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Power Surge’s Menopause Survival Tips   Leave a comment

by Dearest

Women “pausing” in Power Surge often ask one another what remedies they’ve used to address their menopausal issues. I had the good fortune to be made aware of nutrition early on in life by my dearest friend and savvy mother, Anne, who went through a difficult menopause and prepared me for what to expect. The general consensus is that your menopause is likely to be similar to your mother’s menopausal experience.

I was astonished when she told me that she had menopause-related high cholesterol of 400, which she lowered only with soy lecithin — 40+ years ago. She’s 95 today. That’s when I started researching ways of naturally lowering cholesterol and exploring the many benefits of soy protein and isoflavones.

Realisitcally, like you, I do not live on vitamins alone. I don’t buy organic foods. I eat the wrong things more often than I should, and oftentimes the joints ache too much to exercise. Do the best you can because nobody can help YOU through this transition as much as yourself!

Read, educate yourself, ask questions and learn tips that will help you “survive” this transition of life.

Time-Tested TIPS from Power Surge. You’ll find specific remedies in the recommendations area.

Menopause is a time fraught with physical, hormotional and spiritual changes.

For those concerned with weight loss, perimenopause is hardly the time for strict dieting. You have enough on your plate already (no pun intended). It’s enough to cope with the extreme hormonal upheavals. However, one can and should try to observe the best eating and exercise habits because they can be extremely helpful during peri and postmenopause, and can help to eliminate many of the problems you experience and form the foundation for a healthy future. It’s wise to begin a mild strength-training program to prevent muscle and bone degeneration later in life.

Did you know that exercise is one of the most effective measures in lowering cholesterol? Lowering your LDL (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and raising your HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol) AND lowering your triglycerides, too!

Did you also know that a few minutes of exercise can stop a panic attack dead in its tracks? Reduce anxiety? Decrease and even eliminate depression? Exercise does more than boost your mood and energy level, it also has a long-lasting calming effect. You don’t need elaborate equipment or gyms. The best equipment you have is your own body. Studies show that people feel less anxious while they are exercising and then for the next several hours. You don’t need to do an hour of heavy aerobics. A review of dozens of studies determined that you need to exercise for only 20 minutes for this natural tranquilizer to kick in. It’s a known fact that the best exercise is walking — even a twenty minute walk a day. The important thing is “consistency.” So, if you do 20 minutes of exercise even three times a week, it can be instrumental in establishing optimal health and, yes, lessening the severity of menopausal symptoms.

Brown Bagging It! Increased anxiety, hyperventilating and even panic attacks are common complaints during the perimenopausal years. You’ll find numerous suggestions all over the site about how to handle anxiety/panic. Sure, there are herbs, vitamins, tranquilizers, antidepressants and the exercise mentioned above. However, Power Surge also recommends brown bagging it, especially in emergency situations. You ask, “What is brown bagging it?”

Get yourself a small paper bag. Squish (yes, squish) the top together as though you were going to POP IT! Take the gathered top part of the bag and place it tightly over your nose and mouth, preventing outside air from getting in. Now, inhale deeply! When you feel you can’t inhale anymore, inhale just a little… bit … more. Next, slowly… exhale … and when you feel there’s no breath left … exhale just a little … bit … more. Do this for no longer than 30 seconds and see how you feel. Should you feel light-headed, don’t continue. However, most people have no problems and can do this exercise for one minute. The idea behind this is that by breathing into the paper bag, you’re inhaling carbon dioxide, which serves as a relaxant to your body’s organs, rather than oxygen which acts as a stimulant. Therefore, this exercise can be excellent for palpitations, anxiety, hyperventilation and general stress. Carry a brown bag in your purse. Stick one in your car’s glove compartment. You’ll be amazed at how simple and effective this procedure is!

Speaking of palpitations, should they hit, try taking 500 mg. of magnesium. They say, “If it spasms, give it magnesium.” The same holds true for migraines. If you feel a migraine coming on, try 500 mg. magnesium. You’ll find more info about magnesium on the Recommendations page.

Take one aspirin tablet per day (325 mg., 1/2 a regular adult dose) as a natural anti-coagulant. Antiplatelet therapy reduces the risk of any serious vascular event by about one quarter; risk of non-fatal heart attack by one third, non-fatal stroke by one quarter, and vascular death by one sixth. If heart attack (or stroke) symptoms occur, take one aspirin immediately as its anti-coagulant effects can mean the difference between life and death.

Become more aware of nutrition — what you put into your body. The types of oils you use in cooking, the way you prepare your foods. Canola, Sunflower, Safflower and Olive oils are the best. Sunflower oil actually serves as a cleanser of your arteries to remove plaque and prevent more plaque from forming. Certain fats are good for your body, while others are bad.. As you are aging your skin, hair and nails are likely to become drier and more brittle and lose their natural oils. Moisturize your skin and deep-condition your hair. And eat lots of fruit and fiber.

Avoid processed foods, nicotine, caffeine, artificial sweetners and “junk” food. These are no-no’s for menopausal women. Try to cut down or, better yet, stop drinking carbonated drinks, especially diet sodas – and more especially, those made with aspertame (Nutrasweet). The carbonation can cause bloating. I can’t even begin to tell you what sort of side effects you can experience from aspertame and so many low-calorie foods are made with it. It wouldn’t surprise me if you stopped using aspertame and some of the symptoms you attributed to menopause disappeared.

Keep a journal. Journalling can be extremely useful. A suggestion — when you have a hot flash, mood swing, palpitations, bout of binge eating, sudden elevated anxiety, panic attack, or any number of repetitive behavioral problems, take a pen and paper (or treat yourself to an actual journal) and write down:

  1. What you were doing
  2. What you were thinking
  3. What you were feeling
  4. With whom you were interacting
  5. What they said to you
  6. What you ate just prior to the onset of the problem

… and anything else you can think of that might be useful in identifying your triggers.

By keeping a running journal of the ‘changes’ you experience, you’ll be able to identify those circumstances, foods, people, thoughts, activities that may have triggered the physical and emotional changes. Through examination, you can see if there’s a pattern to the emotional UPS and downs, you can utilize the process of elimination in pinpointing the cause of the problem! You can keep your own menopause blog/journal, a free feature when you sign up for the Power Surge Message Board.

Dress in thin layers. When a hot flash hits, you can peel off the top layer (without getting arrested) and wear cotton as it is the most absorbent and cool of all fibers.

Additional suggestions:

  • Drink a glass of cold water or juice at the onset of a flash
  • At night, keep a carafe or thermos of ice water or an ice pack alongside your bed
  • Use cotton sheets, sleeping garments, lingerie, and clothing to let your skin “breathe”

Believe it or not, one of the quickest remedies for hot flashes and sweats is in your own refrigerator. Open the freezer and pull out a bag of frozen vegetables. Place it on your face, neck, inner arms and wrists. It’s refreshing and often can thwart a hot flash instantly. When unanticipated hot flashes or sweats hit, especially while travelling, a handy item to have is a mini portable personal fan. I’ve kept one in my glove compartment since I started perimenopause. It’s inexpensive and effective. Remember, this isn’t a taboo subject any longer. There’s no need to be embarrassed. It’s a natural occurrence. So, use your frozen veggies, or whip out your hand fan and, uncomfortable as it may be, try to find the humor in it. Everyone else will, too.

