptoms disrupt daily life and can cause a lot of stress. If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms, there are treatment solutions available.

    Low Estrogen Levels Can Cause Symptoms & Health Risks

    While there are many things that can cause similar symptoms, low estrogen is the most common reason behind menopause symptoms. During perimenopause, our ovaries begin to slow down as they transition into menopause. This can lead to wide fluctuations in hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone which are produced in the ovaries. These changes can lead to many of the symptoms associated with menopause.

    Once you reach menopause, the ovaries produce significantly less hormones than during pre-menopause. This leads to low estrogen and progesterone throughout the body. Low hormone levels are also associated with menopause symptoms, which can continue even for years into post-menopause.

    Low estrogen levels are not only responsible for many of your menopause symptoms, but they can also have negative effects on your health. For instance, menopause is associated with increased risk for many health conditions, like heart disease and osteoporosis. What many women don’t know is that low estrogen levels from menopause may also increase the risk for developing colon cancer.

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Reduce Risks for Colorectal Cancer

    Several studies have found that women who use estrogen replacement therapy have reduced risks for colorectal cancer. Many researchers believe that female hormones like estrogen may provide some protection against colorectal cancer. There are several reasons for this. For example, pre-menopausal women are less likely to develop colon cancer than men of the same age. Also, the risk for colorectal cancer increases around the average age of menopause. Various studies provide evidence for this protective effect against colorectal cancers as well.

    Risk Factors for Colon Cancer

    Before we explain how estrogen replacement therapy may help reduce the risk for colon cancer, let’s first discuss what increases your risk. Women have about a one in 25 chance of developing colorectal cancer in their lifetime. It’s also the second leading cancer-related death for people in the U.S. (lung cancer is the first).

    There are many potential risk factors for colon cancer. For instance, your lifestyle can increase your risk for colon cancer, such as living a sedentary lifestyle or having a diet that is low in fruits and vegetables. Age is also a common risk factor. Most people who develop colon cancer are age 50 or older. Hormone changes from menopause may also increase your risk for colorectal cancers.

    Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

    Many women who develop colon cancer don’t have any symptoms, which is why doctors typically recommend regular screenings based on your health and family history. However, here are some symptoms that may indicate colon cancer:

    • Changes in your bowel habits
    • Blood in the stool
    • Diarrhea
    • Constipation
    • Feeling like your bowels don’t empty all the way
    • Abdominal pain that doesn’t get better
    • Unexplained weight loss

    Screenings for Colon Cancer

    Most people should start getting screenings around age 45. However, this depends on many things, like your health history, family health history, and other risk factors. Screenings can include stool tests, colonoscopies, or even CT colonoscopies. These can help with early detection of colon cancer and precancerous polyps so you can get treatment as soon as possible.

    Many Studies Show Lower Risk for Colon Cancer for Women Who Use Menopausal Estrogen Replacement Therapy

    Because of the potential link between low estrogen levels during menopause and colon cancer, many researchers have studied the effects of estrogen replacement therapy on colorectal cancer risk. While research is still ongoing, many studies have found positive results. Increasing estrogen levels in menopause may help decrease the risk for developing colon cancer and may have positive effects on outcomes for those who do develop colorectal cancer.

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Reduce the Risk of Developing Colon Cancer

    Many studies have found that women who use estrogen replacement therapy for menopause also have a lower risk for developing colon cancer. Some of the first results of this kind were seen in the Women’s Health Initiative study on hormone therapy from the 1990s, which looked at the long-term effects of using menopausal estrogen replacement therapy. The researchers in that study did find that the women who used hormone therapy had lower rates of colon cancer.

    Another 2017 study also found that estrogen may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. The study followed women for almost five years ages 55 to 79. Some of the women never used hormone replacement therapy, some used it in the past, and some used it during the study. The researchers found that the women who used estrogen replacement therapy during their lifetime had fewer instances of colorectal cancer. Therefore, estrogen may reduce the risk for women developing colon cancer.

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Improve Results After a Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis

    In addition, some researchers have looked at the effects of estrogen replacement therapy on women who do develop colon cancer. For instance some studies have found that women with colon cancer have longer survival rates when their estrogen levels remain high during the pre-menopause stage, but become shorter after menopause when they experience low estrogen.

    Another study from 2017 found that women who had used estrogen replacement therapy had better outcomes after colorectal cancer diagnosis. The researchers looked at 1,109 women with colorectal cancer between 2007 and 2012. The women who used hormone therapy after their diagnosis had a 24% decrease in their risk for mortality from colorectal cancer and a 30% decrease for mortality of any kind. They also found that the women who used estrogen replacement therapy before their diagnosis saw even lower risk for both colorectal cancer and all-cause mortality. Therefore, estrogen may also improve prognosis for colorectal cancer patients.

