The psychological effects of menopause

Going through menopause can be an extremely difficult time due to the possible symptoms that many women experience. If you are experiencing severe symptoms then you can also run the risk of having some psychological effects as well. Here at the Australian Menopause Centre we know how much stress going through these life changes can be, and the best way to combat any psychological effects is through a support network.

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menopause psychological effects

Medical and family support during menopause

Family and friends may already be aware you are experiencing menopause but if they do not then it’s a good idea to tell them. While a doctor or other medical professional can give you advice and other support, it’s your friends and especially your family, that will really help you through. Don’t be afraid to tell your loved ones if you are feeling depressed, experiencing mood swings or having other psychological problems.

The fact is, menopause is a naturally occurring part of life and with it can come some very unpleasant symptoms. If you are isolating yourself from your friends and family because of your symptoms then it’s probably time to consider a new approach. It can be especially useful to ask friends in your peer group if they have or are experiencing menopause – another option is to look for a support group to help you out.

Common psychological effects of menopause

Everyone who has or is experiencing menopause understands how turbulent your emotions and well being can become. This is due to chemical changes in the body – primarily the decreasing production of oestrogen in the ovaries.  In some cases this can lead to cases of depression or at least similar symptoms to depression such as:

  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Lack of energy
  • Problems coping with everyday life
  • More sleep than usual
  • Mood swings and even uncontrollable crying

If you do experience these types of symptoms it does not mean you are definitely suffering from depression. Many of these symptoms may merely be related to menopause and not a separate problem. If you do have concerns make sure you consult with your doctor or other medical professional. Don’t just ignore your symptoms – especially if they are having a negative impact on your life.

Life after menopause

Remember, menopause isn’t going to last forever  and is usually over in a number of years. While it will mean big changes to your body, mentality and lifestyle it should also be seen as a new stage in your life. So make sure you take care of both your physical and mental health during menopause.

How to Keep Your Diet Healthy Through Menopause

Because of the vast amount of changes your body can go through during menopause it is essential that you watch your diet. Eating the right types of food and removing bad foods from your diet can be extremely beneficial for both your health and well being during these changes. So while you won’t be able to completely avoid the symptoms of menopause you can help yourself adjust by making sure you are eating what is best for your body during middle age.

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The right nutrients for your body during menopause

  • Calcium – you can find calcium in dairy products but also in certain types of calcium rich food. It is recommended to have at least two to four servings of dairy and/or calcium rich food per day. Try leafy green vegetables, seafood, legumes and fruit to boost the calcium in your diet during menopause.
  • Iron – it is always important to have enough iron in your diet but this only becomes increasingly important during menopause. This means around three or more servings a day of food that is high in iron: red meat, chicken and other poultry, leafy green vegetables as well as other food products that have been enriched with iron.
  • Fibre – keeping regular with fibre is important during menopause so try to eat whole grain breads, fresh fruit and vegetables as well as rice and pasta.

Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables?

menopause centre - diet

As you can see from the above nutrients your most important diet requirement is fruits and vegetables. If you make sure you are eating plenty of these then you are more likely to be getting enough of your essential nutrients. To keep it simple try to eat at a minimum:

  • One and a half cups of fruit per day
  • Two cups of vegetables per day

This will ensure your diet during menopause is making your life easier and not affecting your health in a negative way. Also be sure to drink plenty of fluids – water is always the best for your body. Avoid sugar and saturated fats in your diet as well because this will certainly have a negative impact on your health. Staying within a healthy weight range is not only helpful during menopause but it will also reduce your risk of other ailments. If you are not sure where to start when changing your diet consider getting in touch with the Menopause Centre Australia about your healthy eating options during menopause.

By Dr. Gary Aaron from Australian Menopause Centre

 

How Do You Cope With Mood Swings During Menopause?


Menopause is synonymous with mood swings because of the major hormonal changes during this time. As the female body ceases to ovulate it will also start to slow down production of oestrogen and – at the same time – serotonin levels. This reduction in serotonin levels can mean it is much harder to stay in a happy mindset and mood swings are caused by the often erratic levels of these hormones.

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hearing during menopause

Spotting the signs of menopause

If you think your mood swings are caused by menopause or the onset of menopause then you should look out for other symptoms.

  • Hot flushes
  • Trouble sleeping including night sweats
  • Low libido
  • Irregular periods
  • Fatigue
  • Memory loss

If you experience some or all of these menopause symptoms or are unsure then you need to consult a medical professional as they can always confirm your suspicions.

