Subscribe for 17¢ / day

Dr. Thomas C. Olson

Sooner or later, every woman goes through “the change”. Menopause can have a domino effect on every part of a woman’s life, including her emotions, family, sexuality and career. Menopausal women, many of whom spent their entire lives caring for others, must now focus on their own health needs.

Menopause usually occurs in women between the ages of 48 and 52, and is a gradual process in which a woman’s menstrual period becomes irregular and eventually ends. It officially begins after a woman has experienced no menstrual periods for one full year. However, the emotional and physical changes that accompany menopause make it much more than cyclic irregularities.

moreinfo Research Study:

Postmenopausal women are needed to participate in a free six-week clinical research study to develop a drug for Hormone Replacement Therapy.

Participants must:

Be between 40 –75 years old

Have more than five moderate to severe hot flashes daily

Have not had breast cancer or a history of heart disease or stroke

Not currently taking any female hormones

For more information call (406) 247-6489 or 1-800-996-2663

“Classic” to Benefit Research:

The 2001 Classic will benefit research in our community to expand opportunities for patients to participate in the latest prevention and treatment options for disease.

Classic Events Include:

Women’s Golf at Briarwood, Thursday, Aug. 16.

Sporting Clays, Sunday, Aug. 19.

Open Golf at Briarwood, Friday, Aug. 24.

Street Party and Three Dog Night concert, Saturday, Aug. 25.

For more information on all events call (406) 657-4670.

Hormonal changes sometimes cause a large number of physical and emotional symptoms in menopausal women. Low estrogen levels can cause blood to rush to the skin and body temperature to rise, resulting in a hot flash or night sweat. Weight gain, urinary incontinence, personal dryness and constipation may also occur.

While all of these changes may seem overwhelming, there are some things you can do to understand and deal with menopause:

Q: How can I prevent hot flashes?

A: Steer clear of such as caffeine, alcohol, candy and spicy foods, which have been known to help cause hot flashes. Soy and flax foods, which contain natural plant estrogens, also help reduce hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause, as does Vitamin E.

Q: How can I prevent weight gain during menopause?

A: Exercise regularly. As women get older, they become less active. This reduces metabolism and causes weight gain. Simply taking a walk each day should do the trick. Reducing fat intake will also help.

Q: How does menopause affect bladder control?

A: Low estrogen levels can weaken bladder control muscles, which sometimes leads to incontinence. Stress incontinence is common in menopausal women, occurring when pressures such as coughing or standing push urine through the weak muscles.

Q: How can I prevent future health problems such as osteoporosis and heart disease that are associated with menopause?

A: Eating a fiber-rich diet and regular exercise will help prevent heart disease. Vitamin B folate also helps reduce the risk. To prevent osteoporosis, be sure to get at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) also reduces the risk of osteoporosis and may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Q: How effective is hormone replacement therapy?

A: Low doses of estrogen and progesterone are known to improve menopausal and postmenopausal symptoms. They also improve long-term memory and may decrease the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Q: Is HRT safe?

A: Hormone replacement therapy has been the subject of controversy because of its association with various cancers. Currently, conclusive evidence does not suggest breast cancer is more common in women taking HRT. It is also procedure to include the hormone progesterone in HRT, which helps prevent uterine cancer. However, the risks vary dramatically from person to person, and it is best to discuss this option with your doctor.

Dr. Thomas C. Olson works in the Obstetrics/Gynocology department in Deaconess Billings Clinic. He has been on staff since 1977.