    Talk About Your Health Today at HerKare

    Our team at HerKare is here to help you bring your hormones back into balance. We understand how difficult menopause symptoms are and use bioidentical hormones to help treat your symptoms and help you feel like yourself again. We also help you address underlying health conditions to improve your overall health and well-being. Our treatment providers are dedicated to empowering you through quality, compassionate health care. We are a women’s health clinic operated by women for women. Contact us to make an appointment today to learn how we can help you improve your health and symptoms.

    How Sleep Apnea Affects Women

    How Sleep Apnea Affects Women

    Sleep apnea is a condition that affects many people, yet women often go undiagnosed and untreated. This can cause many negative effects in your life, including sexual dysfunction and other health issues. With proper treatment, you may be able to reduce many of the symptoms and complications of sleep apnea. Let’s talk about how sleep apnea affects women and what you can do to improve your overall well-being if you have this condition.

    What is Sleep Apnea?

    woman drinking coffee smiling because she got treatment for her sleep apnea

    Sleep apnea can cause many issues for your life and health.

    Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing while you sleep. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This is where your airways collapse and block breathing while you sleep. In response to this, your body wakes you up to help you breathe normally again. Because of this, people with sleep apnea often experience sleep fragmentation, low oxygen levels, and higher blood pressure, among many other health concerns. It can also cause many serious symptoms.

    Symptoms of Sleep Apnea May Be More Subtle in Women

    There are many classic symptoms of sleep apnea, including loud snoring and observed pauses in breathing during the night (usually by your partner). Other symptoms of sleep apnea can include:

    • Daytime sleepiness
    • Brain fog
    • Morning headaches
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Low libido
    • Waking up gasping or choking

    However, many women with sleep apnea experience subtle symptoms. Symptoms may not be as severe, and they may not suffer from the more well-known signs of sleep apnea. Many also contribute their symptoms, like fatigue and depression, to other things like life changes, aging, menopause, or other health conditions. This can delay getting treatment and cause many unwanted effects. Therefore, if you think you have sleep apnea, visit our women’s health clinic to find underlying causes of your symptoms.

    How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Life

    Sleep apnea doesn’t just affect your sleep, it can influence every part of your life. One less commonly known way that sleep apnea can affect women is through their sex lives. In addition, sleep apnea can put you at risk for potentially life-threatening health issues.

    Increased Risk for Sexual Dysfunction

    Sleep apnea can have a pretty big impact on your sex life. One study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2011 researched the connection between sleep apnea and sexual dysfunction in women. The researchers looked at 80 women who had OSA and compared them to 240 women who didn’t have this sleep disorder. They found that the OSA group was significantly more likely to suffer from sexual dysfunction based on their answers to questionnaires.

    Sexual dysfunction can mean a lot of different things for women. According to the Mayo Clinic, sexual dysfunction is “persistent, recurrent problems with sexual response, desire, orgasm, or pain.” Some symptoms include things like low sexual desire, difficulty becoming or staying aroused during sexual activities, difficulty achieving orgasm, or even experiencing pain during sex. This can affect your overall quality of life as well as your intimate relationships.

    There may be several reasons behind this link between sleep apnea and sexual dysfunction. One potential cause is that sleep deprivation from this sleep disorder can reduce your natural testosterone production. Testosterone is an important hormone for women’s sex drive and sexual function.

    Also, many of the symptoms of sleep apnea can interfere with intimacy as well. For example, extreme fatigue can affect your sexual desire and arousal. The same goes for irritability from tiredness as well as depression and anxiety that many women with sleep apnea experience. Therefore, sleep apnea’s effects on sex are pretty complex.

    Negative Health Effects

    Sleep apnea can also negatively affect your health and overall wellbeing. Sleep apnea can put your body into overdrive and lead to many issues, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Heart disease is the number one killer of women, so it’s a serious complication of sleep apnea that could cost you your life.

    Also, sleep apnea can increase your risk for other serious issues. For instance, it can increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Another potential complication of untreated sleep apnea is an increased risk for accidents, such as car crashes or work accidents, which can lead to injuries or death. Therefore, it’s important to get treated for sleep apnea to help protect yourself from these many health risks.

    Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

    How do you know if you’re at risk for sleep apnea? Practically anyone can have sleep apnea, but there are some common risk factors that many women have. Some of the biggest lifestyle factors that increase your risk for sleep apnea include being overweight or obese, living a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and excessive drinking.

    Some other risk factors for sleep apnea in women include:

    • Aging
    • Menopause
    • PCOS
    • Family history of sleep apnea

    Menopause and PCOS may increase the risk for sleep apnea due to hormone changes, as they lead to lower levels of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones can help maintain proper muscle tone in the airways to prevent the risk of collapse. However, if you have low levels of these hormones, your airways can become weaker and more prone to collapse, leading to OSA.

