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Flies and mice fed a high-protein diet were less likely to be awoken by movement during sleep than animals on a regular diet

A high-protein diet may promote deeper sleep, according to a study that found mice and flies that eat more protein are less likely to wake up from movement-related disturbances.

“The general idea makes sense. We sleep when our other needs are taken care of,” says Rafael Pelayo at Stanford University in California. “So, if you have some better-quality food, in this sense a protein-rich diet, then that would make you sleep deeper. At least it did in flies and mice. This may not apply to humans.”

Journal reference: Cell DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2023.02.022

Reduced levels of oestrogen and progesterone seem to be what makes post-menopausal women more likely to have symptoms of sleep apnoea, including snoring, irregular breathing or gasping at night.

Middle-aged women who have lower levels of oestrogen and progesterone are more likely to snore, breathe irregularly and gasp while sleeping, which are all symptoms of sleep apnoea.

The involvement of these chemicals means targeted hormone therapy might prove useful for post-menopausal women, says Kai Triebner at the University of Bergen in Norway.

“Women live, on average, longer than men, but during later years, the quality of women’s life is comparatively low, which is inherently associated with their [low-oestrogen] hormone profile,” says Triebner. “Snoring and sleep-related breathing problems add to the burden.”

His team interviewed 774 women aged between 40 and 67 years old, mostly white, living in seven European countries about their respiratory health and lifestyles. The team also carried out clinical exams and took blood samples. The women, some of whom hadn’t yet reached menopause, completed questionnaires about their sleep habits and health. The study didn’t include pre or post-menopausal trans men.

Nearly half the women reported that they had a “disturbing snore”, says Triebner. In addition, 14 per cent had irregular breathing and 13 per cent gasped while sleeping.

Blood analyses revealed that the participants’ oestrogen and progesterone levels varied widely, ranging from just a few units per litre in some women to tens of thousands of units per litre in others. Those variations had clear associations with sleep apnoea, he says. As the levels of oestrone – a kind of oestrogen – doubled, women were 19 per cent less likely to snore. And as progesterone levels doubled, women were 9 per cent less likely to snore.

Within the group of women who snored, there was a 20 per cent drop in the chances of having irregular breathing as oestrogen levels doubled. And a doubling in progesterone levels was linked to a 12 per cent lower likelihood of waking up feeling like they are choking.

PLoS One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0269569

The UK’s “unresponsive and defensive” healthcare system has failed thousands of women who developed life-changing conditions after pelvic mesh surgery, according to a review into the treatment.

“The report is hard hitting, harrowing and recognises the total failure in patient safety, regulation and oversight in the UK,” Kath Sansom of campaign group Sling the Mesh said in a statement.

The Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review, led by Julia Cumberlege and announced by then-health secretary Jeremy Hunt in 2018, has involved two years of data gathering from women who received vaginal and other pelvic mesh implants, mostly to treat stress urinary incontinence and prolapse that developed after childbirth.

Many women went on to develop chronic pain, nerve damage, bowel conditions, recurring infections and mobility issues, among others. The mesh can become embedded in surrounding tissues, making it very difficult to remove. The review found that it is unclear whether the mesh can change in shape or size after it is implanted, and whether chemicals from the mesh can trigger immune conditions, which have been experienced by some women.

The number of women affected by these complications is unknown, but thousands have joined support and campaign groups. Many women weren’t told about the risks of the procedure, and describe how their symptoms and complaints were dismissed by doctors as normal consequences of childbirth or menopause, says the review.

“The narrative is common,” says Sohier Elneil, a urogynaecologist and uroneurologist in London, who says she comes across similar cases on a daily basis. “Patient safety must be key to everything we do,” she says. “It should be a given, but, quite clearly from the report, it hasn’t been.”

People who have been pregnant or have breastfed a baby are less likely to experience an early menopause. This may be because ovulation is temporarily stopped during pregnancy and slowed down during breastfeeding, maintaining a reserve of eggs for longer.

The team found that people who had experienced pregnancies that lasted at least six months had a lower risk of experiencing an early menopause – defined as menopause before the age of 45 – than those who hadn’t.

“We observed a linear trend,” says Langton. “Women who had one pregnancy had an 8 per cent lower risk, those who had two pregnancies had a 16 per cent lower risk, and those that had three pregnancies had a 22 per cent lower risk.”

The link isn’t explained by infertility, says Langton. Her team accounted for this by removing people who had reported that they were trying to conceive but hadn’t become pregnant from the study sample. “There was no difference in the results,” says Langton.

Breastfeeding also lowered the risk of early menopause. People who breastfed for a total of seven to 12 months over their lifetime who had any number of infants were 28 per cent less likely to experience menopause before the age of 45 than those who had breastfed for less than a month. Those who exclusively breastfed for a total of seven to 12 months over their lifetime and who had three pregnancies had a 32 per cent lower risk of early menopause.

JAMA Network Open DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.19615

Social stress may release hormones that affect bone loss, a finding that might be linked to the higher incidence of bone fractures after the menopause.

In a study of more than 8000 women aged 50 to 79, researchers found that those who reported higher levels of social stress – defined as strained relationships or stress related to social ties – were also at higher risk of bone fractures.

Women who reported high social strain and poorer quality relationships – and therefore, higher levels of stress – were found to have a larger decline in their bone density measurements over these years.

After adjusting for age, race, education, and other life style effects such as smoking and hormone therapy use, the team found that for each point of higher social strain as measured by the questionnaires, there was an associated increase of about 0.08 per cent loss of bone mineral density at the femoral neck – a portion of the hip. They also saw about 0.1 per cent greater loss across the whole hip, and about 0.7 per cent greater loss at the lower spine.

Previous research found that higher levels of stress hormones such as cortisol were associated with lower bone mineral density in the spine, and the team suggests that social stress may increase fracture risk by altering bone-regulating hormones.

Postmenopausal women may be more likely to experience social stress than their male peers. “There is research showing that social stress is higher in aging women than in men and this may be attributed to women being more likely to be caregivers in older age,” says Follis.

The team found that women with low social strain tended to be more educated and more physically active than those with high social strain. Black, Latina, and Native American women were more likely to report high social strain than White and Asian women.

Mood-related issues like anxiety and depression are super-common among women on the pill. Almost half of all women who go on the pill stop using it within the first year because of intolerable side effects, and the one most frequently cited is unpleasant changes in mood. Sometimes it’s intolerable anxiety; other times, it’s intolerable depression; or maybe both simultaneously. And even though some women’s doctors may tell them that those mood changes aren’t real or important, a growing body of research suggests otherwise.

… according to the research, you might have a greater risk of experiencing negative mood effects on the pill if:

  • You have a history of depression or mental illness (although there is also evidence that the pill can stabilize mood in certain women with mental illness).
  • You have a personal or family history of mood-related side effects on the birth control pill.
  • You are taking progestin-only pills.
  • You are using a non-oral product.
  • You are taking multi-phasic pills (pills with an increasing dose of hormones across the cycle rather than a constant dose).
  • You are 19 or younger.

What kind of hot flasher are you?

The hot flash — that sudden feeling of warmth that can leave a woman flushed and drenched in sweat — has long been considered the defining symptom of menopause. But new research shows that the timing and duration of hot flashes can vary significantly from woman to woman, and that women appear to fall evenly into four hot-flash categories.

Some women, called “early onset” hot flashers, begin to experience hot flashes long before menopause. Symptoms can begin five to 10 years before a woman’s last period, but the symptoms stop around the time of the final menstrual cycle.

Then there are women who don’t experience their first hot flash until after their final menstrual period, the “late onset” hot flasher. And some women fall into a group the researchers called the “lucky few.” Some of these women never experience a single hot flash, whereas others briefly suffer only a few flashes near the end of the menopausal transition.

