Menopause can be a difficult problem to discuss, but it needs not be. It’s not just the part about getting older. There are some health problems that come from the hormonal changes as well. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you speak with your doctor about this.
Depression: I’ve talked to women who are ecstatic that they won’t have a period ever again. I’ve also talked to women who are depressed, either because they won’t be able to have a child or because of hormones. Depression is a sneaky problem. You may be the last person to know you’re dealing with it. Your doctor can give you a list of questions that will let you know if you are having this problem. Medication and/or counseling can help.
HRT…Or Not: Hormone replacement therapy can be beneficial. It can also be harmful. As a master herbalist I can tell you that the herbs used in alternative HRT come with warnings. If you have cancer or are at risk for hormone related cancer, they aren’t a good idea. This decision isn’t one to take lightly. Some people can’t deal with perimenopause or menopause without them, others can breeze right through it.
Cancer: Age and gender play a role in some types of cancer, including breast cancer. Women who started menstruating at twelve or younger as well as those who go through menopause later are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. This makes mammograms extremely important after menopause.
Heart Disease: The number one killer of Americans, male or female, is heart disease. During childbearing years this is not as likely but that changes at menopause. Once past that milestone, women are just as likely to have heart disease as men.
Gout: While it’s not usually deadly gout is very painful. This is another area where women of childbearing years are unlikely to develop it. After menopause, it’s another story. Gout is caused when the kidneys can’t filter out all of the uric acid in the bloodstream. Over time, the acid forms sharp little crystals that lodge in joints. Most of the time it starts in the right big toe and that digit will make the whole body well aware of its existence.
Osteoarthritis: Thinning bones can develop after menopause. There are tests that can show bone density and medications can help prevent the loss of bone. This is something to be very aware of, as thin bones break *very* easily.
If you’ve been too busy to take care of yourself until now, it’s a good time to get started. Talk to your doctor to find out what your particular risks are. Medications and procedures can make life after menopause easier, less painful…and longer.