    Visit Our Women’s Health Clinic if You Think You Have a Sleep Disorder

    If you think you might have sleep apnea, the first step is to make an appointment at one of our clinic locations. We offer home sleep testing, which allows you to avoid the cost, inconvenience, and discomfort of visiting a sleep lab. With a home sleep test, you simply wear the device during a normal night and bring the device back. Our doctors analyze the sleep data the device collects and, if applicable, can diagnose you with sleep apnea. Our team then creates a customized treatment plan for you to help you feel better. We provide any medical devices you need and also remotely monitor your treatment and make adjustments as necessary to improve your results and symptoms. For truly comprehensive women’s health care, our team is here for you.

    Available Treatments for OSA

    There are several treatment solutions available for women with sleep apnea. Since everyone is different, it’s important to discuss personalized treatment plans with our women’s health care providers.

    For some, you may be able to treat and manage sleep apnea through lifestyle changes. Some lifestyle changes might include quitting smoking, reducing how much you drink alcohol, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and losing weight.

    Also, for women who experience sleep apnea events primarily when they sleep on their backs, you may benefit from positional therapy. This is essentially retraining yourself to sleep on your side instead of your back to help your airways stay open during the night. There are several approaches to this, but often include wearing a device to discourage you from rolling onto your back as you sleep.

    The gold standard for treating sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. CPAP therapy involves increasing pressure in your airways while you sleep to prevent them from narrowing and collapsing. For this treatment, you wear the CPAP device while you sleep at night to reduce the number of apnea events you experience. Many studies have found serious positives of using CPAP therapy for sleep apnea, including fewer health risks, better quality sleep, and increased libido for those who suffer from sleep apnea related sexual dysfunction. Our team can help you determine if CPAP is a good option for you and help you find options that are comfortable and effective for you.

    Get Women’s Health Care Solutions from HerKare

    Find health care solutions tailored to you through our teams at HerKare. We are a women’s health clinic committed to helping you feel your best. Our team listens and cares about you. We are here to hear your concerns as well as find and treat underlying causes. Our providers offer treatment solutions for a variety of conditions, including sleep apnea and menopause. Schedule your appointment today to learn how we can help you improve your overall health.

    Women’s Health Care: Diabetes in Women

    Women’s Health Care: Diabetes in Women

    Diabetes is a serious health issue. In the U.S., an estimated 34 million people live with diabetes. This is a chronic disease that can shorten your lifespan without proper treatment and management from your women’s health care team. What many people don’t know is that diabetes can affect women a little differently, which can increase health risks and can delay diagnosis and treatment. In this article, we’ll focus on diabetes in women and what you can do to improve your health.

    Talk to Our Women’s Health Care Team If You Think You Have Diabetes

    woman smiling with her dog after getting women's health care for diabetes management

    Our women’s health care providers can test you for diabetes and help you manage your condition.

    Diabetes is a serious health condition that comes with many health risks and complications. Therefore, it’s essential to make an appointment at our women’s health clinic if you think you might have diabetes. Our team can help you find underlying causes of your symptoms and test for diabetes. Once diagnosed with diabetes, we also offer treatment and ongoing treatment monitoring to help you feel your best and stay healthy.

    As many as one in nine women in the U.S. have diabetes, which translates to about 15 million women. Yet, many of these women go undiagnosed and are unaware of the dangers to their health. We’ll go over some of the common symptoms of diabetes in a later section so you can see if you have common signs of the disease. Getting annual health exams can also help with early diagnosis and treatment, as during these appointments we look for common signs of health conditions that might be easy to overlook.

    Risks Women Face with Diabetes

    Everyone who suspects they have diabetes should get treatment as soon as possible because of the potential health risks. However, women may be particularly at risk for complications. While diabetes is more common in men, women are more likely to suffer from complications, such as heart disease and kidney disease.

    Women with diabetes are about four times as likely to suffer from heart disease, while men are two times more likely to develop heart disease if they have diabetes. As heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, this is a serious concern. Heart disease increases your risk for heart attack, stroke, and other life-threatening conditions. In addition, women with diabetes are more likely to die due to heart disease compared to men.

    Diabetes can also increase your risk for kidney disease, as the kidneys work in overdrive to get rid of excess blood sugar. Over time, your kidneys can become damaged from all the extra work and they can’t filter your blood properly. This can lead to major health complications, including kidney failure. Both men and women with diabetes are at risk for kidney disease, but kidney disease is often more severe for women with diabetes.

    In addition, women with diabetes have higher risk for other complications, such as blindness and depression. Diabetes can damage your circulatory system, including the sensitive blood vessels in your eyes, which can eventually lead to vision loss and blindness. Diabetes is also linked to higher rates of depression. Therefore, there are many risks associated with diabetes, which is why you should get help from our women’s health care providers if you think you might have diabetes or have an increased risk for diabetes.

    What is Diabetes?

    Most people have heard of diabetes before, but you might not know exactly what it is. Diabetes is a condition where your blood sugar is higher than normal. For people with type 1 diabetes, this is because your body attacks the pancreatic cells that make insulin, which is a hormone that allows your cells to use sugar in your blood and turn it into energy. Because your body doesn’t produce insulin, your cells are unable to turn sugar into energy. This means the sugar simply stays in the blood instead.

    Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for about 95% of cases. This is where your cells become less sensitive to insulin over time. Because the cells are somewhat resistant to insulin, they are unable to use as much sugar in your blood for energy, which increases the glucose (sugar) in your blood.

    In addition, you can also have prediabetes, which is a condition where your blood sugar levels are elevated, but not to the same extent as someone with diabetes. This is often a precursor to type 2 diabetes. Many people with untreated prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes within five years. However, it can also be treatable to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes with early intervention.

    Therefore, it’s important to talk to our women’s health care providers about diabetes, including your risk and how to prevent it. Getting regular blood sugar tests can also help with early detection so you can take steps to improve your health and prevent complications.

    Symptoms to Talk to Our Women’s Health Care Providers About

    There are many symptoms of diabetes that you may experience. Some symptoms of diabetes for both men and women include:

    • Excessive thirst
    • Excessive hunger
    • Frequent urination
    • Weight changes
    • Fatigue
    • Blurred vision
    • Slow healing wounds
    • Numb or tingling hands and feet
    • Increased number of infections
    • Breath that smells fruity, sweet, or like acetone

    If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to come into our women’s health clinic to discuss them with our providers.

    Symptoms of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes often come on gradually, which makes it harder to notice the symptoms. Several of the symptoms are also easy to explain away as getting older or living a busy lifestyle, like feeling fatigued or extremely hungry. However, ignoring symptoms can delay diagnosis and treatment from our women’s health care providers. So, we recommend making an appointment as soon as possible if you notice these issues.

    Symptoms Specific to Women

    In addition, there are several diabetes symptoms that are unique to women. Some of these symptoms include:

    • Increased number of yeast infections
    • Increased number of urinary tract infections
    • Sexual dysfunction
      • Vaginal dryness
      • Low sex drive
      • Fewer orgasms
      • Lower sexual satisfaction

    There are several reasons why you might experience these symptoms of diabetes. High blood sugar levels can damage the cardiovascular system, which can reduce circulation. Poor circulation to the vulva and vagina can cause dryness and also make infections worse, as blood flow is necessary for healing. High blood sugar levels can also act as food for bacteria and yeast germs, which can help them grow more quickly and lead to yeast infections and UTIs. Diabetes can also cause nerve damage (neuropathy), which can reduce feeling in your vulva and vagina, which may also account for sexual dysfunction in diabetic women.

    Also, many people don’t know that female hormones like estrogen and progesterone can affect blood sugar levels in women with diabetes. For instance, many women notice their blood sugar levels rise around the luteal phase of their period, which is about two weeks before the start of their period. In menopause, hormone fluctuations and low hormone levels can cause unpredictable increases and decreases in blood sugar. Therefore, this is another way that diabetes can affect women differently.

    Ask Our Women’s Health Care Providers About Your Diabetes Risk Factors

    Like many other health conditions, you might have a higher risk for developing diabetes due to certain risk factors. For instance, if you have a family history of diabetes, you might have a higher likelihood of developing diabetes. Some other risk factors include obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption.

    In addition, other health issues can also increase your risk for diabetes. Women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) are more likely to develop diabetes because it can cause insulin resistance.

    Gestational diabetes can also increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later. Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that develops during pregnancy and typically goes away soon after birth.

    It’s important to discuss your risk factors with our women’s health care providers. This helps you understand your risks and what you can do to help prevent diabetes. Our team may recommend lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or losing weight to reduce your risk for diabetes. Depending on your risks, we may also recommend more frequent screenings to help with early detection of diabetes and prediabetes.

    Women’s Health Care for Prediabetes

    If you develop prediabetes, there are often several things you can do to treat your elevated blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Our women’s health care providers can test your blood sugar levels and create a personalized treatment plan for you. Oftentimes, these treatments include weight loss, improving your diet, and getting active. We may also recommend quitting smoking and reducing your alcohol consumption. Maintaining a healthy weight and losing even a small amount of weight, such as 10% of your total weight, can help reduce blood sugar levels significantly.

    Women’s Health Care for Diabetes

    If you have diabetes, there are several ways our team can help. While there is currently no cure for this condition, diabetes management can help you reduce your symptoms and health risks. Typically, diabetes treatments involve a mixture of lifestyle changes, like losing weight and beginning an exercise program, as well as medications. Insulin is one of the most common medications for people with diabetes, however there are also other medications that may work better for you. Our women’s health care team works with you to find treatments that work well for your diabetes and your lifestyle.

    Visit HerKare: A Women’s Health Clinic that Cares

    Addressing your whole health is easy with our team at HerKare. We are dedicated to empowering women through top quality health care services from providers that listen and care about you. Our team offers personalized treatment solutions and ongoing monitoring for a wide range of conditions, including diabetes, menopause, high cholesterol, and other common health issues. Schedule an appointment today at one of our convenient locations!

