Menopause: Common Symptoms and How to Manage Them
Women will experience many phases in life, but none are quite like menopause. It's a natural and inevitable process that marks the end of her reproductive years, but it can be a challenging and uncomfortable time. During menopause, and even before menopause (perimenopause), women may experience a range of symptoms that can impact their quality of life.
The good news is, with the right knowledge and support, women can manage these symptoms and transition through with ease.
What Is Menopause?
Menopause is when menstrual cycles stop happening and the ovaries no longer release eggs or ovulate. Hormone levels, particularly estrogen and progesterone, decrease and can lead to many of the symptoms women experience. The age at which women enter menopause varies, but it typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55.
What Are the Symptoms of Menopause?
Every woman's experience of menopause is unique, but some common symptoms include:
- Hot flashes: A sudden feeling of heat that spreads throughout the body, usually accompanied by sweating and rapid heartbeat.
- Night sweats: This is similar to hot flashes but occurs at night, making sleeping difficult.
- Vaginal dryness: The decrease in estrogen levels can cause vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex.
- Mood changes: Menopause can also cause irritability, anxiety, and depression.
- Insomnia: Many women find sleeping challenging during menopause due to night sweats and other symptoms.
- Urinary incontinence: This is the involuntary leakage of urine, which is common during menopause.
- Changes in libido: Some women experience a decrease in sex drive.
Managing Menopause Symptoms
While menopause can be uncomfortable, there are ways to manage your symptoms and make the transition smoother. Here are some of the best ways to help you manage your symptoms:
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): This treatment involves taking hormones to replace those the body is no longer producing. HRT can help alleviate hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and other symptoms.
- Lifestyle changes: Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding alcohol and caffeine can help alleviate menopause symptoms. It's also essential to get enough sleep and manage stress.
- Vaginal moisturizers and lubricants: These products can help alleviate vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex.
- Medications: There are several medications available to help alleviate specific menopause symptoms. For example, low-dose antidepressants can help reduce hot flashes, while medication for urinary incontinence can help with bladder control.
- Alternative therapies: Some women find relief from menopause symptoms through acupuncture, yoga, or herbal remedies. It's essential to discuss these options with your healthcare provider before trying them.
- Support groups: Joining a menopause support group can be helpful for women who are experiencing menopause symptoms. Talking with other women who are going through the same experience can provide emotional support and practical advice.
When To See a Doctor for Menopause
While menopause can be challenging, there are many ways to manage the symptoms and make the transition smoother. If you're experiencing symptoms that are interfering with your quality of life, it’s time to talk to your healthcare provider about the best ways to manage them. With the right support and care, you can transition through menopause with ease and enjoy this new phase of your life.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
4 Foods To Avoid When You’re Pregnant
There’s no shortage of advice when you’re pregnant — everybody is eager to help you grow a happy, healthy baby. Diet tips are especially common, and it can be tough to decipher which advice you should follow.
Pregnant women need to increase their calorie and nutrient intake to help the baby develop and grow and to keep their bodies healthy throughout the pregnancy. Many people joke about eating for two, but pregnant women truly eat to fuel their bodies and nourish their growing baby.
Although it’s fun to think that extra calories mean extra sweets and treats, mother and baby need more healthy calories to support the baby’s healthy development. Dietary choices before getting pregnant, during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding affects the baby’s health even after they’re no longer breastfeeding.
The best calories for pregnant women are those gained by eating nutrient-dense foods. Nutrient-dense foods contain vitamins, minerals, and other healthy nutrients and very little added sugar, sodium, or saturated fat. Vegetables, whole grains, seafood, eggs, legumes (beans, peas, lentils), unsalted nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins can all be healthy, nutrient-dense choices.
You may already be eating a healthy diet of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy, but did you know that some healthy foods become not-so-healthy when you’re pregnant? It’s true — some of your favorite healthy foods may not be safe options when you’re pregnant.
So which healthy foods should you avoid while pregnant?
Seafood High in Mercury
Seafood can be a healthy source of protein, vitamins and minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids that support eye and brain development. The downside is that some types of fish and shellfish may contain unhealthy mercury levels, which can harm your baby’s nervous system development.