And then there are the “super flashers.” This unlucky group includes one in four midlife women. The super flasher begins to experience hot flashes relatively early in life, similar to the early onset group. But her symptoms continue well past menopause, like those in the late onset group. Her symptoms can last 15 years or more.

For some women, reaching the menopause can be one of life’s milestones, but when it will happen is a big unknown. Now a blood test can help predict when a woman’s last menstrual period is likely to be.

The test, called MenoCheck, can’t give a firm date, but it can tell women who are over 47 if they are likely to stop having periods within the next year. It would be most useful for those considering being sterilised or having surgery for painful or heavy periods, says Nanette Santoro at the University of Colorado Medical School in Aurora. “They may be wondering how much longer they have to put up with this.”

The average age at which menopause occurs is 51, but in most cases, it can happen any time from a person’s forties to early sixties. Periods usually become more infrequent before stopping for good. They stop because the ovaries run out of functioning eggs, which leads to lower levels of anti-Mullerian hormone – a chemical made by eggs – in blood.

Previous tests haven’t been able to measure the very low levels of anti-Mullerian hormone present in the year or two before menopause. But MenoCheck, which has been on sale for about a year, is more sensitive. To see how well it does, Santoro’s team used it on blood samples taken at yearly intervals from about 1500 women taking part in a different menopause study. Santoro is a consultant for MenoCheck’s manufacturer Ansh Labs.

The team found that those over 47 whose anti-Mullerian hormone level was below a certain cut-off had a 67 per cent chance of having their last period within the next year, and an 82 per cent chance of having it within two.

Most women wouldn’t need to take the test to know that they are nearing the menopause, says Esther Eisenberg at the US’s National Institutes of Health.

Yet without it, women can only be advised that if their periods have started to become irregular, they are likely to stop completely within four years, says Santoro.

Low estrogen levels can make women more vulnerable to trauma at some points in their menstrual cycles, while high levels of the female sex hormone can partially protect them from emotional disturbance, according to new research.

…Low estrogen levels can make women more vulnerable to trauma at some points in their menstrual cycles, while high levels of the female sex hormone can partially protect them from emotional disturbance, the research suggests. 

Depression and anxiety disorders are twice as common in women as in men, but the reason for this gender difference is unclear. The new work, reviewed by Harvard’s Mohammed Milad and colleagues in a commentary, suggests that women are most at risk for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when their estrogen is low during the menstrual cycle.

…Estrogen calms the fear response in healthy women and female rats, according to the Harvard researchers, who were led by Kelimer Lebron-Milad, an HMS instructor of psychiatry. The Emory researchers, led by postdoctoral researcher Ebony Glover, showed that the same is true for women suffering from PTSD. The higher the estrogen was in their blood when they trained on a fear-extinction task, the less likely women were to startle.

…PTSD is common in women after a trauma such as rape or sexual assault, which studies say are experienced by 25 to 30 percent of women in their lifetimes, and the symptoms last on average four times as long in women as in men after trauma. This new research suggests the reason for this susceptibility may be the monthly menstrual change in estrogen.

I am sick to death of hearing women should focus on cardio exercise and leave strength training to men, says Dr Bernadine Jones.

Rose George writes about women’s exercise plummeting (Pandemic knocked you off your stride? An active woman’s tips for getting fit again, 26 July). The NHS wants us to vigorously run and moderately mow the lawn,, and then also strength train twice a week. Those of us who do all the housework and all the career-aspiring thinking work and then all the childcare would like to know where this time could be retrieved from? Often, we are pointed to spin classes and 2kg dumbbells and told “you can fit in a run in the morning”.

Here’s another solution: three times a week, after you deal with the kids and before work, lift a barbell loaded with two 25kg plates (or whatever you can manage) for 30-45 minutes, and then down a protein shake. Do the same thing every week, just a wee bit heavier. Ignore the “fitfluencers” doing donkey kicks while jumping with 50kg dumbbells. It doesn’t need to be fancy. You don’t need to be bathed in sweat. You don’t need to spend an hour hating yourself on a treadmill. You don’t even need to get that tired.

I am sick to death of hearing how women should focus on cardio and leave the weight room to the men. We end up intimidated and unsure of ourselves, sticking to the step class when our bones are crying out for heavy resistance. There is increasing evidence that women need resistance and strength training to stave off osteoporosis post-menopause. It certainly doesn’t need to be an either/or situation, but if you’re short on time, consider the barbell and lift slightly heavier weights each week. Your joints, your children and your 80-year-old self will thank you.

Dr Bernadine Jones

Steroid hormones regulate metabolic flexibility at the level of the mitochondria. Estradiol, the most frequently studied among the steroid hormones, plays a pivotal role in determining how food fuel is converted into cellular fuel or ATP. 

When we eliminate estradiol with medications such Lupron and other GnRH agonists or antagonists, or when we remove a woman’s ovaries, depleting her primary source for estrogen synthesis, metabolic flexibility diminishes significantly.*  

With the lack of metabolic flexibility comes a number of health issues, some noticeable, like weight gain, and others less noticeable, at least initially, like cardiac and neurodegenerative diseases.


A new study in Denmark, published in JAMA Psychiatry, investigates the effects of hormonal contraception on risk for developing depression and using antidepressant medication. The study was partially funded by the Lundbeck Foundation (Lundbeck is a pharmaceutical company that sells antidepressants). The results of the nationwide study, analyzing data from over one million women, suggest that hormonal contraceptive use may increase the risk of depression and use of antidepressants, especially for adolescents.

… The authors conclude, “Our data indicate that adolescent girls are more sensitive than older women to the influence of hormonal contraceptive use on the risk for first use of antidepressants or first diagnosis of depression.”


Doctors are being advised not to prescribe common painkillers, including paracetamol and ibuprofen, for patients with chronic pain not caused by an injury or other medical condition.

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said there was little evidence they help.

And it suggests there is evidence long-term use can be harmful.

Its draft guidance recommends antidepressants, acupuncture or psychological therapy instead.

… They could also consider recommending a course of cognitive therapy, aimed at helping patients accept their condition or change the way they thought about it.

… The guidelines acknowledged there is a lot of uncertainty in this diagnosis, and “normal or negative test results can be communicated in a way that is perceived as being dismissive of pain”.

When it comes to chronic pain more broadly – defined as pain that “persists or recurs” for more than three months, no matter the cause – NICE advises using these new guidelines alongside existing guidance on the management of specific conditions.

That includes headaches, back pain, arthritis and endometriosis.

The reduction or discontinuation of psychiatric medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotics or anxiolytics can cause physical and psychological withdrawal and rebound symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms may be so severe that patients are unable to continue reducing the dose, regardless of the medication’s efficacy.

In 2010, the Tapering Project was started to address these problems through the development of tapered doses of medication provided in strip packaging: tapering strips.

Tapering strips allow patients to regulate the tempo of their dose reduction over time and enable them to taper more gradually, conveniently and safely than is possible using currently available standard medication, thereby preventing withdrawal symptoms.


In a tapering strip, medication is packaged in a roll or strip of small daily pouches. Each pouch is numbered and has the same or slightly lower dose than the package before it.p


Strips come in series covering 28 days and patients can use one or more strips to regulate the tempo of their dose reduction over time. Dose and day information printed on each pouch allow patients to precisely record and monitor the progress of their reduction.

For whom?

Tapering strips are developed for medication in cases where doing so improves the medical care available and meets an unmet need. See the list with available tapering strips.

In a new article in European Neuropsychopharmacology, researchers Mark Horowitz and David Taylor provide guidance for tapering psychiatric drugs, whether for full discontinuation or to reduce the dose. They suggest a slow, individualized taper to minimize withdrawal effects.

