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Thursday, June 13, 2024

There’s no need to suffer through menopause

By Veita Bland, M.D. / May 12, 2023

Menopause is a normal condition with symptoms such as hot flashes. Some treatments like estrogen replacement therapy can help women ease the discomfort. Check with your doctor to determine whether this treatment is a viable option for you.

Throughout the years, the life stage of menopause has been a punchball of many jokes. Today, the jokes have softened as scientists and healthcare professionals study and learn more about how to help women navigate this biological process.

So many times, as a healthcare practitioner, I hear women complain of the change in their bodies as they approach menopause. These are changes none seems to like. My patients often describe physical and mental conditions they are experiencing as they enter and traverse menopause such as brain fog, tiredness, anxiety and lack of sleep. The biggest complaints reported are weight gain without a significant change in one’s diet or exercise routine and the dreaded “hot flashes”. The latter may present differently in different women or not at all.

These symptoms can affect a woman’s life, her career, her relationships and most importantly her sense of who she feels she really is. It is important that we examine what menopause is and is not.

In a recent commentary published in Medscape diabetes, endocrinologist Beverly Tchang, M.D. and Jessica R. Starr, M.D. tackled the topic of menopause.

They first reminded us that menopause is a normal phase of a cis woman’s life journey. It results from fluctuation and eventual loss of the ability to produce estrogen. It is not a disease. It is a normal condition and most women do not have to suffer through it. There is appropriate help out there to ease its physical and mental effects.

Let’s allow Drs. Tchang and Starr to break it down for us. First, night sweats can result in sleep disturbances. Women handle this by making a hormone that makes them hungry as they are trying to stay awake and thus, they unfortunately eat more.

The normal estrogen that is made by a woman can suppress the appetite. When there are fluctuations in the estrogen levels it can result in varying degrees of cravings and hunger.

Anxiety and mental changes such as brain fog are related to the hot flashes which are associated with increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Increased cortisol can result in weight gain.

Some women find it harder to make healthier food choices or engage in physical exercise when they feel uncomfortable and are having intense menopause symptoms.

There is help in the form of estrogen replacement. This treatment will vary in woman and will look different if the woman does or does not have a uterus along with her pre-existing medical conditions. Some heath issues a healthcare provider will be evaluating when considering estrogen replacement therapy include a personal/ family history of breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. These are very serious medical conditions which require a very in-depth conversation between the patient and the healthcare provider to determine whether estrogen replacement is the right treatment.

Again, as Drs. Tchang and Starr report, just because menopause is a normal condition does not mean it has to be suffered through. Contact your healthcare provider to determine whether estrogen replacement therapy is the correct treatment for your menopause symptoms.


Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at ideas@blandclinicpa.com.




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