Eat lots of garlic!. Garlic is excellent for blood pressure and cholesterol. You can also take garlic in in a gel tablet – odorless, too. Also, eat lots of broccoli. It’s loaded with phytochemicals, vitamins and contains the highest amount of antioxidants than any other vegetable. Stacked with protective compounds , such as isothiocyanates and sulforaphane, as well as indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a substance that is said to have anticancer actions, broccoli tops the list of ‘must serves’. The entire Brassica family of vegetables, (which includes Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, kale and collard greens), contains a compound that activates certain enzymes in the human body to protect cells from genetic damage.

Try adding cinnamon and ground flaxseed to your morning oatmeal. It’s been discovered that cinnamon is very effective in lowering hyptertension. Ground flaxseed blends nicely with oatmeal and is one of the most important things you should take. Flax is good for your heart, for maintaining healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels, one of the “good fats” our bodies need, has anti-carcinogenic properties to protect us from various forms of cancer. Flaxseed is an excellent source of fiber and especially Omega 3 Fatty Acids. A 2 tablespoon serving provides 2400 mg of Omega 3. Read more about flaxseed.

When our estrogen levels dip, our cholesterol levels often become elevated. It’s not something to be alarmed about, but it is something to take action to treat. Your health care practitioner may immediately suggest going on statins, such as Lipitor, Zocor, etc., to lower your cholesterol. Remember, this is probably a temporary condition and there are many ways to lower cholesterol naturally before resorting to prescription drugs — especially getting involved in a regular exercise programl. See Power Surge’s Recommendations.

Avoid fried, rich, spicy foods and too much sugar. As we go through the menopause transition, women are more likely to develop heartburn, acid reflux, gallstones, so avoid spicy and fatty foods.

You know how we suddenly develop cravings for chocolate? They’ve said that chocolate is the “feel good” food – probably raising seratonin levels. However, while it may make us feel good for a short while, chocolate and all sweets can bring on hot flashes, raise insulin levels, cause palpitations, anxiety and even depression in some, so while everyone’s exalting chocolate to the sky, remember it’s not good for every peri and postmenopausal woman.

Avoid toxic situations and people! Menopause can be likened to Murphy’s Law — whenever anything can go wrong, it does! Our patience is tested to the max while we’re coping with all these changes. It seems all our demons, every unresolved issue of our life, hits us right between the eyes during perimenopause. We each know at least one someone who pushes all our wrong buttons. If you know certain situations or people are invariably going to cause you grief, do everything within your power to avoid them. Avoid inconsequential arguments. Many women who have passed through Power Surge have discussed issues with anxiety and anger — oftentimes, inappropriate anger — even feelings of rage. This isn’t uncommon during perimenopause while our hormones are ebbing and flowing, up and down until we feel like an alien has taken over our body. There are simple things you can use from the breathing exercises above to taking lots of vitamin B, especially inositol, which is known as “nature’s own tranquilizer.” Many women are helped by using St. John’s Wort. It’s not only good for depression, but helps anxiety as well. You’ll find numerous suggestions on the Recommendations page and in the Being The Best You area of the site. There’s also a very helpful article, A surprising new health tip: When you’re angry, let it show. Here’s a helpful article about anxiety.

Let the light in. Turn down the noise. Find a quiet, peaceful place to regroup, or simply to read, to sew, to relax, to be free from all the stresses of the world. Perhaps you can use that time to boot up the computer and share with other women going through the same thing as you! And, DO turn off the news! One of the most contributing factors to high stress levels is watching the local news. Whether you live alone, or with your family, explain that you need some time and space for yourself. If they love you, they’ll understand what you’re going through. Explain that it has nothing to do with them, but that you simply need to tune out some of those things that cause you to feel worse.

The bottom line: LEARN TO P-A-M-P-E-R yourself!

Look at all the “TO DO” lists you’ve accumulated! I recetly printed out just one of my to do lists and ended up with 15 printed pages. You know as well as I that many of the notations on your to do list have been there for weeks, maybe months (maybe years). I could wallpaper my entire house with all the post-its scattered about my computer room/office. IF you must keep appointments organized, put them in your cell phone’s notepad. If you don’t want or can’t afford an expensive cell phone/PDA, you can purchase a less expensive PDA such as the Palm z22 PDA or the Palm Tungsten E2 100.

If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation (a glass of red wine daily is good for your health). Once I entered perimenopause, I had to stop enjoying my glass of red wine because of the havoc it wreaked on my body. If you smoke, stop, or, at least, cut down to a minimum. You already know why without my telling you.

Alcoholic beverages can contribute to hot flashes and palpitations, plus raise your triglycerides as alcohol is converted to sugar in the body. Sugar and alcohol are two of the worst offenders during perimenopause and elevated triglycerides is one of the greatest contributors to heart disease.

High carbohydrate foods can also cause hot flashes, palpitations, anxiety and depression, plus elevated insulin levels which can exacerbate menopausal symptoms, plus too many carbohydrates can cause weight gain.

For the nausea often associated with perimenopause and PMS, try a cup of boiling water with 2-3 tsp. of lemon juice (from concentrated lemon juice). Sip it slowly and it should work like a charm every time. Ginger is also supposed to be helpful. However, using ginger itself may cause stomach problems. They say to add ginger to food, but really, who wants to eat when they feel nauseous? I would also recommend drinking some warm ginger ale (soda). You can also try peppermint or camomille tea, but not too much (I still prefer plain water and lemon).

Try to keep your sense of humor. I’ve always said in Power Surge, the moment we lose our sense of humor about life in general is the moment that life becomes unmanageable.

If you’re dealing with hair thinning and/or loss, there are some excellent tips in Hair Loss and Thinning at Menopause.

If you’re suffering from dry skin and other midlife and/or menopause-related skin disorders, you’ll find good information and tips in Tips for Midlife Dry Skin. There’s additional information about vaginal dryness here.

It’s really okay after years of playing superwoman to take time for yourself. You’ll be amazed at how well everyone manages to get along without your constant attention. Take time to regroup. Make “quiet time” for yourself. Go for a walk. Learn meditation. Reacquaint yourself with your inner child! She’s yearning to be heard. Find that peaceful place within yourself that so many of us seem to sequester away at some point in our lives, perhaps during times of stress, confusion, fear, frustration and pain — just when we need it. In my moments of anxiety and stress, music has soothed me. I have found peaceful moments with the help of Power Surge friend, Christine Magnussen’s Harp recording, “On Wings Of A Dove.

Of course, medication has its place in treating various conditions — many specifically related to perimenopause and menopause. However, medication isn’t always the answer. Not all, but many of the answers may lie within you and, believe it or not, how you “translate” everything that’s happening in your body. Own your body. It’s within your power.

Read and understand. You want to know more about menopause – visit Educate Your Body. If you’re interested in complex medical abstracts the averge woman doesn’t understand, this is not the place for it. We strive to make information you need about this rite of passage — simple and understable. There are menopause primers all over the site. There’s a list of prestigious experts in the area of menopause and women’s health a mile long, all of whom have appeared in Power Surge to answer your questions. Learn from their wisdom. They all talk in plain language. Glance at all the wonderful praise that’s been bestowed upon Power Surge and you’ll know you’re in a safe and caring place.

Become friends with your body. Listen to the messages it gives you. Your body will instinctively tell you more about what’s going on, especially during peri and postmenopause, than test results –and you can learn how to instinctively respond to it. Remember, if you treat your body well during these transitional years, it will treat you well in return… and long down the road. Own your body!

Be sure to check out the transcript library and other areas of the site for more information on menopause symptoms, methods of treatment, recommendations and Ask The Experts areas. There’s also the comprehensive Power Surge Search Engine to find specific information on any subject you’re looking for.