“The general principle when reducing or stopping psychiatric medications is as follows. Make a small reduction, monitor for withdrawal effects or destabilization of the patient, then ensure stability before making further reductions. Reductions should probably be made in smaller and smaller increments because of the pharmacology of the drugs; the final dose before completely stopping will need to be very small.”

Horowitz and Taylor have previously written about this approach for antidepressants in Lancet Psychiatry and for antipsychotics in JAMA Psychiatry (with Sir Robin Murray).

…Some people may require months or even years to slowly decrease their dose before eventually stopping the drug. The researchers write:

“Withdrawal effects (and relapse) might be minimized by stopping psychiatric drugs over a period long enough for underlying adaptations to the drug to resolve.”

According to the researchers, based on studies of the drugs’ effects on the brain, psychiatric drugs impact the brain along with a hyperbolic relationship. That is, at low doses, small adjustments have huge impacts—but at high doses, even large adjustments have less of an impact.

“The relationship between dose of a psychiatric drug and its effects is hyperbolic,” they write. “This is a consequence of the law of mass action: when there are few molecules of a drug present at the site of action, every additional molecule has a large incremental effect, but when higher concentrations are present each additional molecule has less and less effect, as receptors become saturated.”

This means that dose reductions should not be linear (reduced by the same amount each time, e.g., 40, 30, 20, 10, 0 mg). Instead, one strategy is to reduce the current dose by 10% each time, especially ensuring that the last adjustment—to full discontinuation—is very small.

Contraceptive freedom made women in Britain richer, but the prescription rate is falling and even after decades its effects on the body are far from clear

It was one of the greatest medical and social advances of the 20th century, a quantum leap for women’s freedom. Sixty years ago today Britain’s young, married women were told that if they started taking a tiny pill every day they could be both sexually liberated and in complete control of their fertility.

….When we asked for your experiences we heard from women of all ages. For most, this form of contraception has had unparalleled benefits: a way to manage heavy periods, PMS or other painful conditions, a greater sense of control over one’s body and, of course, a way to prevent pregnancy.

Others had a different story to tell. They spoke of lowered sex drive, mood swings, depression and emotional numbness. The list of physical side effects was long: spots, bloating, weight gain, cramps, headaches, vertigo, tender breasts, hair loss.

Today the pill is still the most popular type of contraception for women in the UK, but prescription rates are falling. NHS data for England shows that in 2020-21 there was a 39 per cent uptake of the contraceptive pill, down from 45 per cent in six years. So what’s behind the decline? And 60 years on, how much do we really know about the pill?

Floating around the internet in recent weeks was an announcement from Argentinian researchers who, quite by accident, found that sterile women’s health products were anything but sterile.

It turns out that cotton grown from genetically modified cotton seeds and sprayed with glyphosate (RoundUp and other herbicides) across the growth cycle, retain, and likely leach, glyphosate from the products that the cotton is spun into. It should not be a surprise that those cotton-based products retain the chemicals from which they were grown or processed, but it was. Not because the idea is far-fetched, it isn’t. Indeed, it is biologically more likely that these chemicals are retained than it is that they somehow would magically disappear post processing. What was surprising is that we never thought about this before.

When we consider that 89% of cotton crops are now genetically modified to be glyphosate tolerant, the implications of glyphosate transfer from what are considered sterile medical and hygiene products directly into the bloodstream of the users should give us pause. Heck, it should have given us pause many years ago, but it didn’t and wouldn’t yet if it were not for some accidental finding in a lab studying something else entirely. This accident speaks volumes about how thoroughly we test, or rather, do not test, many of the products we have on the market. It is precisely this lack of testing and lack of understanding that leads to the preponderance of chronic health conditions from which so many in the Western world suffer.

Glyphosate and Women’s Health

If we look at women’s health in particular, I cannot help but wondering if glyphosate leaching tampons have something to do with the increase in menstrual related problems like fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS, and others. The female vagina and cervix are remarkably efficient vehicles for drug absorption. The vaginal epithelium provides a vast surface area that is richly vascularized and highly innervated. Drugs and other chemicals absorbed via this route directly enter the bloodstream and avoid detoxification via the liver, meaning lower dosages are required to reach the same effect as an orally ingested medication. Small concentrations, therefore, could induce large effects. And small, regular exposures to glyphosate is likely what we get from tampon use.

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Infertility affects as many as 12.3% of women ages 15-44 (or 7.5 million women) in the United States.

Consequently, it is imperative to find methods to help women overcome infertility so that they may conceive a healthy child.

Many of the current treatments for infertility are costly, have low success rates, and have the potential to negatively affect long-term health. The common medical interventions used for infertility include fertility medications, in-vitro fertilization (IVF), and intrauterine insemination (IUI). Fertility medications, such as clomiphene and gonadotropins, stimulate growth of the ovarian follicle, followed by follicular rupture induced by a human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) trigger shot.

These medications are often used in conjunction with IVF and IUI. IVF is an assisted reproductive technology that includes combining an egg and a sperm in a laboratory and then transferring the fertilized embryo into the uterus. IUI involves placing the sperm inside of the uterus to help with fertilization. Although less invasive and expensive than IVF, in IUI the sperm has to fertilize the egg on its own within the woman’s reproductive tract.

Research suggests a link between a variety of health conditions and subsequent infertility, including polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, advanced maternal age (AMA), high body mass index (BMI), the MTHFR genetic mutation, hypothyroidism (both clinical and subclinical), and poor ovarian reserve.

In this article, we provide case evidence for alternative methods for managing infertility that are effective at improving the underlying condition leading to infertility – methods that are less expensive than medical intervention and are supportive of long-term health.

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…Hormonal birth control creates myriad problems for the thyroid, beginning with the depletion of vital nutrients such as magnesium, selenium, zinc, and essential B Vitamins, like folate. The thyroid needs these important nutrients, especially zinc and selenium, to convert T4 to T3. Unfortunately, no amount of supplements will help your body overcome this obstacle.

While depleting nutrients, birth control also elevates production of Thyroid Binding Globulin (TBG). This protein binds with thyroid hormones to carry them through the blood stream, but renders them unable to attach to cell receptors. Consequently, the body may try to compensate by overproducing T3 and T4, without actually increasing hormone activity. This could explain why some women develop Grave’s Disease after stopping The Pill. Their TBG levels return to normal, but their body continues overproducing T3 and T4.

…As the central organ in the metabolic process, the liver produces proteins, breaking down fat and hormones to generate energy. When we overload the body with an unnatural flood of factory-produced, artificial hormones, the liver becomes sluggish and inefficient. This sets off a toxic cascade of side effects that leads to inflammation, and could ultimately contribute to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune disease.

The National Institutes of Health were concerned about hormonal birth control’s affect of the endocrine system from the very early days. When Dr. Philip Corfman, the Director of the Center for Population Research, testified at the Nelson Pill Hearings in 1970 on behalf of the NIH, he warned that The Pill decreased the liver’s ability to change and dispose of certain chemicals, even decreasing its ability to excrete bile.

A specialised microbial community in humans is the vaginal microbiome. Successful human reproduction depends heavily on the correct balance of these microbes.

An optimal vaginal microbiome results in the production of lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, maintaining a level of acidity that keeps pathogenic bacteria at bay.

When the vaginal community becomes disturbed, on the other hand, acidity decreases. Pathogenic or other opportunistic bacteria may then invade, which can cause bacterial vaginosis. This is best described as a state of dysbiosis rather than infection.

Research suggests that probiotic supplementation may be of benefit in maintaining homeostasis of the vaginal microbiome thereby reducing the risk of infection, dysbiosis and subsequent inflammation and immune dysfunction.

Fat tissue in women with polycystic ovary syndrome produces an inadequate amount of the hormone that regulates how fats and glucose are processed, promoting increased insulin resistance and inflammation, glucose intolerance, and greater risk of diabetes and heart disease, according to this study.

