The Best is Yet to Come

On October 18, women all over the world have a day that is dedicated to furthering their knowledge about menopause, a time when women have a full third of their lives ahead of them. World Menopause Day was created with a vision of educating women about the options available to them to make the most of this important time, but also as a way to reach out to women to educate themselves, as much as possible about their condition. Deepening our knowledge about menopause should help to relieve our fears of the unknown and of the aging process.

The internet is a wonderful tool for self-education, but don't neglect to view your gynecologist as the best tool you have in your quest for information about menopause.

An Important Discussion

Your doctor has known you for a while and is in the best position possible to tell you about what lifestyle changes you can make to help the coming years be as productive and fulfilling as possible. Knowing you as well as he does, your gynecologist can help you make changes in the way you eat, make an exercise plan, and advise you on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). He can also advise you on any specific, personal health risks of which you should be aware. This just may be the most important discussion of your life.

The Challenge

And that, in a nutshell, is the World Menopause Day challenge, which calls on every woman aged 45 and older to make an appointment to speak to her doctor about her personal health history, risk for diseases, the pros and cons of HRT, and any proactive steps she might take to get the reins of health back in her hands.

Menopause is the result of the reduced production of ovarian hormones that are associated with the cessation of the menstrual period along with symptoms like hot flashes, sleeplessness, and vaginal dryness. With time, osteoporosis may be an associated condition that pops up, as well as vaginal discomfort.

The best known remedy for the symptoms of menopause is HRT, yet this type of therapy remains controversial in the main stream due to lack of information on the subject. Here are some facts about HRT:

HRT can lower your risk of coronary heart disease provided you start the therapy before the age of 60.

The risk of breast cancer as an adverse effect of HRT is very slight. A study done by the Women's Health Initiative showed that the risk of breast cancer in women receiving HRT for 5-7 years is:

*Lowered by 7 cases in every 10,000 women without a uterus and who are using estrogen-only HRT.

*Not increased in those using estrogen/progestogen-combination HRT for under 5 years.

*Increased by 8 in every 10,000 women per year in those using the estrogen/progestogen-combination HRT for 5 years or longer. This represents a figure of less than 0.1% per year.

HRT remains the best possible way to relieve menopause symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. HRT also helps to prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.

HRT carries with it a slight risk for thrombosis and gallbladder disease.

No comparable effect has been seen in complementary or alternative therapies.

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