And, by all means, if you want to commiserate with other women — women who truly understand what you’re going through, the Power Surge Message Board and Insta-chat are best places to find them!

Other good “starter” articles are,

Menopause and Stress, Adrenal Health   Leave a comment

As a society, we are acutely exposed to daily stresses, be they emotional, physical, or mental. Work situations, family changes and obligations, changes in our bodies and in our health–all of these can contribute to the stress demands on our bodies. Our bodies respond to these stresses in a similar fashion despite the source. Physiologically, each time we are exposed to stresses, our adrenal glands respond by producing certain hormones. One part of the adrenal gland, the adrenal cortex, responds to long and short-term stresses, while the adrenal medulla responds to sudden or alarm situations, producing our “fight or flight” response. With the amount of stress we are exposed to each day, you’d think our adrenal glands were of considerable size, but that isn’t the case. Our adrenals weigh about 5 grams each and reside in our bodies just above our kidneys in the low back area. For small glands, they play an enormous role in our health. Their function also tends to decline over a person’s lifetime, leading some researchers to coin a new term “adrenapause” to define this loss. As such, we need to have ways in which we can keep our adrenal glands healthy.

From a preventive standpoint, we can reduce our exposure to certain stresses, as well as change the degree to which we allow stresses to affect us. This involves making choices about what we subject ourselves to, as well as how we respond to situations we can’t avoid or change. The amounts of hormones, specifically glucocorticoids and catecholamines, that are released by the adrenal glands are directly related to the amount of stress the body endures, and these hormones can affect nearly all the tissues in our bodies. Individuals exposed to long-term stress have higher circulating glucocorticoids than a person who is unstressed does. Certain lifestyle changes, such as exercise, meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga, have all been demonstrated to ease our response to stress. Those who incorporate one or more of these into their days are noticeably more resilient to daily stresses.

We can also address adrenal health through nutritional support and herbs. Vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins are crucial to adrenal health. Being water-soluble vitamins, they are easily depleted and may need regular supplementation, especially in times of stress. Vitamin C is stored in high concentrations in the adrenal glands, which is evidence of its need for this important vitamin. It has been shown that a person’s need for vitamin C varies, depending on what their body is going through at the time. Infection, for an example, can increase the body’s need for vitamin C considerably. Herbs which address adrenal health are referred to as adaptogens, because they help the body adapt to changes, or stresses. Some of the most notable herbs utilized for adrenal support are licorice, ginseng, and astragalus. Astragalus has long been used in Chinese medicine as a tonic. Research has demonstrated its value in enhancing immunity through multiple mechanisms. Ginsengs are commonly prescribed to increase energy and support adrenal function. Research has demonstrated improved functioning under stress as well as increased working capacity following ginseng use. For women, Siberian ginseng appears to be the most appropriate of the ginsengs, as from a Chinese medicine perspective, it is more cooling (less likely to induce hot flashes) and can be used on a regular basis. Borage leaf also provides specific support to the adrenal cortex and can be used daily to support adrenal health.

Diet is another factor that plays a strong role, as it can supply the body with nutrients as well as deplete the adrenals, depending on what choices are made. For example, sugar and caffeine tend to draw energy from the adrenal glands, so stay away from them during times of stress or if you are working at improving adrenal health. In contrast, nutrients that are found in fresh fruits and vegetables supply healthy support for the body. Nutrient-rich foods, like kelp and other seaweed, are good sources of key vitamins and minerals important to glandular health.

A balanced program for supporting adrenal health includes scheduling time to exercise and taking some time for you to be mindful of your stress level and facilitate adjustments when necessary. Remember that treating health holistically means addressing mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of one’s life, for they all affect one another and can contribute to health as well as disease.

  • Murray M, Pizzorno J. “Stress management.” In Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine 2nd Ed. Prima Publ., Rocklin, CA, 1998.
  • Stipanuk M. Biochemical and Physiological Aspects of Human Nutrition. WB Saunders, Philadelphia, PA, 2000.
  • Ginter E. “Optimum intake of vitamin C for the human organism.” Nutr Health 1982;1:66-77.
  • Wallace E. “Adaptogenic herbs: nature’s solution to stress.” Nutr Sci News 1998;3(5):244-250.
  • Fulder SJ. “Ginseng and the hypothalamic–pituitary control of stress.” Am J Chin Med, 1981:9(2):112-8.
  • Whorwood CB, Sheppard MC, Stewart PM. “Licorice inhibits 11 beta–hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase messenger ribonucleic acid levels and potentiates glucocorticoid hormone action.” Endocrinology 1993;132(6):2287-92.
  • Zhos K, et al. “Enhancement of the immune response in mice by Astragalus membranaceus extracts.” Immunophamacol 1990;20(3):225-33.
  • Yang Y, et al. “Effect of Astragalus membranaceus on natural killer cell activity and induction with Coxsackie B viral myocarditis.” Chin Med J 1990;103(4):304-307.
  • Filaretov A, et al. “Role of pituitary-adrenocortical system to body adaptation abilities.” Exp Clin Endocrinol 1988;92(2):129-36.
  • Fulder SJ. “Ginseng and the hypothalamic–pituitary control of stress.” Am J Chin Med, 1981;9(2):112-8.
  • Bensky, D, Gamble, A. Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica. Eastland Press, Seattle, Washington, 1993.
  • Hoffman, D. The Herbal Handbook. Healing Arts Press, Vermont, 1988.
  • Murray M, Pizzorno J. “Stress management.” In Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine 2nd Ed. Prima Publ., Rocklin, CA, 1998.
  • Neve J. “Clinical implications of trace elements in endocrinology.” Biol Trace Elem Res 1992:32:173-85.
  • Stahl W, Schwarz W, Sundquist AR, Sies H. “Cis-trans isomers of lycopene and beta-carotene in human serum and tissues.” Arch Biochem Biophys, 1992:294(1):173-7.

 

Hypothyroidism, The Many Myths by Kenneth Blanchard, M.D.   1 comment

THE MANY MYTHS OF hypothyroidism
By Kenneth Blanchard, M.D.

Read the transcript of Dr. Kenneth Blanchard (coming soon!)

blanchardchatThyroid disorders are extremely common and, in my opinion, are often undiagnosed or poorly treated due to a total reliance on laboratory testing and some-long standing but fundamentally flawed principles of treatment. Of the many standard teachings in this area, I believe the most common mistake physicians make in every day practice is to “rule out” hypothyroidism on the basis of laboratory tests .alone, especially use of the TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test. There are few teachings in medicine more sacrosanct than an elevated TSH test as the “gold standard” for a diagnosis of hypothyroidism. I believe that there are millions of patients (mostly women) who would benefit from thyroid hormone but who are not treated because of results from this test.

A common story in popular magazines is “The Diagnosis your Doctor Will Probably Miss”. The story is that many individuals (mostly women) with symptoms like fatigue, depression, muscle aching, constipation, etc., see a physician who orders a T4 test and, on the basis of this, are told that hypothyroidism has been “ruled out”. The “smarter physician” also orders a TSH test because this is more sensitive and often reveals an abnormality even when T4 results are normal. While this scenario can happen, I believe it is far more common to find both T4 and TSH tests registering normal in the face of significant clinical hypothyroidism. In my practice, if the medical history and physical findings are highly suggestive of hypothyroidism, patients are treated with a therapeutic trial of the hormone and the results are overwhelmingly positive. As of early 2001, opinion in this field is still that the TSH test is absolute, although the upper limit of normal has been questioned, which is starting to include more individuals in this diagnosis.