Fat tissue is the body’s largest hormone-producing organ, secreting a large number of hormones that affect appetite, bowel function, brain function, and fat and sugar metabolism. One of these hormones is adiponectin, which in sufficient quantities encourages the proper action of insulin on fats and sugars and reduces inflammation. Women with PCOS produce a smaller amount of adiponectin than women who do not have the disease, in response to other fat-produced hormones, according to the research to be published in the February issue of Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

While Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is often associated with obesity, women with the disorder are not necessarily more likely to be overweight. In fact, in the study, adiponectin was lacking in PCOS patients whose weight was considered to be in a healthy range, as well as in those patients who were overweight.

PCOS also can cause symptoms such as irregular ovulation and menstruation, infertility, excess male hormones, excess male-like hair growth (hirsutism), and polycystic ovaries. About two-thirds of women with PCOS have insulin resistance, an impairment in the effectiveness of the hormone insulin, which regulates the body’s utilization of fats and sugars, and which results in a higher risk for diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease.

A research team has found a small area of the brain in mice that can profoundly control the animals’ sense of pain. Somewhat unexpectedly, this brain center turns pain off, not on. It’s located in an area where few people would have thought to look for an anti-pain center, the amygdala, which is often considered the home of negative emotions and responses, like the fight or flight response and general anxiety.

Somewhat unexpectedly, this brain center turns pain off, not on. It’s also located in an area where few people would have thought to look for an anti-pain center, the amygdala, which is often considered the home of negative emotions and responses, like the fight or flight response and general anxiety.

“People do believe there is a central place to relieve pain, that’s why placebos work,” said senior author Fan Wang, the Morris N. Broad Distinguished Professor of neurobiology in the School of Medicine. “The question is where in the brain is the center that can turn off pain.”

Using a technology called optogenetics, which uses light to activate a small population of cells in the brain, the researchers found they could turn off the self-caring behaviors a mouse exhibits when it feels uncomfortable by activating the CeAga neurons. Paw-licking or face-wiping behaviors were “completely abolished” the moment the light was switched on to activate the anti-pain center.

“It’s so drastic,” Wang said. “They just instantaneously stop licking and rubbing.”

When the scientists dampened the activity of these CeAga neurons, the mice responded as if a temporary insult had become intense or painful again. They also found that low-dose ketamine, an anesthetic drug that allows sensation but blocks pain, activated the CeAga center and wouldn’t work without it.

Women’s bodies are different from men’s from cellular level upwards, yet the same treatments are usually prescribed for both sexes – to the detriment of women. Dr Alyson McGregor raises the alarm.

McGregor believes the reason can be traced back to the beginnings of organised medical research when it was decided that women of childbearing age should be excluded from trials – effectively taking sex differences out of the picture. The reason was to protect them, but for the medical profession and pharmaceutical industry it also made work faster, easier and cheaper by taking out pesky variables such as menstrual cycles and hormone surges. In Sex Matters, McGregor lists multiple ways that today’s drugs can still fail women as a direct result. Women metabolise drugs differently (there are lots of reasons, but many are linked to different hormones and different levels of enzymes), so certain drugs remain in the system for longer or drop to dangerously low levels at certain points of the menstrual cycle. McGregor also shows how common fillers used in generic drugs – which are typically only tested for two weeks in a group of healthy males – can alter bioavailability (how much of the drug that will reach the body and work as planned) in women by up to 24%, which is why she often asks presenting patients if they’ve recently switched to a generic.

One particularly frightening example is the impact of medication on our QT – that’s the resting time between heartbeats. A woman’s QT is already longer than a man’s (a result of men’s teenage testosterone surge) and many prescription drugs – painkillers, antidepressants, antihistamines, antibiotics – cause incremental QT increases as a side-effect. For women on multiple meds (and statistically, women are most likely to be on multiple meds), the risk of these combined increases can range from simple arrhythmia to sudden cardiac death.

McGregor gives the example of one patient, a woman in her 40s whose back pain resulted in a common medication spiral – painkillers then sleeping tablets then steroids then anti-anxiety meds, and finally an antibiotic for a UTI. This cocktail, she believes, caused the patient sudden cardiac death, something she says is “more common than many physicians would like to admit”. One German study found that 66% of long QT syndrome patients were female – and of these, 60% were drug-related.

“Hydroxychloroquine, the drug being trialled as a treatment for Covid [and hyped by Donald Trump], also has the side-effect of prolonging QT interval,” says McGregor. “If it’s prescribed to a female, we should have her QT interval measured first, but that’s not even in the discussion.” In fact, she is concerned that in the race to find a Covid vaccine, reverting to standard research protocols (male cells, male animals and no sex-specific analysis of human trials) could result in dangerous gaps in knowledge.

…Sometimes my own perimenopausal moods are more rage than anxiety. I woke up the other day and noticed that my husband had placed a couple of champagne corks on top of a picture frame. It made me want to start breaking things. What is this, a goddamned student house? In this state, I noticed things I had missed before: bags spilling out of cupboards, stacks of receipts and change on a table, my son’s stuff everywhere. “It’s like living in Hoarders!” I ranted. If I’d had a pack of matches I could have burned the place down.

When I open the book How to Face the Change of Life with Confidence, published in 1955, I see a question from a woman, 37, who has wild mood swings before she gets her period. The expert male gynaecologist author tells her: “Man reaches physical maturity at 25, and emotional maturity at 35. Unfortunately, you seem to have missed the boat somewhere along the line, and you are still in your childish stage of emotional reactions.”

Decades of that sort of condescension have kept women from asking certain questions twice.

“Almost every woman I know of my age is feeling confused and in a state of transition even as most of us are at the top of our game in our careers, financially stable and pretty comfortable with being parents,” said Yvette, 43, a Californian who is the COO of a video game company. “I spend a lot of time with other friends of my age. We talk about the fact that we are widening and softening where we don’t want to and don’t know if it makes us shallow or not feminists to do something about it; the fear that we don’t know how to monitor our children’s screen time; the fact that we don’t really like or need sex very often; our worry that we are losing time to try our ‘dream’ job.”

Experts in gynaecology maintain that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) remains the most effective scientifically proven treatment for the symptoms of menopause. And yet, fearing the increased risk of cancer, stroke and blood clots that we’ve long heard comes with a hormone therapy regimen, we’ve gone rogue. That, perhaps, is why Gwyneth Paltrow’s online community Goop can get away with selling us expensive jade eggs to stick up our yonis.

Women who have sex more than once a month go into menopause later.

Having regular sex during the perimenopausal and menopausal period can also help make sex less painful with time because it helps keep the vagina open, she points out — so sex sessions on the regular certainly can’t hurt.

A number of things can be going on with your body if you’ve started bleeding after menopause, Julian Peskin, MD, an ob-gyn at Cleveland Clinic, tells Health.

But let’s be clear about one thing: It’s not your period. “If a patient’s postmenopausal, there should be no reason for them to bleed,” says Dr. Peskin. Once you’ve hit menopause, there’s no going back. So don’t try to convince yourself it’s probably just one more period to avoid another doctor’s visit.

In fact, you should definitely get to the doctor as soon as you notice postmenopausal bleeding, says Dr. Peskin. This is because, while some causes of postmenopausal bleeding are relatively harmless, others are more serious. The two that could be more complicated to treat, and potentially fatal, are endometrial cancer and fibroids that have become cancerous. In fact, “one in 10 women who present with postmenopausal bleeding will have endometrial cancer,” says Dr. Peskin. Therefore, you need to immediately get checked out if you’re bleeding down there after you’ve already hit menopause.

That said, the source of postmenopausal bleeding could be something pretty easy to deal with. Examples include benign polyps in the uterus, a vaginal infection, or even certain medications. Dr. Peskin points out that doctors evaluating patients for postmenopausal bleeding should always ask their patients about their medication history because taking hormones can cause irregular bleeding after menopause.

