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Could This Be Menopause?

Silver Cross hosts a girl’s talk on Menopause on June 16

Joliet, IL (June 2, 2011)— Ask two different women what menopause is like, and you'll get two different answers. Some women experience few, if any, symptoms while others must learn to navigate around hot flashes, moodiness, and other problems.

chin“Menopause arrives at the end of a woman's last menstrual period, which typically happens between ages 45 and 55,” says Dr. Shaunda Chin-Bonds, obstetrican/gynecologist on staff at Silver Cross Hospital. “But you may start experiencing hot flashes and other symptoms two to eight years before your last period.”

Has Your Period Changed?
Menstrual changes are often the first sign of approaching menopause. In the years before menopause, a woman's ovaries naturally begin to produce less estrogen. As a result, you may skip periods or have heavier or lighter periods than usual. Declining estrogen levels may also cause the following:

• Hot flashes, which cause hot, flushed skin and sweating. Nighttime hot flashes are known as night sweats.

• Difficulty falling or staying asleep, this may be related to night sweats

• Vaginal dryness and/or irritation

• Urinary incontinence and/or urinary tract infections

• Moodiness, which may be related to sleep problems or stress

Self-Care and Hormones
Dr. Chin-Bonds recommends some simple lifestyle changes that may help relieve menopausal symptoms. These include the following:

• For hot flashes and night sweats: avoid common triggers, such as, spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol. Dress in removable layers. Keep your bedroom cool, and keep cold water on hand.

• For vaginal dryness: Try a water-based lubricant.

• For urinary incontinence: Practice pelvic-floor exercises. Tighten and release your bladder muscles as if trying not to urinate.

• For moodiness: Take time for exercise and relaxation.

Certain menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness, respond to hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT may also protect against osteoporosis. However, HRT could pose serious health risks. For example, estrogen-only therapy might boost a woman’s risk for stroke and ovarian cancer. And using combination therapy—estrogen plus progestin—is linked with a higher risk for blood clots, breast cancer, stroke, and heart disease. If you’re considering HRT, ask your doctor for help in weighing its pros and cons.

Health risks
“A woman's risk for heart disease and stroke increases after menopause,” said Dr. Chin-Bonds. Natural estrogen may help to protect the heart and blood vessels by decreasing the LDL ("bad") cholesterol and increasing the HDL ("good") cholesterol in the blood and by having positive effects on blood vessels. “Although hormonal therapy (HT) may help relieve menopausal symptoms, it does not appear to prevent heart disease and increases the risk for breast cancer. You can take other steps to reduce your risk for heart disease after menopause by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking, and, if you have diabetes or high blood pressure, following your treatment plan.”

Until a woman turns 30, her body builds bone; after age 30, bone is broken down faster than it is replaced. Mild bone loss will not cause problems, but when the loss becomes excessive, bones weaken and fractures occur. Eating a diet that provides 1,000 to 1,500 mg of calcium a day and 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D (or taking equivalent amounts in supplements), doing weight-bearing exercises and taking medications that help build bone can help prevent excessive bone loss and fractures.

Learn More
Join Dr. Shaunda Chin-Bonds, obstetrician/gynecologist, for Girl Talk: Making it Through Menopause on Thursday, June 16 from 6:30 to7:30 p.m. at the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health, 1870 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox. She will discuss the myths of menopause and treatment options available enabling women to handle menopause successfully. To register, call 1-888-660-HEAL or visit www.imatter.silvercross.org

About Dr. Shaunda Chin-Bonds
Shaunda Chin-Bonds, D.O., attended Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. She then completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at St. James Hospital in Olympia Fields. Her office is located with Southwest Women’s Health Care, 1938 E. Lincoln Highway Suite 106, New Lenox. To schedule an appointment, call (815) 519-3817

About Silver Cross Hospital
Silver Cross Hospital is a not-for-profit health care provider serving Will County and southwest suburban communities since 1895.  Silver Cross has been recognized as a Thomson Reuters 100 Top Hospitals National Award winner for the last seven consecutive years and as one of America’s Most Customer Friendly Hospitals by the American Alliance of Healthcare Providers. With over 2,900 employees, physicians and volunteers, Silver Cross operates a 304-bed acute care hospital and eight satellite facilities providing outpatient services and physician offices. Construction has begun to build a state-of-the-art replacement hospital opening in 2012 in New Lenox.

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