Another common teaching that I believe to be fundamentally wrong is that all treatment should be done with 1OO% T4 hormone L-thyroxine (Synthroid, Levoxyl, etc.). The normal secretion of the thyroid gland contains small amounts of the T3 hormone (triiodothyronine) and I believe that giving some T3 is an important part of effective treatment for most individuals. The standard medical view is the T3 is unnecessary because T4 is converted to T3 in the body. But many patients taking the standard 100% T4 hormone report chronic fatigue, depression, menstrual abnormalities, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), restless legs and other complaints, and these complaints are almost always better when some T3 is added. This particular teaching in medicine has been breached by a paper appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1999 in which patients on standard 100% T4 were given some T3 and all patients felt better mentally and physically. The use of T3 has been standard in my practice since 1990 and I am quite sure it will be routine in the near future, although many physicians at this point still do not use T3 in addition to T4.

Thyroid hormone activity has a variety of complicated interactions with other hormones. For instance, I believe that thyroid hormone treatment is effective in PMS (premenstrual syndrome) despite the fact .that there are major studies in the literature which say this is not true. It is most likely that PMS fundamentally represents a deficiency of progesterone production prior to menstrual flow, but I believe that normalization of thyroid deficiency enables the woman to make more progesterone, thus relieving the symptoms. The woman in her mid-forties who is just starting to have irregular periods and notices some hot flashes, sweats and sleep disturbance at night can often be treated simply by optimal thyroid replacement, specifically including some T3. While such symptoms are commonly regarded as estrogen deficiency and will respond to the use of estrogen, I find that many such women have normalization of symptoms on proper thyroid therapy alone. The fundamental reason for this may well be that normalization of thyroid function enhances estrogen production by the ovaries themselves and by, the increased production of estrogen in fat tissue from adrenal hormone precursors.

If a woman at this age has frequent migraine headaches that are clearly related to the menstrual cycle (essentially premenstrual), these will often respond to balanced T4- T3 treatment, again possibly because of raising and/or stabilizing levels of estradiol. While clinical depression is not an integral part of menopause, there are many issues at this time of life that can cause emotional upset or depressed feelings. Again, use the T3 hormone in a physiologic way can be very helpful. Indeed, much of the current use ofT3 is in the hands of psychiatrists, who. use it as an adjunctive treatment for depression that is not responding well to standard antidepressants. Although this can be extremely effective, psychiatrists tend to use pharmacologic doses rather then physiologic doses. In other words, they exceed the amount needed to reproduce normal hormone balance. For virtually every purpose, a physiologic dose is desirable since excessive doses yield no additional benefits. I also disagree with the use of Armour thyroid by itself for the same reason, that it does not contain a physiologic balance of T4 to T3. The human thyroid produces roughly 95% T4 and 5% T3. Armour thyroid is an animal thyroid that contains 80% T4/20% T3. People who take Armour thyroid usually feel better for a short period of time because they were deficient in T3 but, after a period of time, the Armour thyroid will cause a T4-T3 imbalance at tissue level and a variety of undesired symptoms can then develop over time. One can get a better balance by giving some T4 with the Armour.

Some doctors are reluctant to prescribe (and some women reluctant to take) thyroid hormones in the belief that this will somehow increase the risk of osteoporosis. . I personally do not believe that there is good evidence for this, although my guess would be that excessive thyroid hormone does contribute to bone loss. Since there is no benefit in going above the normal physiologic levels of thyroid hormone, following the TSH result and clinically monitoring the patient will prevent overdose and resultant adverse effects.

Every organ system in the body is affected to some degree by treatment with thyroid hormone. I believe that the proper treatment of hypothyroidism with physiologic amount ofT4 and TI is critical in managing many complex medical problems at mid-life. If treatment is carefully monitored, there are no adverse effects. Management of hypothyroidism with T4 and TI is significantly more complicated than the standard 100% T4 therapy that has been used for the past 30 years or so. TI dosage must be monitored and altered precisely for optimum effect and this must be done by the use of compounded T3 time-release capsules. These are almost always made in units of 1OO capsules for practical reasons. Patients are initially seen every three months in order to adjust the dosage for the next prescription of T3. Another practice that will eventually become standard in this field is the adjustment of thyroid dosage for seasonal change, i.e., higher dosage in the colder weather and reduced dosage in the warmer weather.

Once dosage has been adjusted over 3 to 5 3-month visits and everything appears stable, visits are done at 6-7 month intervals. Patients must be ready to keep their appointments and take the medication exactly as directed. At the present time, there are many patients on a waiting list so that patients who drop out of the treatment plan fall back to the end of the list. Patients who have difficulty with the practices outlined above should stay with their current therapy.

By Power-Surge guest:
Kenneth Blanchard, M.D

Read the transcript of Dr. Kenneth Blanchard (coming soon!)

Read the Power Surge disclaimer

An Introduction to Menopause and Perimenopause: Signs, Symptoms and Treatments   2 comments

MaryO’Note: Some of these links have been removed.


What is Menopause and Perimenopause?

Menopause is defined as the cessation of menstruation as a result of the normal decline in ovarian function. Technically, you enter menopause following 12 consecutive months without a period. Menopause has become increasingly medicalized, which means it is viewed as something that requires intervention and treatment rather than as a natural life transition that may benefit from support. Menopause signals the end of fertility and the beginning of a new and potentially rewarding time in a woman’s life. Part of the stigma of menopause is its association with aging, but we age no more rapidly in our 50s than in any other decade of life.

When Does Menopause Happen?

For most women, natural menopause occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age of onset being 51.4 years of age. In rare instances, menopause can occur as early as the 30’s or as late as the 60’s. Menopause is considered premature if it occurs before the age of 40, or artificial if radiation exposure, chemotherapeutic drugs, or surgery induces it. Other factors that may contribute to the early onset of menopause include a history of smoking, poor nutrition, a co-existing medical condition, or even a traumatic experience.

Until a woman is technically considered menopausal (aka postmenopausal), she’s considered to be premenopausal, also referred to as perimenopause. It’s during the perimenopausal phase that most women experience the worst symptoms.

Menopause (or postmenopause) occurs when a woman hasn’t had her period for 12 consecutive months. Once hormones have levelled off, most of the symptoms experienced during perimenopause will disappear — although some women have occasional hot flashes, anxiety, bouts of depression, et al, for a few years after they become postmenopausal.

The Physiology of Menopause

To best understand what occurs at menopause, it is helpful to know about the physiology of menstruation and the hormones that are involved in our monthly cycle. Hormones are substances in our bodies that act like messengers. They travel throughout the body and can bind to specialized areas of cells known as receptor sites, where they then initiate a specific chain of events. The first half of the menstrual cycle is dominated by estrogen, whose role is to build the lining of the uterus in preparation for a potential pregnancy. At approximately day 14 of the cycle, or two weeks prior to menstruation, an egg is released from the ovaries. This is referred to as ovulation.

As a result of ovulation the ovary begins producing progesterone. It is during this second half of the cycle that progesterone is dominant. Progesterone’s role is to change the character of the uterine lining to prepare for pregnancy, and to prevent further buildup of the lining by estrogen. At the end of the cycle, if the egg is not fertilized, estrogen and progesterone levels drop, causing a sloughing of the uterine lining, or menstruation. The body goes through this cycle every month to ensure a fresh uterine lining in preparation for a potential pregnancy.