Menopause, despite the fact that it has happened or will happen to every single person with a vagina, is still a pretty confusing milestone—especially for those who experience it.

For the most part, it’s common knowledge that, once a woman stops having her period, then she also stops having the ability to have children. Or at least it was, until news reports highlight that women past childbearing age—like Omaha native Cecile Edge, at 61 years old—are able to give birth to their own grandchildren in some instances.

So what gives? Can you give birth after menopause? Health asked ob-gyns about any misconceptions that may be had around if (and how) someone can give birth after hitting menopause—and what to know about giving birth past childbearing age.


One of the more pervasive, and frankly, annoying myths about menopausal women is that they cannot build muscle after a certain age. The argument goes that as certain hormones decline, so too does the ability to build muscle. On the surface, that seems like a reasonable argument. Indeed, there have been an endless number of studies that suggest hormone decline, in both males and females, negatively influences muscle mass and strength. Ditto for the opposite – increasing certain hormones increases muscle development for both males and females. Why else would we have entire industries devoted to the development of hormones for use in competitive sports and sub-industries whose sole purpose is to find ways to circumvent the detection of those products? Yes, all else being equal, certain hormones impact muscle development more positively in higher concentrations and more negatively in lower concentrations. Does that mean however that hormones are the sole contributors to muscle development, or as the menopausal research always seems to conclude, that the state of diminishing hormone concentrations as we age and move through menopause is enough to hamper or prevent muscle development in women? No. Absolutely not.

Like so many aspects of women’s health research, the connection between declining hormones and declining muscle is spurious at best. It relies on equal parts latent (and no so latent) biases towards women and surrogate markers that may or may not equate directly with muscle and strength. The bias holds that women in general have difficulty building muscle compared to men based upon their unique hormonal makeup e.g. lower androgens and higher estrogens, a difference that is magnified with aging. This bias leads to research questions that essentially presume the answer in the framing of the question. That is, the research asks ‘why women have difficulty building muscle’ across menopause or compared to men and not ‘do women have difficulty building muscle.’ The research assumes that women have this issue, and thus, proceeds show us why. It then uses surrogate markers of this supposed muscle building difficulty, neither defining clearly what constitutes muscle development nor measuring actual muscle development in women who train to build muscle. When the associations between these surrogate markers and the hormone in question is found, usually estradiol, are found, as they so often are, causation is inferred and PR campaigns begin.

This bugs me to no end for a number of reasons, not the least of which, because it is an asinine way to conduct research, but mostly, because it is logically fallacious. We have made the assumption that women have difficulty building muscle and proceed to demonstrate why. Of course, we are going to find some reasons. We can do that with any research design that assumes the answer in the question. It would be no different than assuming all men idiots and designing research to find out why. It is offensive and it is wrong, and yet, this is the standard course of most research. What is that saying – assumptions make asses out of you and me? Well, research like this makes asses out of us all.

These are very real physical changes and conditions. Some symptoms alarm a woman that she may be suffering from a serious disease. Perhaps you know the more common ones related to menopausal symptoms in this list. But many of these may surprise you, as they have not been typically associated with this normal physiological transformation. 