    Women’s Health Care: What to Know About Hepatitis C

    Women’s Health Care: What to Know About Hepatitis C

    May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, so talk to our women’s health care providers about preventing and treating hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is a common form of hepatitis and there is currently no vaccine to prevent it. In this article, we’ll discuss what hepatitis C is and what women should know about this common but serious infection.

    Talk to Our Women’s Health Care Providers about Hepatitis C for Hepatitis Awareness Month

    woman smiling with two children after talking to our women's health care providers

    Talk to our women’s health care providers about hepatitis C and what you can do to protect yourself.

    One of the best ways to observe Hepatitis Awareness Month is to talk to our doctors about this disease. Ask our women’s health care professionals whether you should get tested for hepatitis C and how to prevent it. An estimated 40% of people with hepatitis C don’t know they have it and don’t know they should get tested. Knowing more about hepatitis can help you avoid infection, notice the signs of infection, and also seek early treatment if you think you may be infected. Make an appointment at one of our clinics and let’s talk about hepatitis and how to protect yourself.

    What is Hepatitis C?

    Hepatitis C, sometimes called hep C for short, is a type of viral infection from the hepatitis C virus. It primarily affects the liver, which is responsible for many things in your body, including removing toxins from the blood and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. The problem with hepatitis C is that it can cause damage to the liver over time.

    Hepatitis C infections can be acute or chronic. An acute infection is short-term and your body’s immune system may be able to fight it off. However, more than half of people experience a chronic infection after being exposed to hepatitis C virus. Chronic hepatitis C is a long-term infection that can lead to many serious complications including scarring on the liver (cirrhosis), liver failure, and liver cancer. Today, there are many treatments available that, if used early, can help reduce these risks to your liver.

    Symptoms of Hepatitis C

    Hepatitis C often causes no symptoms. For some, symptoms only appear decades after infection due to serious liver damage. However, there are some symptoms you can keep an eye out for that may indicate a hepatitis C infection. Symptoms of hepatitis C infection include:

    • Fatigue
    • Abdominal pain
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Lack of appetite
    • Jaundice (yellow eyes or skin)
    • Bruising or bleeding
    • Dark urine
    • Clay-colored stools

    If you notice these symptoms, talk to our women’s health care providers to identify underlying causes. It may help your doctor detect hepatitis C for early treatment.

    How Does Hep C Spread?

    How do you get hepatitis C? Hepatitis C typically spreads through infected blood. One of the most common reasons for hep C transmission is sharing needles from illicit drug use. However, there are many other ways you might contract hepatitis C. For instance, getting tattoos or piercings using unsanitary needles, working in healthcare where you may be exposed to infected blood, or even sharing personal care items that may be contaminated with small amounts of blood, like razors or nail clippers.

    Hepatitis C can also spread through sex, especially if there may be blood present, like if you’re having sex during your period or if you experience tearing that causes light bleeding. This can create the blood-to-blood contact that can lead to a hepatitis C infection.

    Less commonly, women can also spread hepatitis C to their babies during pregnancy and birth. Some estimate that the risk is about 6% per pregnancy for mothers with hep C. The good news is that it is typically treatable in babies when caught early.

    Who is at Risk for Hepatitis C?

    Anyone can contract hepatitis C. However, there are some people who are more at risk for hep C than others. For instance, about 75% of people with chronic hepatitis C were born between 1945 and 1965, with Baby Boomers having five times the risk of people born in other generations.

    Here are some other factors that may increase your risk for hepatitis C:

    • Illegal drug use, particularly drugs you inject
    • People who work with blood and needles (like healthcare workers and tattoo artists)
    • Receiving an organ transplant or a blood transfusion before July 1992
    • Receiving clotting factor concentrates before 1997
    • People receiving dialysis

    If you have certain risk factors, our women’s health care providers may recommend testing for hepatitis C at least once, if not regularly. Our doctors can discuss your individual health circumstances with you to help you determine which screenings are right for you.

    Information Our Women’s Health Care Providers Want You to Know About Hepatitis C

    There are many things to know about hepatitis C. One of the best resources for information about hep C is your women’s health care provider at HerKare. However, we have some general information that we think is important for you to know for Hepatitis Awareness Month:

    Your Risk for Serious Hep C Complications Increases after Menopause

    One thing many people don’t realize about hepatitis C is that menopause can affect the infection. Estrogen may play a role in reducing how quickly the virus replicates, which can help protect you from liver damage and other issues associated with a chronic hep C infection. However, when estrogen levels drop during menopause, this can lead to a quick worsening of your condition. Hepatitis C typically progresses slower in pre-menopausal women than men, but once you reach menopause, you can see a rapid progression in symptoms and liver damage. So, consider scheduling a hep C test before you reach menopause. This way, you can seek treatment before your natural estrogen levels decrease.