If a woman fails to ovulate, however, she does not produce progesterone, and this may result in the experience of symptoms of hormonal imbalance. Women are born with a finite number of eggs that eventually runs out. At birth, a woman has close to a million eggs, by puberty a mere 300,000. In the 10 to 15 years prior to menopause, this loss begins to accelerate. Perimenopause is the term used to describe the time of transition between a woman’s reproductive years and when menstruation ceases completely. Typically perimenopause occurs between the ages of 40 and 51 and may last anywhere from six months to ten years. During this time, hormone levels naturally fluctuate and decline, but they do not necessarily do so in an orderly manner. Shifts in hormones are a major contributor to that sense of physical, mental, and emotional imbalance that may characterize a woman’s experience of menopause.

Eventually estrogen levels decrease to the point that the lining of the uterus no longer builds up and menstruation ceases. This is menopause. After menopause, estrogen levels off at approximately 40 to 60% of its premenopausal levels and progesterone falls close to zero. Although there are similarities in what happens hormonally, each woman’s experience can be very different. Genetics may play a role in the timing, but lifestyle can certainly influence a woman’s experience of menopause. Many women find that the right combination of herbs, exercise, nutritional support, and natural hormones helps them to manage most of their symptoms. Others find they may need some medical intervention and pharmaceutical agents. This site will help guide you in making the decisions that best support your individual needs.

How long does perimenopause last?

It varies. Women normally go through menopause between ages 45 and 55. Many women experience menopause around age 51. However, perimenopause can start as early as age 35. It can last a few months to quite a few years. There is no way to tell in advance how long it will last OR how long it will take you to go through it. Every woman is different.

I’ve been depressed in the past. Will this affect when I start going through perimenopause?

It could. Researchers are studying how depression in a woman’s life affects the time she starts perimenopause. If you start perimenopause early, researchers don’t know if you reach menopause faster than other women or if you’re just in perimenopause longer.

What should I expect as I go through perimenopause?

The 34 Signs/Symptoms of Menopause.

Some women have symptoms during this time that can be very difficult. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Changes in your menstrual cycle – i.e., longer or shorter periods, heavier or lighter periods, or missed periods
  • Hot flashes (power surges — sudden rush of heat from your chest to your head)
  • Palpitations, skipped heartbeats
  • Internal shaking / tremor-like feelings
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Dry skin and skin changes
  • Itching
  • Formication (feeling like ants are crawling on your body)
  • Insomnia and other sleep disturbances
  • Mood swings
  • Allergies, sinus problems
  • Wheezing, respiratory problems, coughing
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Crying for no apparent reason
  • General irritability and/or anger
  • Hair thinning or loss
  • Pain during sex
  • More urinary infections
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Decreased or non-existent libido
  • Increase in body fat, especially around your waist
  • Forgetfulness, brain fog, problems with concentration and memory

Additional Reading: The 34 Signs/Symptoms of Menopause.

There are numerous articles addressing all of these issues and more in Power Surge’s ‘Educate Your Body’ Library.

Excellent suggestions for coping with menopause in Power Surge’s Menopause Survival Tips

I don’t understand why I get hot flashes. Could you tell me what’s going on with my body?

Read What’s A Hot Flash? We don’t know exactly what causes hot flashes.
It could be a drop in estrogen or change in another hormone. This affects the part of your brain that regulates your body temperature. During a hot flash, you feel a sudden rush of heat move from your chest to your head. Your skin may turn red, and you may sweat. Hot flashes are sometimes brought on by things like hot weather, eating hot or spicy foods, or drinking alcohol or caffeine. Try to avoid these things if you find they trigger the hot flashes.

I feel so emotional. Is this due to changes in my hormones?

Your mood changes could be caused by a lot of factors. Some researchers believe that the decrease in estrogen triggers changes in your brain causing depression. Others think that if you’re depressed, irritable, and anxious, it’s influenced by menopausal symptoms you’re having, such as sleep problems, hot flashes, night sweats, and fatigue, and/or by issues you’re dealing with that aren’t strictly related to hormonal changes. It could also be a combination of hormone changes and symptoms. Remember, menopause doesn’t happen in a vacuum. All the issues you came into menopause with are only exacerbated by your changes.

Menopause doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s part of the bigger transition of “aging.” Other things that could cause depression and/or anxiety include:

  • Having depression during your lifetime
  • Feeling negative about menopause and getting older
  • Increased stress (look at the world we’re living in)
  • Having severe menopause symptoms
  • Children growing up and leaving home – empty nest syndrome
  • Smoking
  • Being sedentary – not being physically active
  • Not being happy in your relationship or not being in a relationship
  • Not having a job, or being unhappy in your current job
  • Continuing working during a difficult menopause
  • An unfulfilling marriage / marital problems
  • Financial problems
  • Low self-esteem (how you feel about yourself)
  • Not having the social support you need
  • Feeling isolated
  • Not having anyone to talk to (Use our message boards)
  • Regretful that you can’t have children anymore

What can I do to prevent or relieve symptoms of perimenopause?

  • Read the Power Surge Recommendations for treating various menopause symptoms.
  • Read Power Surge’s Menopause Survival Tips
  • Keep a journal for a few months and write down your symptoms, like hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes. That can help you figure out the changes you’re going through
  • Record your menstrual cycle, noting whether you have a heavy, normal, or light period
  • Find a physical activity that you’ll enjoy doing
  • If you smoke, try to quit. There are areas, such as A Breath of Fresh Air! for help.
  • Keep your body mass index (BMI) at a normal level. Figure out your BMI by going to www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bmicalc.htm
  • Network with other women who are in perimenopause or menopause. Most likely, they’re going through the same things you are!
  • Do something new: start a new hobby, do volunteer work, take a class
  • Learn meditation and breathing exercises for relaxation
  • Use a vaginal lubricant for dryness and pain during sex Read the article on Midlife Sexuality / Vaginal Dryness for more information.
  • Dress in lighter layers (preferably cotton), so if a hot flash comes on, you can peel away the top layer (without getting arrested!)
  • Try to figure out (and avoid) those triggers that may cause hot flashes, such as spicy foods, caffeine, or being outside in the heat.
  • Talk with your health care practitioner if you feel depressed, or have any other questions about how to relieve your symptoms
  • Educate yourself about what tests you need when entering perimenopause. Oftentimes, doctors won’t prescribe them unless YOU ASK for them!
  • An excellent resource for your questions about menopause — < Ask Power Surge’s Experts!

I’m going through perimenopause right now. My period is very heavy, and I’m bleeding after sex. Is this normal?

Irregular periods are common and normal during perimenopause, but not all changes in bleeding are from perimenopause or menopause. Other things can cause abnormal bleeding.

Talk to your health care provider if:

  • The bleeding is very heavy or comes with clots (although clotting isn’t uncommon during perimenopause)
  • The bleeding lasts longer than 7 days
  • You have spotting or bleeding between periods
  • You’re bleeding from the vagina after sex
  • Can I get pregnant while in perimenopause? Yes. If you’re still having periods, you can get pregnant. Talk to your health care provider about your options for birth control. Keep in mind that methods of birth control, like birth control pills, shots, implants, or diaphragms will not protect you from STDs or HIV. If you use one of these methods, be sure to also use a latex condom or dental dam (used for oral sex) correctly every time you have sexual contact. Be aware that condoms don’t provide complete protection against STDs and HIV. The only sure protection is abstinence (not having sex of any kind). But appropriate and consistent use of latex condoms and other barrier methods can help protect you from STDs.For women under 50, it is recommended that you continue some form of birth control even after your period has stopped for one year (24 consecutive months). For women over 50, it is recommended that birth control be practiced for one year after entering menopause.For perimenopausal women, it is essential that you continue some form of birth control while your periods are erratic — even if you’ve been without a period for six or seven months — you can still get pregnant. For women whose periods have stopped for twelve consecutive months, it is still recommended that you practice some form of birth control for approximately one year after entering menopause.