  1. Change in Menstrual Cycle, Cycles may get closer together or farther apart, lighter and shorter in duration or much heavier, lasting longer than one has been accustomed to. Menses may seem to take forever to begin with dark spotting for days until you actually flow, or you might feel like you have your menses every two weeks.
  2. Menstrual Flooding can come on with sudden onset and feel like you may hemorrhage to death. Or it can be a gradual build-up just when you think your menses will end and you start gushing for days. Flooding commonly accompanies the woman with uterine fibroids as she transits into menopause.
  3. Headaches, Migraines, especially before, during or at the end of your menses debilitate and radically interferes with normal functioning.
  4. Decreased Motor Coordination, Clumsiness, almost begins to make the woman who experiences this feel like she is a bit spastic, certainly less than graceful during perhaps an already awkward period in her life. 
  5. Lethargy, a persistent feeling sluggishness physically and mentally, that seems to negate ones ability to do much. 
  6. Physical Exhaustion , and Crushing Crashing Fatigue that can come on so suddenly and grip you into feeling like you will collapse unless you stop this instant.
  7. Exacerbation of any Chronic Illness or Existing Condition transpires as hormones decline or deviate from their normal balance.
  8. Insomnia, this includes a new or unusual pattern of either difficulty falling asleep, or dropping off to sleep for a few hours and then awakening with the inability to return to sleep.
  9. Sleep Disturbances sometimes are from nightmares, night sweats, or just a vague sense of restlessness keeping you up or disrupting your precious revitalizing retreat from this realm of responsibilities.
  10. Night Sweats often begin between a woman?s breasts, initially a night or two before her menses, waking her from sleep, later more profoundly disturbing with up to total body saturation, followed by damp or sweat-drenched chills.
  11. 11. Interference With Dream Recall interrupts the sense of normal sleep, if you are someone accustomed to vivid or at least some detailed memory of your dream time. 
  12. Muscle Cramps can occur anywhere in the body from legs to back to neck, and sometimes reflects the need for more calcium, or simply that your progesterone levels are too low. 
  13. Low Backache often worsens before or during menses, but if your hormones remain at low levels, you can experience it on a regular basis.
  14. Gall Bladder Symptoms of pain, spasms and discomfort felt in the right upper abdominal quadrant under the ribs, which may be accompanied by belching, bloating, and intolerance to certain foods reflect the increased liver load with declining hormones. 
  15. Frequent Urination, or sensations that mimic urinary infections is a disturbing symptom often unrelieved by actual urination. It is often experienced as the sensation of needing to urinate all the time, even immediately afterwards.
  16. Urinary Incontinence, the uncontrollable and spontaneous loss of urine, or the Urge for Incontinence, can occur suddenly or feel continuous, and not only in response to coughing, sneezing, jumping or running. 
  17. Hypoglycemic Reactions happen when suddenly your blood sugar crashes and you must have food now.
  18. Food Cravings, often for sweets or salty foods, but can include sour or pungent foods. 
  19. Increased Appetite, especially at night and after dinner contributes to that unusual and unwanted weight gain.
  20. Dark Circles Under Eyes can also be caused by adrenal exhaustion and thyroid dysfunctions, but no amount of sleep seems to eliminate it. 
  21. Joint and Muscle Pain, Achy, Sore Joints, Muscles and Tendons, which sometimes develop into actual carpal tunnel syndrome, or give rise to the questioning of other disease possibilities.
  22. Increased Tension in Muscles demonstrates itself in those hunched up shoulders as you work or talk about anything uncomfortable, along with promoting lower back pain and a stiff neck.
  23. Increased Hair Loss or Thinning anywhere on body, including your head, armpits, pubic area.
  24. Increase in Facial Hair especially under your chin, or along your jaw line. It may be defined by generalized hair growth, or a specific and coarse single strand of hair that pokes out, even curls. 
  25. Unusual Hair Growth, around Nipples, between Breasts, down your back, places where your hair was finer, less coarse.
  26. Acne, quite disturbing to any woman who dealt with this in adolescence and never thought it would recur. 
  27. Infertility causes grief in the woman who postponed pregnancy in her earlier years and now wishes to conceive, carry to term a healthy baby, and discovers she is unable to do so. 
  28. Loss of Breast Tissue begins with a decrease in progesterone production. Women often feel as though their breast have become empty sacs devoid of their normal fullness, with or without sagging.
  29. Breast Soreness/Tenderness/Pain/ Engorgement and swelling occurs particularly a few days to one week before bleeding actually begins, which usually potentiates complete relief of any pain or swelling.
  30. Painful, or tender nipples have been described as this exquisite localized pain only in the nipples and suggest estrogen excess. 
  31. Cold Extremities feels quite strange especially in the presence of a hot flash, the combination of which is not impossible.
  32. Being Accident Prone, bumping into things, not even realizing it until the bruise reveals itself later and then lacking the ability to recall the causative incident feels perplexing and a little scary at the prospect of something more damaging. 
  33. Hot flashes initially may be described as mild to severe flushes of heat waves, and for some women these evolve into intense outbreaks of sudden heat with sweating and turning bright red all over. 
  34. Loss of Sexual Energy, our Libido, can be marked by a gradual or sudden disinterest in sex, to the development of an actual aversion. 
  35. Painful Sex often described as if one?s vagina would tear open at the point of penetration along with feelings of abrasion during intercourse.
  36. Vaginal Dryness, Irritation, sometimes accompanied by a consistent unusual discharge – typically odor free, negates a woman?s ability to be sexually active, or able to enjoy or be comfortable in her body.
  37. Dizziness, feeling lightheaded and the loss of physical balance, and even a bit wobbling at times, requires pause in movement to prevent falling over or deepening into vertigo or feeling faint.
  38. Ringing in the Ears, Tinnitus, can be experienced as a pulsing sensation, a whooshing sound, an almost musical or buzzing sound with a fuzzy sensation.
  39. Abdominal Bloating comes on suddenly often after eating, or seems to be all the time, and can be visibly evident making you feel that you look like you are pregnant. 
  40. Weight Gain disturbs most women, particularly when it seems to happen over a couple of days, settles in the waist, buttocks and thighs, promoting a visceral thickening from the waist down, the classic middle-aged figure.
  41. Fluid Retention, Edema, commonly with swelling in the legs and ankles, though not limited to this area and it is unrelieved by urination.
  42. Palpitations or Heart Racing usually comes on suddenly, without warning or provocation, and dissipates spontaneously. The experience can be so wild and intense that a woman may become alarmed and wonder if she is having a heart attack. 
  43. Irregularities in your Heart Rate may feel more like your heart has just done a flip-flop or skipped a beat.
  44. Constipation/Diarrhea, intermittent or alternating, results from declining hormone levels, which increase the demands on liver function and alters intestinal motility.
  45. Tendency towards Candidiasis can increase, even if you have no prior known history ? and if you do, it may worsen.
  46. Gastrointestinal Distress, Increased Flatulence, Unrelieved Gas pains, Indigestion, Nausea all can reflect intestinal changes due to hormonal imbalances.
  47. Slow Digestion often goes along with the bloat ? what previously took four to five hours to digest, now seems to take all night. It seems worse in the evenings.
  48. Lack of Appetite may be experienced as more of a lack of interest in food, going to the frig and standing there with the door open and staring blankly. Feeling completely uninspired, you busy yourself with something else and forget that you need to eat.
  49. Changes in Body Odor especially disturbing when it seems to focus in the groin area, but can be anywhere on the body.
  50. Puffy Eyes, not only from sleep disturbances, but also can accompany low progesterone.
  51. Facial Pallor alternating with Facial Flushes is often intermittent with hot flashes.
  52. Flare-up of Arthritis worsens with low progesterone levels and increase sugar intake.
  53. Loss of Bone Density, Osteoporosis, is not only an elderly woman?s disease, though it seems to develop over an extended period and is triggered by the decline of hormone production.
  54. Dry Hair, Change in Skin Tone, Integrity, and Texture, becomes more wrinkled, and may begin the thinning process.
  55. Changes in your Fingernails characterized by easy breakage, bending, cracking and getting softer.
  56. Itchy, Crawly Skin with a strange sensation like insects crawling around under the skin ? quite different than the dry skin feeling.
  57. Muscle tone seems to slack and sag, and lose its previous response to normal exercise.
  58. Pelvic Pain can be random and independent of cycles and may feel continuous for some women.
  59. Dry, Itchy Eyes felt in the deep posterior aspect of the eye socket, as well as superficially.
  60. Teeth Aching or the experience of a strange sensation in one?s teeth or gums, often accompanied by an increase in bleeding gums.
  61. Change in the normal Tongue sensation, which can be accompanied by a feeling of burning in your tongue and roof of mouth, malodorous breath or change in breath odor, and/or a bad taste in your mouth.
  62. Memory Loss or Lapses in time, makes one feel disoriented and less focused, especially when you go into another room to get something specific and seconds later cannot remember what you went to retrieve.
  63. Feeling Faint for no known reason (this does not include standing up too quickly)
  64. Tingling in Extremities not only feels weird and like your hands or feet are falling asleep, but if persistent can be a symptom of diabetes, B12, potassium or calcium deficiency, or a compromise in blood vessel flexibility.
  65. Sensation of Electrical Stimulation, or Shock occurring in the tissue under the skin, and may signal you that a hot flash will begin.
  66. Increase and worsening of Allergies occurs as hormones become imbalanced, so can our immune system.

White matter hyperintesities are areas of the brain where damage has occurred to the neurons. These areas are associated with peri/menopausal hot flushes because the brain is starved of energy and is cannibalising itself for energy.

White matter hyperintesities are also associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s but recent research shows that exercise can help to reduce the risks of decreasing brain function:

“…as people age, the presence of Alzheimer’s-related brain changes increases—including the buildup of amyloid, slower breakdown of glucose by brain cells, shrinking of the volume of the hippocampus (central to memory), and declines in cognitive function measured in standard recall and recognition tests.

But they found that in people who reported exercising at moderate intensity at least 150 minutes a week, as public health experts recommend, brain scans showed that these changes were significantly reduced and in some cases non-existent compared to people who were not active. “The association between age and Alzheimer’s brain changes was blunted,” says Okonkwo, “Even if [Alzheimer’s] got worse, it didn’t get worse at the same speed or rate among those who are physically active as in those who are inactive.”


‘They are not mentally ill, antidepressants are not appropriate. Once they have the label, it doesn’t help them,’ says expert.

Hot flushes and night sweats are the most well-known symptoms in peri/menopause, but the most common ones are anxiety, depression and brain fog. So many women who are looking for help get prescribed anti-depressants, despite the fact that:

“Menopause guidelines are very clear that antidepressants should not be given first-line for low mood associated with the menopause because there is no evidence that they will help.”

Editor’s note:

The reason why anti-depressants don’t help is that these medications target neurotransmitters like serotonin. But the loss of brain function that is associated with peri/menopause is not a neurotransmitter problem, it’s an energy problem.

During peri/menopause the brain becomes less and less able to use carbohydrates for energy and switches to mainly using fat for energy. This means that unless a low carb/high-fat diet is being followed, the brain will become starved of energy, leading to anxiety, depression and brain fog.

Switching to a low carb/high-fat diet can resolve brain issues in just a few weeks.

Breathing is information. The more stressed you feel, the faster you breathe, and your brain will notice this and read it as a signal that things are not going well. That fast, shallow breathing which happens when you’re stressed is effectively telling your brain that you’re running from a lion. But the reverse of this rule is also true: if you breathe slowly, you’re giving your brain a signal that you’re in a place of calm. You will start to feel less stressed. Studies have even shown that the right kind of breathing can reduce our perception of pain. Both the pace at which you breathe and how deeply you breathe change your stress response. If all you do for one minute is slow your breathing down and aim for six breaths (one breath is in and out) in that minute, it will reduce the stress state and stimulate the thrive state.

A daily practice of breathing – Breathing practice is especially worth considering if you’re the kind of person who finds meditation difficult. You don’t have to stick to the same practice each time. Play around. Listen to your body. Experiment. I’m sure that, within a few days, you’ll find a technique that works for you. Aim to do at least one of these practices every day. Even one minute per day of focused, intentional breathing can make a big difference.

Postmenopausal women can fight off hot flashes and night sweats by pumping iron, a new clinical trial shows.