    Hepatitis C Can Affect Hormonal Birth Control

    If you haven’t reached menopause yet, you might use hormonal birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancy. However, if you have hepatitis C, it may make your birth control less effective and increase the risk for failure. This is because the liver is responsible for breaking down hormonal birth control so your body can use it to prevent unwanted pregnancy. If you think you have hepatitis C, talk to our women’s health care providers about your birth control options.

    Hepatitis C is Treatable

    The good news is that hepatitis C is treatable. Treatment may look different for everyone, but it typically includes antiviral medications for 8 to 12 weeks. These medications can help stop the virus from multiplying and spreading to other cells in your liver. For many patients, these medications can actually make it so the virus isn’t detectable in their blood. Patients that reach this phase are considered cured from hepatitis C. Even for those that don’t become cured, these treatments can reduce and suppress the virus.

    What Tests Can Our Women’s Health Care Providers Run to Detect Hepatitis C?

    Many women actually discover that they have hepatitis C after normal blood work during an annual checkup. The blood work may show high levels of liver enzymes, which typically point to inflammation in the liver. If your doctor suspects this may be due to hepatitis C, they may recommend a hepatitis c virus antibody test to see if there are antibodies to the virus in your blood.

    Current recommendations are that all adults should be tested at least once in their lifetime. Experts also recommend pregnant women and people with higher risk factors should also be tested for hepatitis c. Talk to our women’s health care providers about your health and whether you need to get tested for hep C.

    Find Quality, Compassionate Women’s Health Care at HerKare Clinics

    For quality health care and a team that listens to you, visit one of our convenient HerKare locations. We are a women’s health clinic run by women for women to provide you with the health care services you need to feel your best. From preventative checkups to finding underlying causes of your symptoms, we are here to help you. Our providers offer quality care to help empower women regarding their health. Make an appointment today to experience the HerKare difference.

    Do Menopause Symptoms Ever Go Away?

    Do Menopause Symptoms Ever Go Away?

    Menopause is a natural phase of life for women. However, it can come with many changes, including unwanted symptoms that affect daily life. If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms, it’s important to understand that there are many ways our women’s health care  providers can help, from providing treatments and suggesting lifestyle changes. Our team is also here to answer all your questions, so you are prepared and empowered over your own health. One common question you may have is whether menopause symptoms ever go away. The simple answer is yes. However, keep in mind that menopause is anything but simple. We’ll discuss how long menopause symptoms last, what factors affect symptom duration, and other complexities of menopause in this article.

    women talking at table after discussing menopause symptoms with our women's health care providers

    Talk to our women’s health care providers about what to expect from menopause.

    Ask Your Women’s Health Care About What to Expect During Menopause

    One of your best resources during menopause is your women’s health care provider. Our team can answer your questions and help you understand what to expect during menopause. Every woman is different, but there are some common experiences many women have during menopause that we can discuss and strategize for based on your individual circumstances.

    Understanding the Phases of Menopause

    It’s important for women to understand the different phases of menopause. While many people use the term “menopause” as a catch all for symptoms and health conditions related to low hormone levels as we reach middle age, there are actually three distinct phases in the transition from pre-menopause to post-menopause. They are:

    • Perimenopause
    • Menopause
    • Postmenopause

    Perimenopause is the period leading up to your last period. During this time, hormones like estrogen and progesterone start to decline and fluctuate. With these changing hormone levels, you may experience several symptoms associated with menopause. You may also experience irregular periods because of changing hormone levels. This is the transition into menopause. On average, perimenopause starts at age 47 and lasts approximately 4 years before reaching the next phase. However, every woman is different, and some may have longer or shorter timelines for perimenopause. You can also start perimenopause earlier or later.

    Menopause is the next phase in the transition. This is actually a point in time, rather than a time span like perimenopause. Menopause is when you reach the 12-month mark from your last period. Immediately after reaching this part of the phase, you are considered postmenopausal.

    Postmenopause is the time that comes after you haven’t had a period for 12 months and lasts the rest of your life. During early postmenopause, your estrogen and progesterone levels may keep declining and some women continue to experience symptoms during postmenopause. However, typically symptoms do typically go away at some point during postmenopause.

    Common Menopause Symptoms

    Low estrogen and progesterone levels during the menopause transition can cause many different symptoms. In fact, an estimated 80% of women experience some menopause symptoms. Common symptoms you may experience include:

    • Hot flashes
    • Night sweats
    • Mood changes like anxiety and depression
    • Insomnia
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Urinary incontinence
    • Brain fog
    • Weight gain

    Many women will see symptoms during perimenopause in the three to five years or so before reaching the menopause stage. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, sometimes even interfering with day-to-day life. Each person is different, so you may experience different symptoms or different levels of severity compared to others. If you’re experiencing symptoms of menopause, talk to our women’s health care providers about options for relief.