Be the Best You   2 comments

MaryO’Note: Links are removed from this page


bestyou“Being the best you” is in your hands! Remember how many years you nurtured everyone else? Cared for their needs? Well, now it’s time for you, but many of us don’t know where to begin to care for ourselves.

Being the best you is learning to nurture yourself. It isn’t being someone you’re not. It isn’t placing unrealistic expectations on yourself, nor allowing others to put them on you. It isn’t expecting yourself to transition through menopause’s physical, psychological and spiritual changes and expecting to be the same size 10 you once were. It’s accepting the changes, the aches and pains, learning to take a nap, finding time to regroup and sharing with other women who are going through the same thing.

There’s plenty of time to lose the excess pounds which frequently accompany menopause. Hormones will level off and everything will fall into place. Being the best you doesn’t mean you have to be the superwoman you’ve been for years. It means finding what works to make you feel better. It means taking care of YOU! Making time for YOU!

Where do you begin? By educating yourself, and arming yourself with the most updated information about treating menopause. By networking with other women who understand what you’re going through. By learning about nutrition, vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and the most natural ways to address your individual issues during menopause and beyond. Power Surge has spent years finding the best supplements, recommending only the finest products that meet the highest standards of quality. The vitamins, minerals and herbs recommended are by a reputable manufacturer whose products meet those standards

Hands down, the BEST multi vitamin for pre or postmenopausal women — containing the proper doses of vita-nutrients required by women during their transitional years — practically everything you need in one vitamin.

There are many options for treating your menopause issues — essential vitamins, minerals, soy protein and isoflavones, herbs, exercise, naturally compounded hormones, natural progesterone creams. Just trying to maintain our sanity during the confusing time of menopause is a tall order. It often feels like your body is betraying you. Learn to give yourself time and space to regroup, find a quiet space for to sort through this confusing time. Heal your weary soul with beautiful music. Find ways of coping. Learn to pamper and be good to yourself. Take care of yourself. Try a new haircut. Maybe even a new hair color. Accept that you’re changing. Treat yourself to something new, something fun, something empowering and learn some Power Surge Menopause Survival Tips.

Expect others to accept you and not to put pressure on you to be someone you’re not. Don’t waste precious time beating yourself up over getting older. So, you may not be the young whipper-snapper you once were. Who is? Life isn’t about what you used to be. Life is about who and what you are today. Applaud yourself for what you’ve accomplished and for who you are now. Life isn’t going to stand still through all these transitions, so do everything possible to be the best YOU you can be!

Power Surge is in its 20th year as an established and well-respected menopause community. After JAMA’s (The Journal of the American Medical Association) article about accuracy in health on the Web, HEALTH Magazine followed up with an article in their April, 2000 issue. They selected the top women’s health experts to sort through thousands of sites on the Internet to find those that met the criteria, accurate, informative, safe and reliable. Power Surge was selected one of “The 25 Best Health Sites for Women” and FORBES Magazine featured Power Surge in its “Best of the Web” issue’s cover article, Use With Care. HEALTH and FORBES Magazines are only two of many who have praised Power Surge as an exemplary resource for women in menopause.

Menopause is not for sissies. Being the best you means learning that there are positive steps you can take to be the best you during a time of life when it seems everything in your body is challenging that goal.

But … you’re smarter and stronger!

The 34 Symptoms of Menopause – what they are and how to treat them   30 comments

MaryO’Note: Links are removed from this list


There’s been a list of the “34 signs of menopause” circulating for years. The list originated with Judy Bayliss’ wonderful newsgroup, The Menopaus Listserv (That’s Menopaus without the “e” at the end).

I’ve taken the liberty of adding my own Notes to the original list. You’ll find hundreds of articles pertaining to menopause symptoms, treatments and menopause / midlife-related health and emotional issues including articles on midlife relationships, weight and fitness issues, intimacy, psychological problems associated with menopause in Power Surge’s, “Educate Your Body” extensive library.

I suggest you begin with the comprehensive article explaining what menopause is: in “An Introduction To Menopause: Signs, Symptoms and Treatments”

You’ll find remedies for most of these symptoms on the Recommendations page.

Here is the list of: “The 34 Signs of Menopause:”

1. Hot flashes, flushes, night sweats and/or cold flashes, clammy feeling (related to increased activity in the autonomic / sympathetic nervous system). Without becoming too, technical, messages are sent to the hypothalmus because of declining estrogen production via neurons which result in vasodilation — widening of the lumen of blood vessels (lumen being the cavity of a tubular organ, i.e., the lumen of a blood vessel,) which, in turn, causes flushing or hot flashes. Tips for treating/minimizing (and even avoiding) hot flashes: Power Surge’s Menopause Survival Tips. Also, read the Power Surges (hot flashes) Forum

2. Bouts of rapid heartbeat (related to increased activity in the autonomic / sympathetic nervous system)

Note: Along with rapid heartbeat (palpitations), women can experience skipped heartbeats, irregular heartbeats. These are generally normal vasomotor responses experienced during menopause – usually due to fluctuating hormone levels. However, if these problems continue, it’s always a good idea to be checked by your health care practitioner. An echocardiogram is a common procedure to tell the doctor what he needs to know about your heart. If your health care practitioner doesn’t suggest it, ASK FOR IT! Read the Palpitations, Heart Issues, Hypertension Forum

3. Irritability. Note: Along with irritability, a host of “anger” problems can develop during menopause. Just as a perimenopausal woman can find herself suddenly crying for no apparent reason or provocation, so can she find herself reacting to given situations in an angrier manner than she normally does. This anger can sometimes feel like “rage.”

Again, this is hormone-induced, but for some women, the anger can become inappropriate and a woman can feel like she’s out of control. There’s nothing wrong with seeking counselling to discuss these issues with a mental health professional. This is a challenging time of life and some objective outside help can be tremendously useful in helping a woman cope with all the emotions she’s feeling. Remember, menopause isn’t simply physical changes, but emotional and spiritual changes as well. There’s an excellent forum on the Power Surge Message Board that deals with the issues of Anger / Mood Swings / Rage.

4. Mood swings, sudden tears. Note: Mood swings can include anything from mood shifts (happy one moment, depressed the next) to sudden bouts of crying when nothing overt has occurred to cause the crying. Mood swings can and have been misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder because one can feel such extremes of emotions due to hormone imbalance. Anxiety, depression, panic attacks and even feelings of agoraphobia aren’t uncommon during menopause. The panic attacks often can develop with the onset of hot flashes. For some women, hot flashes can be severe and quite frightening.

5. Trouble sleeping through the night (with or without night sweats). Note: This can develop into insomnia or just waking at 2 in the morning for an hour. Relaxation and breathing exercises can be useful at this time — many women may log onto the Power Surge message boards and are surprised to find so many other women there in the middle of the night. More help on the Insomnia, Sleep Disorders Forum

6. Irregular periods: shorter, lighter or heavier periods, flooding, and phantom periods. Note: A phantom period is when you experience all the symptoms you’re accustomed to having before you menstruate — but… no period comes. This is a common experience during perimenopause before a woman’s period actually stops.