“Resistance training is already recommended for all women always, but now we can see it may be effective also for hot flashes around menopause,” Dr. Emilia Berin of Linkoping University in Sweden, who led the study, told Reuters Health.

Determined to enjoy longer and healthier lives, two women researched the science to find the key. Here, they share what they discovered.

When Susan Saunders was 36, her mother was diagnosed with severe dementia. “I had a toddler, a newborn, a full-time job as a TV producer – and I became a carer as well.” As a teenager, she had watched her mum care for her own mother, who had the same condition. “I became determined to do everything I could to increase my chances of ageing well.”

Annabel Streets’ story is similar. When she was a student, her grandfather died from cancer months after he retired; later, she watched her mother care for her grandmother, who lived with dementia and crippling rheumatoid arthritis for nearly 30 years. “When I developed a chronic autoimmune disease, I knew things had to change. But by then I had four young children and there was precious little time for my own health.”

Together, Saunders and Streets started researching the latest science on how to have a healthier, happier old age and how to apply it to their own lives, and blogged about their findings for five years. Their Age Well Project has now been published as a book, compiling almost 100 shortcuts to health in mid-and later life – and Streets and Saunders, who are both in their 50s, say they have never been in better health.

What did they learn?

We tend to think that a loss of mental acuity is just part of getting older — but age is not the only contributing factor to cognitive decline. Our lifestyle also plays a key role. Failing to follow a nutritious diet, a lack of sleep and exercise, ongoing stress, smoking, drinking alcohol excessively and environmental pollutants can all damage our brain cells.

Fortunately, mental deterioration is not irreversible. In fact, the brain is incredibly dynamic and has the potential and the ability to change at any point throughout our entire life – and you have the power to enhance your brain function, protect your brain from damage and counteract the effects of aging! That is, if you’re willing to fuel the brain and tweak your everyday decisions.

Here are 5 small changes you can make in your life that can mean big differences in your cognitive abilities.

It was once thought that hearing loss in older women might be linked to loss of estrogen and progesterone following menopause and that hormone therapy might reduce that risk. Recent results from the Nurses’ Health Study II indicate just the opposite — that late natural menopause and the use of oral hormone therapy are linked to a higher risk of hearing loss.

…Further studies are needed to determine whether hormone use causes hearing loss. As of now, the results, published online May 10, 2017, by the journal Menopause, indicate that hormone therapy doesn’t help to preserve a woman’s hearing.

Hot flashes, undoubtedly the most common symptom of menopause, are not just uncomfortable and inconvenient, but numerous studies demonstrate they may increase the risk of serious health problems, including heart disease. A new study suggests that hot flashes (especially when accompanied by night sweats) also may increase the risk of developing diabetes.

As reported in “Vasomotor symptom characteristics: are they risk factors for incident diabetes?” data was analyzed from the more than 150,000 postmenopausal women who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) to confirm that the occurrence of hot flashes was associated with an elevated diabetes risk. Of the total population studied, 33% of the women had experienced hot flashes. Any incidence of hot flashes was associated with an 18% increased diabetes risk, and this risk continued to climb on the basis of the severity and duration of the hot flashes. Moreover, diabetes risk was the most pronounced for women reporting any type of night sweats but only if the onset of hot flashes occurred late in the menopause transition.

Diabetes is a serious health risk currently affecting 15% of women aged 55 years and older. Its incidence is expected to more than double by 2050. Compared with men with diabetes, women with diabetes have a higher risk of being hospitalized for or dying from diabetes and its complications, which makes the timely identification and management of diabetes through lifestyle intervention or medical management critical.

This study showed that, after adjustment for obesity and race, women with more severe night sweats, with or without hot flashes, still had a higher risk of diabetes,” says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director. “Menopause is a perfect time to encourage behaviour changes that reduce menopause symptoms, as well as the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Suggestions include getting regular exercise and adequate sleep, avoiding excess alcohol, stopping smoking, and eating a heart-healthy diet. For symptomatic women, hormone therapy started near menopause improves menopause symptoms and reduces the risk of diabetes.”

As women start to produce less estrogen and enter perimenopause, they are likely to experience a mix of challenging symptoms. These include hot flashes, insomnia, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and mood swings.

Menstrual periods may get lighter or heavier and less regular, but once a woman has not had a period for 12 months, they are in menopause. Then, the symptoms experienced over the previous years begin to subside.

There is a range of vitamins and supplements available to help women manage the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.

If you feel as though you can’t do as much physically as you’ve gotten older, there may be a reason. Both aging and menopause are known to affect sarcopenia, which is a loss of muscle mass and strength, which in turn affects balance, gait, and overall ability to perform tasks of daily living. A new study is one of the first to link alcohol consumption with a higher prevalence of sarcopenia in postmenopausal women. The study outcomes are being published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Previous studies of postmenopausal women have suggested the beneficial effect of estrogen therapy on muscle mass and function. Because of this, it is believed that postmenopausal women are more vulnerable to sarcopenia. Although alcohol is known to inhibit skeletal muscle protein synthesis, few studies have examined the relationship between sarcopenia and alcohol-drinking patterns.

…Study results published in the article “Associations between high-risk alcohol consumption and sarcopenia among postmenopausal women” show that the prevalence of sarcopenia was found to be nearly four times greater for the high-risk, alcohol-drinking group than the low-risk group. 

…With this study suggesting that more muscle loss leads to sarcopenia and other studies suggesting that even one drink of alcohol may increase the risk of breast cancer, postmenopausal women should limit their alcohol intake.”

A new study of more than 2,000 perimenopausal and menopausal women showed that moderate-severe vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes or night sweats) were an independent and significant risk factor for moderate-severe depression. Researchers explored the controversial link between hot flashes and depressive symptoms by focusing on more severe forms of both conditions and concluding that there is likely a common underlying cause, as reported in an article published in Journal of Women’s Health, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Journal of Women’s Health website until May 18, 2017.

Data presented in the article entitled “Moderate-Severe Vasomotor Symptoms Are Associated with Moderate-Severe Depressive Symptoms,” demonstrate that among a group of women ages 40-65, those with moderate-severe hot flashes were significantly more likely to have moderate-severe depression than women with no or mild vasomotor symptoms. Roisin Worsley, MBBS, Robin Bell, PhD, Pragya Gartoulla, Penelope Robinson, and Susan Davis, MBBS, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, found hot flashes, depressive symptoms, and use of antidepressant medication to be common in the age range of women included in the study. The researchers also examined whether or not moderate-severe depression was associated with a greater likelihood of psychotropic medication use, smoking, or binge drinking at least once a week.

You think the menopause signals the end? For these four women, it was only the beginning. Here they share their stories about how the menopause. was the trigger to improve their lives, careers, relationships and even sex lives…  

Hot flushes, mood swings and a diminished sex drive. The menopause s seen as a pretty miserable time for women – but new research suggests that it can actually trigger bursts of energy, creativity, and even renewed intimacy.

According to a recent survey by the Cleveland Medical Centre in Ohio, women in their 50s and 60s have more satisfying sex lives than younger women, and a report from the small-business support group Enterprise Nation revealed that more than half of new businesses started last year were set up by people over 46….

The menopause is so often regarded as a negative experience, but it can be a new chapter in which many women find themselves with a new lease of life.

The rush of energy and increased confidence that women can experience can be the perfect springboard for pursuing long-held ambitions or new dreams, whether that’s embarking on a new career, taking up a new sport or hobby, or simply taking the time to focus on feeling your best.

Here we speak to women about the greater self-assurance that comes with menopause – and what it inspired them to do.

Clare, 52, Hertfordshire

“For me, this stage in my life has signalled new beginnings and a desire to try new things. Just after I turned 50 I decided to take up a part-time gardening course at a local college. I loved it so much I then took a sabbatical from my retail job to do a year-long course full time, and was awarded horticulture student of the year for my level. As well as learning a new skill I’ve made lots of new friends and it’s really boosted my confidence. It has been a very positive experience and I’m now looking into pursuing gardening full time.”