    How Our Women’s Health Care Providers Help with Menopause Symptoms

    The good news is, you don’t have to suffer with your menopause symptoms. There are many ways our women’s health care team can help you address your symptoms. For some women, simple lifestyle changes can go a long way in alleviating menopause symptoms. For example, eating a healthy diet, taking part in exercise, and reducing stress levels can all help with your symptoms.

    However, in many cases you may need menopause treatment with hormones to relieve your symptoms. As symptoms are typically due to low and imbalanced hormone levels, hormone replacement therapy is a common treatment option that can reduce or eliminate your symptoms. We generally recommend taking the lowest dose of estrogen (and progesterone if you still have your uterus) that helps your symptoms. Our providers can help you determine if this treatment solution is right for you.

    How Long Do Menopause Symptoms Last?

    If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms, you might wonder if they ever go away. The good news is, menopause symptoms do typically fade away with time. While there is no straightforward answer for how long menopause symptoms last, there are studies that show the average duration to expect.

    In the past, many women’s health care providers believed that symptoms like hot flashes usually disappeared within six to 24 months. However, more recent research suggests that the timeline for menopause symptoms is longer than this. One study from 2015 looked at how long vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes and night sweats) lasted for menopausal women. The researchers found that the average duration of hot flashes and night sweats was 7.4 years, with 4.5 of those years occurring during postmenopause after the last period. However, it’s important to note that some women have symptoms for a shorter amount of time and others a longer amount of time. For instance, some of the women in the 13 year follow up still had symptoms.

    The researchers in the study recommended that doctors advise women to expect symptoms for about 7 years because that was the average amount of time for the women in the study. However, there are health and lifestyle factors that may affect how long you experience menopause symptoms.

    Factors That Affect the Length of Menopause Symptoms

    The 2015 study also found that certain factors were associated with longer timelines for menopause symptoms. For instance, they found that women whose symptoms started earlier, such as when they were premenopausal, tended to experience hot flashes for longer, with an average time of 11.8 years total and 9.4 years after their last period. By contrast, women who only experienced symptoms after their last period tended to only have them for an average of three and a half years. They also found that African American women tended to experience symptoms longer than white women.

    Some other factors that seemed to be linked to having menopause symptoms for longer included being overweight, smoking, having high stress levels, and having anxiety or depressive symptoms.

    Each woman has her own “schedule” for menopause and its symptoms. However, genetics also seems to play a role. Specifically, typically your menopause transition will look similar to your mother’s and grandmother’s for age and timeline. Therefore, there are many things that can affect how long you experience menopause symptoms. Our women’s health care providers can help you look at many different factors and make a plan for how to manage your symptoms now and in the future.

    Discuss Strategies for Managing Menopause With Our Women’s Health Care Providers

    Considering that menopause symptoms can last years, it’s helpful to discuss your symptoms with our health care providers. As we mentioned, there are many options for relieving your symptoms. Our team can create personalized treatment solutions based on your specific needs. We are your partners in improving your overall health and wellbeing, during every phase of life.

    Quality Women’s Health Care for Menopause at HerKare

    As a women’s health clinic owned and operated by women, we are here to empower you to live a healthier life. Our team at HerKare is here to help you create a roadmap for lifelong health. We offer a variety of women’s health care services, from birth control counseling to menopause treatments to help you feel your best at any age. Make an appointment today to discuss your symptoms and get quality, individualized care from our health care providers.

    Women’s Health Clinic: Ovarian Cysts After Menopause

    Women’s Health Clinic: Ovarian Cysts After Menopause

    If you have symptoms of an ovarian cyst after you reach menopause, you should schedule an appointment at our women’s health clinic. While these are often harmless, they can cause serious symptoms, complications, and may even point to cancer. In this article, we’re going to discuss ovarian cysts after menopause and some things you need to know to stay healthy.

    menopausal woman smiling after visiting her women's health clinic

    Your women’s health clinic can help you address your health if you have ovarian cysts after menopause.

    Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that develop on the ovaries. About 7% of women will experience an ovarian cyst in their lifetime. They come in many different forms. They are more common before menopause when the ovaries are more active. There are a couple of different functional ovarian cysts associated with the menstrual cycle for pre-menopausal women that often go away on their own and don’t cause any symptoms.

    However, after menopause, it’s less likely that you will experience ovarian cysts, and frequently these are different from the functional cysts you may have experienced in your pre-menopausal years. This is because the ovaries stop releasing eggs and produce less estrogen and progesterone, meaning they’re less active after menopause. Therefore, if you think you might have an ovarian cyst after menopause, it’s important to discuss it with one of our treatment providers.

    Seek Care from Our Women’s Health Clinic for Symptoms of Ovarian Cysts

    While ovarian cysts are less common after menopause, they can still develop as long as you have your ovaries. Ovarian cysts can cause many different symptoms, including:

    • Dull ache in the lower back or pelvis
    • Aches in the thighs
    • Feeling pressure in the lower abdomen or pelvis
    • Bloating or swelling in the lower abdomen
    • Pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis
    • Pain during sex
    • Difficulty emptying your bladder or bowels
    • Vaginal bleeding or spotting
    • Unexplained weight gain

    If you’re experiencing these common symptoms of ovarian cysts, it’s important to make an appointment with our women’s health care providers for diagnosis and treatment.

