Healthy Living: Menopause
When it comes to process of menopause, it's different for everyone. According to researchers, it can be different depending on a woman’s particular ethnic background. Marcie Fraser explains.
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As a woman ages, menopause occurs when the ovaries become resistant to the hormones FSH and LH.
"When the ovaries become more resistant then you don't make follicles and hence you don't make as much estrogen and progesterone," said Dr. Naomi Bloomfield, OB/GYN.
Peri-menopause, the transitional period leading up to menopause, can take between seven to ten years.
"You can have irregularities like you were talking about or heavy periods like you were talking about," said Dr. Bloomfield.
The most common side effect is hot flashes. Other symptoms include thinning of the bones and a reduction in skin elasticity, causing wrinkles.
"Vaginal dryness because the skin of the vagina is very estrogen sensitive, it becomes very thin and less stretchy and intercourse is painful," said Dr. Bloomfield.
The average age of menopause is 51, but some studies indicate African Americans transition earlier.
"Perhaps they may go through, maybe on the average six months earlier than Caucasian women. We do know they experience more hot flashes, however they are less bothered by the symptoms," said Dr. Bloomfield.
Weight gain can be expected but some gain more than others.
"Black women are more likely to get more weight than Caucasians, Asians or Hispanics when they are in menopause," said Dr. Bloomfield.
While fewer women are taking hormone replacement therapy more are trying natural remedies such as vitamins. The doctors do advise that you should be careful, since nothing has been proven to work, but it doesn't mean it won't give you some relief.
"A lot of people suggest soy products that have phytoestrogens and they are a less potent plant estrogen that can help; soy bean; soy milk. Black Cohosh to decrease the hot flashes. A lot of people say vitamin E suppositories for vaginal dryness," said Dr. Bloomfield.