Almost 4,000 women in the UK undergo operations each year to remove their ovaries. The procedure, which triggers the menopause, is often carried out on younger women to prevent cancer.

But now scientists from Toronto University have linked the surgery with a reduction in memory and thinking skills.

Experts fear this may eventually lead to early-onset dementia for many women, and even to Alzheimer’s.

The therapeutic benefits of omega-3 fatty acids – which are abundant in certain fish oils – have long been known. In the 1950s, upon the discovery that omega-3 improves brain development, cod liver oil was given for free to young children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers. In the 80s, scientists reported that eskimos enjoy better coronary health than their mainland counterparts as a result of their fish rich diets. And in 2009, a study published in the Menopause journal suggested that omega-3 helps reduce the frequency of hot flushes in menopausal women.

 As you can see, the hype that surround omega-3 is warranted, and not something to be shied away from.

 The Truth About Fats

Many women are concerned about fat, and wrongly believe that consuming fat will make them overweight. The truth is, however, that an extremely low-fat diet won’t regulate your weight – and it certainly won’t enhance your health. Fat can be hugely beneficial in the right form, and by consuming fatty acids such as omega-3, you will surely be more healthy.

Research has confirmed that omega-3 fatty acids may have an excellent effect on impacting degenerative diseases, such as heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and many more. As for menopause, omega-3 fatty acids contain anti-inflammatory properties shown to have a positive effect on many of the symptoms associated with “the change”.

What can omega-3 help with?

Because of its wonderful properties, omega-3 can greatly help women during menopause. It helps treat a range of menopausal symptoms, such as:

  • Hypertriglyceridemia– Postmenopausal women may have higher triglyceride concentrations than premenopausal women, exposing them to increased risk of coronary heart disease. As  omega-3 offers a triglyceride-lowering effect, many practitioners recommend menopausal women obtain a bare minimum 1g/day as provided by your diet or supplementation.
  • Joint pain/menopause arthritis– Omega-3 fats can reduce inflammation, which may help relieve joint pain and stiffness related to menopause arthritis. Omega-3s work in a similar way as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Menstrual pain – As part of your ovaries’ frustrating grand finale, perimenopausal women often experience strong menstrual pain and cramping. This pain is often caused by substances called prostaglandins, which come in both “good” and “bad” form. Menopause promotes the bad kind, while  omega-3 fatty acids promote the good kind.
  • Depression– Women are twice as likely to suffer depression compared with men, and the risk is even greater following menopause. Irritability and sadness are common emotional symptoms of menopause, but omega-3 may effectively alleviate these symptoms. Omega-3s work to improve mood and restore structural integrity to brain cells that are critical in performing cognitive functions.
  • Osteoporosis– An increased intake of omega-3 acids increases bone mineral content and produces healthier, stronger bones. As menopause can increase a woman’s risk of developing osteoporosis due to a drop in oestrogen levels, omega-3 fatty acids should be an essential part of a menopausal diet.
  • Hot flushes– The frequency of hot flushes in women going through menopause can vary from as little as once a week to every 30 minutes. Some hot flushes last minutes, while others a mere few seconds. Studies have shown that while omega-3 may not affect the intensity of hot flushes, it can halve the frequency of hot flushes with the right dosage.
  • Vaginal dryness– Fatty acids help to lubricate the body in general, therefore helping with dryness of the vagina – a common symptom of menopause.

Postmenopausal women with a more diverse population of gut bacteria may be more efficient at breaking down estrogen, a new study suggests. Because estrogen plays a role in causing breast cancer, researchers speculate a healthy bacterial population may lower the risk for cancer.

“The composition and diversity of the intestinal microbiota were associated with patterns of estrogen metabolism that are predictive of the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women,”

Estrogen is metabolized in the liver and in other tissues such as the breast, yielding fragments that are excreted in urine or, through bile, into the gut. Gut microbes can degrade these metabolites, allowing them to be reabsorbed into the bloodstream and further recycled in the liver. Dr. Fuhrman and colleagues suggest that women whose gut bacteria more efficiently process estrogen may have a lowered risk for breast cancer.

Postmenopausal vulvovaginal atrophy is associated with age-related changes in the vaginal microbiome, with a shift from Lactobacillus-dominated strains in premenopause to a predominance of anaerobic organisms, new research shows.

“We have not yet identified specific interventions, but we are interested in pursuing personalized selections of probiotics and prebiotics for a given woman,” said lead investigator Rebecca Brotman, PhD.

“We have been advocating probiotics or prebiotics to improve vaginal health for almost 30 years,” said Gregor Reid, PhD.

“I 100% support the conclusions of this work. It is nice to see confirmation of work we published in 2011, with an aberrant microbiota associated with some cases of vulvovaginal atrophy,” Dr. Reid told Medscape Medical News (PLoS One, 2011;6:e26602).

Brain imaging and gene analyses in twins reveal that white matter integrity is linked to an iron homeostasis gene.

Iron deficiency is a well-known cause of impaired cognitive, language, and motor development, but a report out today (January 9) in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that even in apparently healthy young adults, variations in iron levels correlate with variations in brain structure integrity.

“[The researchers] make a very interesting connection between the issue of iron metabolism and the integrity of white matter, more specifically myelin”—the cellular sheath that enwraps and insulates neuronal axons—said George Bartzokis of the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study.  “This would have been predicted by what is known about myelin, because it actually contains a lot of iron, so it is important that [they have] directly demonstrated this in humans with imaging.

Overweight women who experience hot flashes—the uncomfortable flushing and sweating spells that accompany menopause—may be able to cool those symptoms by losing weight, a new study suggests.

“If you’re a woman who is overweight or obese, you can substantially improve your hot flashes by losing weight through diet and exercise,” says Alison Huang, MD, the lead author of the study and a professor of internal medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

“Weight loss isn’t just something that will benefit your long-term health 10, 20, or 30 years from now,” she adds. “It can make a real difference in your symptoms and quality of life right now.”

Previous research has shown that women with higher body-mass indexes (BMI) tend to experience worse hot flashes. Until now, however, few studies have tried to measure the immediate effect that weight loss has on symptoms.

Psychologists are helping women sidestep the stereotypes associated with menopause and transform this developmental passage into a vital new phase of life.

… In a 2008 qualitative study in the Women’s Studies International Forum (Vol. 31, No. 4), for instance, 21 midlife Australian women reported greater confidence and wisdom, more time for themselves, and greater self-awareness and self-worth, despite some sadness about ageing. Likewise, a 2008 article in Maturitas (Vol. 39, No. 1) by University of Copenhagen physician Lott Hvas, MD, found that about half of the 393 women who answered an open-ended questionnaire about menopause described positive aspects of the experience, including a time of well-being following menopause and relief at no longer having to deal with menstruation. They also recognized the possibility of personal growth and greater freedom to concentrate on their own lives.

…. “Clarity, decisiveness, emotional intelligence, the ability to discern the truthfulness of others — all of that tends to ramp up in your fifties,” says Gearing, who sees many female executives of this age in her practice.

More forgetful? Not thinking as clearly? Simple arithmetic coming more slowly? Worried that mental functions are worsening? Are the processes of ageing catching up? There is much that can be done to prevent worsening mental functioning and memory loss. For some, memory loss heralds the onset of dementia. Regardless of a person’s occupation or social environment, loss of memory is the most feared consequence of ageing…

…Specific nutritional interventions and nutritional supplements can help to detox and protect individual cells of the brain and nervous system.

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Connecting women, science and spirit, the Gynelogic Sunday Supplement delivers a bi-monthly dose of  news, views and reviews, as seen through my lady lens.