    In some cases, ovarian cysts can cause complications. For instance, they can increase the risk of ovarian torsion, which is where the ovary begins to twist and may cut off blood flow to the area. Ovarian cysts can also rupture, which can cause dangerous internal bleeding. Some symptoms you need immediate medical care for an ovarian cyst include:

    • Severe, sudden pain
    • Heavy vaginal bleeding
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Fever
    • Dizziness
    • Fainting

    Ovarian Cysts After Menopause: Important Information to Know

    If you’re a post-menopausal women, there are several things you should know about ovarian cysts after menopause. Of course, everyone is different, so it’s important to talk to the providers at our women’s health clinic about your specific circumstances. However, we have some general information to help you if you think you may have an ovarian cyst after menopause.

    Ovarian Cysts After Menopause May Increase Your Risk for Ovarian Cancer

    One important reason to seek treatment from our women’s health care providers if you suspect you have an ovarian cyst is that cysts are more likely to be cancerous if you experience them after menopause. While most ovarian cysts after menopause are benign, there is a higher risk for ovarian cancer as we age. Therefore, we recommend getting care if you think you might have an ovarian cyst. While a suspected ovarian cyst is no reason to panic, it is something you should take seriously and visit our women’s health clinic to help rule out malignant cysts.

    How Your Women’s Health Clinic Diagnoses Ovarian Cysts After Menopause

    If you think you have an ovarian cyst and you’ve already gone through menopause, there are several ways our providers may diagnose you. Understanding what to expect can help you feel more prepared and at ease before and during your appointment.

    Our women’s health care professionals may conduct a pelvic exam to look for signs of the cyst. Often, the doctor can feel the cyst during an exam, and it also allows them to examine the vagina, cervix, and uterus for signs of other causes of your symptoms.

    Another way your provider may diagnose an ovarian cyst is with imaging. This is frequently through ultrasound to look at the ovaries for signs of cysts.

    Our team may also recommend a blood test to look for higher levels of cancer antigen 125 (CA125), which could be a sign of ovarian cancer. However, keep in mind other conditions can also raise CA125, like pelvic infections, fibroids, and endometriosis.

    How Our Women’s Health Clinic Providers May Treat Ovarian Cysts

    After diagnosis, we can discuss different treatment options based on our findings. In many cases, we may recommend monitoring the cyst for changes. If the cyst is small and benign, we may not need to remove it or do anything further. These cysts often go away on their own. However, our women’s health clinic may recommend regular monitoring to see if the cyst changes in size or appearance.

    For larger cysts, cysts that cause you symptoms, or cysts that may be cancerous, our team may recommend surgically removing them. There are several approaches to this. One is to simply remove the cyst from the ovary. Another option is an oophorectomy, where the surgeon removes the affected ovary. In some cases, you may also need a hysterectomy.

    Conditions that May Increase Your Risk for Ovarian Cysts

    Ovarian cysts can happen to anyone. However, there are some things that can increase the risk of developing an ovarian cyst that you should be aware of. These include:

    • History of ovarian cysts (if you have had one before, you’re more likely to get another)
    • Hormonal imbalances
    • Severe pelvic infections
    • Endometriosis
    • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
    • Hypothyroidism

    If you experience these conditions, talk to our women’s health care providers about your risks for ovarian cysts and ovarian cancer, as well as what to do if you think you have an ovarian cyst.

    Types of Ovarian Cysts You May Experience After Menopause

    There are several types of ovarian cysts you can develop. We mentioned functional cysts in an earlier section, which are associated with your menstrual cycle before menopause. After menopause, ovarian cysts typically fall into one of three categories:

    • Dermoid Ovarian Cysts: Dermoid ovarian cysts are a sac of tissue on the ovaries. They often appear during your reproductive years but may get larger over time. These cysts are rarely cancerous and are usually made up of other types of cells, such as skin, teeth, or hair cells.
    • Cystadenoma Ovarian Cysts: These cysts are generally on the surface of the ovary and are filled with water-like fluid or mucus. They are typically benign but can be malignant.
    • Endometriomas Ovarian Cysts: Endometriomas are cysts caused by a growth of endometrial (uterine lining) cells on the ovaries. These are most common for women with endometriosis, which is a condition where endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus. Like other cysts, they can be cancerous but are generally benign.

    Convenient Health Care from Our Women’s Health Clinic

    Whether you’re experiencing symptoms of an ovarian cyst or want to discuss options for maintaining a healthy lifestyle after menopause, our professionals at HerKare are here to help. We are a women’s health clinic managed by women for women to help you address and improve your overall wellbeing. Our team offers quality, compassionate health care at every stage of life, pre-menopause to post-menopause. Schedule an appointment at one of our clinics today!