7. Loss of libido (sex drive). Note: Not every woman loses her libido entirely during perimenopause, although some may temporarily. Many women simply have a decreased interest in sex – often it’s simply because they generally don’t feel well and sex is the last thing on their mind! Also, bear in mind that there are many medications that can affect one’s libido, including the anti-depressants some women take to cope with the depression and anxiety associated with menopause to anti-hypertensives.

8. Dry vagina (results in painful intercourse) Note: Click here for an excellent article about vaginal dryness, sexuality and midlife relationships. Recommended: Sexual Issues/Libido Forum

9. Crashing fatigue. Note: I’ve never been able to determine if the “fatigue” associated with perimenopause is a symptom in and of itself, or if it’s a side effect of the cumulative symptoms and general exhaustion (from them) many women experience. Take all the symptoms and “dump” them on one person — is it any wonder perimenopausal women are so fatigued? If you can, try to find time to grab a nap.

One of the things that helped my fatigue, and it’s all chronicled in my personal odyssey to find remedies, is the use of considerable amounts of soy isoflavones and protein, which I found in R Soy. I can’t say that it specifically targetted and relieved the crashing fatigue, but it helped so many other symptoms and gave me a burst of energy, that I feel comfortable in attributing the fatigue relief to R. There are various vitamins, such as those in the “B” family, that can help with fatigue as well. Also, increased amounts of vitamin C. The Recommendations page lists numerous vita-nutrients that can be useful in treating fatigue and other symptoms associated with perimenopause.

10. Anxiety, feeling ill at ease. Note: One of the biggest complaints during menopause. Read the Anxiety/Stress Forum

11. Feelings of dread, apprehension, and doom (includes thoughts of death, picturing one’s own death). Note: It’s possible that this can be a manifestation of depression associated with menopause, or possibly feelings that come from going through daily discomfort through a difficult menopause transition that can last anywhere from 3-12 years.

A woman living under these circumstances can feel totally overwhelmed and frightened by the physical, psychological and spiritual changes. When there seems to be no reprieve from the suffering, for some it can leave them feeling drained wondering when and IF they’ll ever feel well again. It isn’t unusual for women at this time of life to have thoughts about dying. One phase of their life is coming to a close (not soon enough for many). There may be apprehension and fear about moving on to the next phase of life and wondering whether things will get better or worse. Helpful: The Panic Attacks / Disorder / Fear / Apprehension Forum

12. Difficulty concentrating, disorientation, & mental confusion. Note: Forgetfulness during perimenopause is often referred to lightly and humorously as “brain fog” but it’s not always funny. Note: An excellent article, Menopause And The Mind. Also, visit the Memory Loss, Foggy Thinking, Forgetfulness, Verbal Slips Forum

13. Disturbing memory lapses. Note: See #12

14. Incontinence — especially upon sneezing, laughing: urge incontinence (reflects a general loss of smooth muscle tone).

15. Itchy, crawly skin (feeling of ants crawling under the skin, not just dry, itchy skin Note: the feeling of ants crawling on your skin is called “formication”) Visit the Your Skin: Dryness, Itching, Vaginal Dryness, Disorders, Discomfort Forum

16. Aching, sore joints, muscles and tendons. (may include such problems as carpal tunnel syndrome). Note: Osteoarthritis can develop during perimenopause – and those with existing arthritic and/or rheumatic pain may find it’s exacerbated during the menopausal transition. See the Joints Aches and Pains/Arthritis Forum

17. Increased tension in muscles.

18. Breast tenderness. Note: Breast swelling, soreness, pain.

19. Headache change: increase or decrease. Note Many women develop migraine headaches during perimenopause. However, if one doesn’t have a history of migraine headeaches, they’re generally a short-lived experience of perimenopause. Also see the Headaches, Migraine Forum

20. Gastrointestinal distress, indigestion, flatulence, gas pain, nausea. Note: For nausea, try some ginger or, as I use, boiling hot water with a few teaspoons of lemon or lemon juice concentrate in it. Many women also develop acid reflux (Gerd). For some, it can be an uncomfortable feeling of severe burning sensations in the throat. If it persists, see your health care practitioner.

21. Sudden bouts of bloat. Note: Bloating, water retention are common complaints during perimenopause. Also, Acid reflux and heartburn are very common during perimenopause. Treat them as you would if you weren’t going through menopause.

22. Depression (has a quality from other depression, the inability to cope is overwhelming, there is a feeling of a loss of self. Natural hormone therapy, ameliorates the depression dramatically). Note: There are various natural methods of treating depression. Read Power Surge’s Menopause Survival Tips.

Also, many women using progestins or progesterone supplementation experience “depression” as a side effect. Power Surge recommends only naturally compounded, bio-identical hormones. Naturally compounded estrogen and progesterone supplementation doses can be individually adjusted to suit each woman’s needs. So, if a woman is experiencing depression from progesterone, the level of progesterone supplementation can be reduced until the compounding pharmacist comes up with the right blend. The combination of estrogen and progesterone is important in achieving the desired results. Other remedies, such as St. John’s Wort can be very effective in alleviating the depression associated with menopause.

My personal experience was that my perimenopause-related depression was eliminated when I started using R Soy Protein. R is excellent for mood swings, but I was astonished by the impact it had on the hormone-related “lows” I experienced before using it. Also recommended, The Depression Forum

23. Exacerbation of any existing conditions. Note: Often, conditions women had prior to entering perimenopause become
exaggerated (worse) during the menopause transition.

24. Increase in allergies. Note: Many women who suffer from allergies develop worse allergies during the menopausal years. Many women who’ve never had allergy or respiratory problems may develop them for the first time. Many people don’t realize that histamine levels are affected by hormone levels. Women can develop wheezing, coughing and a host of respiratory problems. This generally disappears as the hormones level out once a woman becomes menopausal.

25. Weight gain. (is often around the waist and thighs, resulting in “the disappearing waistline” and changes in body shape.) A good read, Weight Gain and Fitness Issues

26. Hair loss or thinning, head or whole body, increase in facial hair. Note: There is often a loss of pubic hair during menopause. Many women are more comfortable simply shaving their pubic area instead of having patches of hair.

27. Dizziness, light-headedness, episodes of loss of balance. Note: Although common complaints during menopause, I always recommend anyone suffering from dizziness, dysequilibrium have her blood pressure checked just to be on the safe side. However, women can experience these symptoms during perimenopause without having hypertension.

28. Changes in body odor. Note: I wouldn’t be too concerned about this one. It can happen, but in 13 years of running Power Surge, I’ve heard of relatively few cases of developing body odor during menopause.

29. Electric shock sensation under the skin & in the head (“take the feeling of a rubber band snapping against the skin, multiply it (exponentially, sometimes) radiate it & put it in the layer of tissues between skin & muscle & sometimes a precursor to a hot flash.”) Note: Those buzzing sensations, as though you’ve put your finger into a live electrical socket, can be frightening. They’re all part of the hormones, nerve endings and electrical waves running through our bodies when our hormones are constantly fluctuating. Many women experience this during perimenopause, but it eventually passes.

30. Tingling in the extremities (can also be a symptom of B-12 deficiency, diabetes, or from an alteration in the flexibility of blood vessels n the extremities.)