For pregnant women, the FDA categorizes types of fish as “best” or “good” to eat or “avoid eating” based on mercury content. It recommends eating 2-3 servings from the “best” category per week or one serving from the “good” category. Click here for the complete list.
Seafood To Avoid
Larger, older fish typically have more mercury than their smaller counterparts. Popular fish to avoid when pregnant include:
- Bigeye tuna
- King mackerel
- Orange roughy
Seafood That Is Safe To Eat
When you avoid higher-mercury options, seafood is still a healthy choice. Some options from the FDA “best” list include:
- Atlantic mackerel
- Freshwater trout
Undercooked and Processed Proteins
Meat, meat products, fish, and eggs can be excellent sources of protein but can also be sources of bacteria if they aren’t thoroughly cooked. Pregnant women have a greater risk of catching bacterial food poisoning from undercooked foods and may develop a more severe reaction than before they were pregnant. Although rare, food poisoning can also affect the baby.
Keep meats and eggs safe with the following tips:
- Make sure all meat, including poultry, is fully cooked. Check the temperature with a meat thermometer to verify the internal temperature.
- Avoid lunch meats and hot dogs, or cook them until they’re steaming. They can pick up bacteria during processing.
- Avoid refrigerated meat spreads and pates. Canned versions are safer.
- Cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm. Avoid foods that contain raw eggs, like eggnog, batter, and hollandaise sauce.
- Avoid raw seafood like oysters, mussels, and some types of sushi.
Unpasteurized Dairy and Juice
Dairy foods are an excellent source of calcium, but unpasteurized dairy foods can be a source of listeria bacteria. Skim milk, cottage cheese, and hard cheeses, like cheddar, are healthy dairy choices, but pregnant women should avoid soft cheeses unless they are labeled as pasteurized, like:
- Queso blanco or fresco
Fruits and vegetables are among the healthiest foods we can eat but can become contaminated with parasites and bacteria at any point in the growing, processing, shipping, or retail stages. In fact, the parasite toxoplasma can contaminate the soil the fruits and vegetables were grown in.
Parasites like toxoplasma and bacteria like E. coli can affect your and your baby’s health. To keep your fruits and vegetables as safe as possible:
- Wash all raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly
- Peel fruits and vegetables to minimize your risk
- Cook fruits and vegetables to kill bacteria and parasites
- Avoid raw sprouts entirely
Adopt a Healthy Diet for You and Your Baby
A healthy diet has countless benefits for your health and your baby’s development. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy supports a healthy mom and baby even after delivery. If you have any questions about your diet, reach out! We’re here to help.
Start your pregnancy care with a trusted OB/GYN today - schedule an appointment!
The Dangers Faced By Women Who Delay Preventive Care
When you feel that something is off about your body or health, it’s easy to make the decision to get checked out by a healthcare professional. But, if you only see your doctor when you notice a change in your body, you could be missing important clues to your health that your doctor might discover in a preventive care checkup.
There are many things that can get in the way of making those regular, preventive appointments - scheduling conflicts, transportation issues, or just a busy life. Or in many cases, people believe doctors are only for the sick or injured, not realizing it’s possible to be sick without knowing it.
True, access to healthcare when sick or injured is critical, but preventive healthcare is just as necessary. Maybe more, as preventive care aims to prevent illness and negative outcomes.
Incontinence is Not a Normal Part of Aging
Do you leak a little when you laugh or sneeze? You’re not alone. Over 25 million people have some degree of bladder leakage or incontinence in the U.S. every day. Most don’t mention it to their doctors because they feel embarrassed or write it off as a normal part of aging.
It’s true that urinary incontinence is more common as we age, but it’s not a normal part of aging and it’s definitely not something you have to live with.
Whether you leak in your sleep, only when you laugh or sneeze, or all day – tiny drips or full bladders – your body is letting you know that something isn’t right. Urinary incontinence is a health program, not an aging problem.
Most people with urinary incontinence have a treatable or manageable condition.