31. Gum problems, increased bleeding.

32. Burning tongue

33. Osteoporosis (after several years)

34. Brittle fingernails, which peel & break easily.

Some additional signs from Dearest:

  • Internal shaking / tremor-like feelings. Read the Internal Shaking Forum
  • Acne and other skin eruptions
  • Itching wildly and erratic rashes
  • Shoulder pain / joints / arthritis development or flare up in
    preexisting conditions
  • “Heart pain” – a feeling of pain in the area of the
    heart (if persistent, get checked by your health care practitioner)
  • Acid reflux / heartburn / difficulty digesting certain foods

Some of the 34 signs may also be symptoms of one of the following:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Depression with another etiology
  • Other medical conditions (see The Educate Your Body Library)

If you have reason to believe you may have one of these conditions, see your healthcare practitioner for treatment.

Dearest

Note: Remember that although these may be common complaints during menopause, they might also indicate some other health problem. Be sure to consult with your personal health care practitioner before attributing these symptoms to menopause.

By Dearest, Founder of Power Surge   11 comments

alice-avatar“I repeat over and over on the site that any complaints a woman has during menopause should not automatically be attributed to the process of menopause. That’s an important disclaimer. In short, before assuming, not that you are, that any of the things you’ve mentioned in your message are associated with peri or postmenopause, you should be checked by a doctor you respect, trust and admire — one who listens to you and doesn’t just hand you a prescription to resolve your problems.

That having been said, let me tell you that during those “worst” years of perimenopause, I experienced SO MANY strange, inexplicable and, oftentimes, bizarre feelings in my body, I conjured up notions of having a brain tumor, Parkinson’s Disease, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Menniere’s Disease, a heart condition, paralysis, a potential stroke, glaucoma — have I left anything out? And I say none of this with humor.

Perimenopause is the singularly most uncomfortable time of a woman’s life. I’ve posted many times about the internal shaking. It’s been my nemesis and continues this day to plague me.

I had the facial tremors and buzzing sensations on a daily basis. The feelings were so strange, they almost defy description. No one could see it, but it felt as though I were having a stroke. I’d often experience numbness in my face and on my left side at the same time — a red flag would go up because I thought I was definitely having a coronary situation or stroke. Facial ticks, facial tremors, an electrical buzzing in the back of my neck and various parts of my body drove me to distraction.

The good part about this story is that most of those symptoms DO go away once you’ve been without a period for about a year or two. Those feelings, in the majority of cases, are due to the hormonal fluctuations your body is experiencing. Imagine turning the thermostat in your house up and down a dozen or more times a day. Your house wouldn’t know whether to turn on the heat or air conditioning.

Our bodies become very sensitized during this process. Feelings are frightening — we can walk around for days feeling vertigo/dizziness and/or a ringing in the ears (tinnitus). There were days I had to grab onto a bannister or railing for fear that I was going to fall over. My legs still pose a problem — becoming weak and feeling as if they’re not going to support me any longer. Pain in the feet, calves, shoulders, joints aching and paining often to the point of bringing tears to your eyes.

My suggestion to you would be to get yourself a thorough examination by your doctor. Have a blood workup, sugar test, thyroid, hormone levels, total lipid / cholesterol profile. Insist on an Echo cardiogram, not just a cardiogram.

Our bodies are composed of so many different types of hormones — not just estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Our bodies react to the constant ebb and flow of these hormone levels. Our central nervous system, nerve endings produce electrical impulses. Those electrical impulses are felt differently by every woman. Some women never feel them, while others are fraught with all sorts of strange sensations.

Once you’ve been given a clean bill of health by your doctor, the singularly most important thing you need to do during perimenopause is do relaxation techniques. Learn breathing exercises. Use the paper bag method (I call it “brown bagging it) I have described in many areas of the Web site and on these boards. I’ll provide a link to that at the end of this message.

Feed yourself affirmations every day that this, too, shall pass — that you are not dying — that although you feel as if your body is going to hell in a handbasket and you’re never going to survive this transition, you will. That, most importantly, there is nothing to be afraid of even though it feels at times like someone is holding a gun to your head and ready to pull the trigger.

Oh, Lord, would it were so that they’d find a way for women NOT to have to go through menopause. And, further, I am sick of hearing *some* people say that it’s all in our minds, or it’s our nerves, or if we had better things to do with our time, we wouldn’t think about it. I’ve never stopped being busy during this transition, but that didn’t ease the symptoms.

To those people, I say … until you’ve walked a mile in another person’s shoes, you can’t know what they are going through. Women in menopause aren’t hypochondriacs. I have to be dragged and feeling as if I’m not long for the world before I go to the doctor. Why? Because during perimenopause, I have learned… doctors don’t have answers to most of our questions other than to prescribe tranquilizers or anti-depressants or hormones…. and although some of these medications may help in the short term and to get you over the “hump” of perimenopause, most of them don’t work in the long term — or through the duration of perimenopause and it concerns me that there are no real long-term studies on these SSRI’s (anti-depressants).

If you feel you need to take something to get through this process, absolutely take it. Don’t make a martyr or yourself. However, remember, these medications only temporarily mask the symptoms. Learning ways to relax and cope with the changes you’re undergoing works far better over the long haul than anything else.

I have provided various relaxation and breathing techniques on this, the anxiety and the panic boards that can be tremendously helpful. The one I’d recommend is something I refer to as “brown bagging it.” It’s in various places of the site, but I’ll give you a link to my article after I’ve finished this message.

It has been my experience and I believe that of many other women who’ve passed through Power Surge over the seven years it’s been online that once you are in the throes of perimenopause, for about one or two years — perhaps a third (but not often), you will experience every conceivable symptom on the list of 34+ symptoms (* see below). I went through severe migraines and was *never* a headache person in my life. They lasted about a year or two – on and off, not every day, but they eventually stopped. I went through the facial tremors, buzzing experience as though I’d had my finger in an electrical socket. The migraines and severe palpitations, hot flashes, night sweats, crying and severe mood swings, horrific depression so much so that at times I would put my head on the pillow at night and whisper to God, “Please, if I have to feel this way tomorrow, let me not wake up.”

Those feelings — horrible as they are — don’t generally last for the full transitional period. They usually occur during the worst phase of perimenopause and only last about a year or two. That doesn’t mean you won’t ever experience them again in some milder form, but the severity and frequency will certainly decrease — and hormone therapy isn’t the magical answer. Many women using hormones still experience many of these symptoms.

Just remember that as long as you’ve been given the okay regarding your health by your health care provider, these are symptoms of menopause and, yes, I say symptoms. People have said to me, “Why do you call them symptoms? Menopause isn’t an illness.”

I tell them that I know menopause isn’t technically an illness, but seeing as how I have never felt worse in my life, I will not say that I am well.

I get very passionate about this subject and one of the reasons I’ve kept Power Surge an independent entity is because it allows me the opportunity to express myself without wondering who’s going to pay the bills if I tell the truth about the medical profession and some of the techniques of the pharmaceutical companies.

I will never get rich from Power Surge, but knowing that this community has helped so many women understand what they’re going through without just dumping medical abstracts at them and pushing pills on them has been the most gratifying and “freeing” experience of my life.

Finally, let me add my favorite words — THIS, TOO, SHALL PASS. Believe me, I thought in my heart I would never, ever survive perimenopause, but the internal shaking eases up even though it’s hell while you’re going through it. The palps will stop as well. It just takes time and a LOT of patience!

Be good to your body and it will return the favor in spades.

For the “brown bagging it” reference and many other helpful suggestions, check out the Power Surge Menopause Survival Tips article.

…and the ever useful…

* The 34+ Signs of Menopause

Dearest”

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