Educating yourself and your family

A great place to start when coping with mood swings during menopause is to simply let your family and partner know what you are going through. It is important for them to understand and be able to help you out in any way that you need. While it can be difficult to talk about, it will make it easier and avoid confusion about why you may be acting differently.

Diet and exercise

Anything that can negatively affect your mood certainly isn’t going to help any menopause related mood swings. Make sure that you are adjusting your diet to avoid foods that can give you a quick high and then let you come crashing down. Lower or eliminate your intake of caffeine as well as refined sugar. Instead, replace them with healthier and more relaxing alternatives such as green tea.

Physical activity is another great way to improve your mood and help increase your seratonin levels. Consider scheduling a short walk or other activity if you are having a mood swing or simply go outdoors or somewhere else you enjoy. The more you keep your body active and healthy during menopause the easier it will be to deal with mood swings and other negative menopause symptoms.

Medical assistance during menopause

Don’t be afraid to consult with your doctor or other medical professional about mood swings. If you feel that you are suffering depression or your mood swings are really severe then you might need some assistance. This can be in the form of medication but each case will be different and you may simply need some advice from your doctor.

Does Menopause Actually Trigger Weight Gain?

Menopause and weight gain are often associated with each other but the real reasons why you gain weight after menopause are more complex. While it is true that the reduction on oestrogen production due to menopause can contribute to weight gain, other factors such as the aging process as well as lifestyle play their part. This is why it is so important to look after your health in terms of diet and exercise as you get older and especially around the onset of menopause.

Source: Raacupuncture.org

The impact of oestrogen

Oestrogen is thought to influence the distribution of fat around the body. So even though weight gain may not be an issue, unwanted fat around the stomach area certainly can. The loss of oestrogen is thought to lead to an increase in weight gain however, other factors such as a slowing metabolism can occur at the same time.

Signs of aging

At around the same time as menopause begins a woman’s body will begin to show other signs of natural aging at a more rapid rate. This can mean loss of muscle (leading to increase fat but not necessarily weight) as well as the slowing down of the body’s natural metabolism. When you combine these body changes with possible hair loss and changes to the skin you can see how self esteem can be adversely affected by menopause.

Lifestyle factors

It is essential to take a close look at lifestyle factors when menopause is approaching in order to maintain as healthy as lifestyle as possible as you age. Here are the two key areas to focus on:

Diet: if your metabolism has slowed and menopause is causing increased weight gain then any excess food you are eating will be much harder to ‘burn off’. It is much better to change what you are eating in terms of healthy versus unhealthy food rather than cut back on eating in general. Your body will need more essential vitamins and minerals provided by a good diet more and more as you age.
Exercise: never underestimate the change that a little activity can bring to your life. Make it a point of combining a new healthy diet with a new active lifestyle if you think you are not doing this already.

While you won’t be able to stop the aging process make sure you are speaking with professionals about healthy lifestyle options before and after menopause.

Managing Menopause: How to Find the Right Gynaecologist in 3 Steps

menopause centreMenopause signals the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle. But while this happens to all women as they approach their golden years, no two women will ever experience menopause in the exact same way.

This stage in life typically comes with a number of symptoms, including hot flushes or flashes, mood changes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, weight gain, slowed metabolism, sleep problems, dry skin, and thinning hair.

These symptoms can understandably create disturbances in a woman’s normal routine and may leave her feeling like she is in poor health. As early as perimenopause, or the period when a woman’s body begins to transition into menopause, finding a gynaecologist would be an excellent way to address the onset of the symptoms. Your doctor will be able to talk to you about preventive health care and other medical concerns you may have at this stage.

So where do you begin your search for the right gynaecologist to help you? Here are some important steps you can follow.

1. Talk to your current doctor.

Throughout most of your adult life, you are likely to have your own trusted gynaecologist to provide treatments and guidance with your reproductive health issues. It would be a good idea, however, to ask this doctor if he or she can continue providing suitable care for menopause issues, or if they can recommend another doctor who specialises in menopause healthcare.

 Alternatively, there are other ways to find menopause specialists you can consider consulting on a regular basis. Check with national associations that focus on menopausal medicine, visit OB/GYN departments of trusted hospitals, or even speak to your family and friends about possible recommendations they can make.

2. Do your research on good candidates.

If you have some names already lined up, you can begin looking for information about them. The Internet can be a big help; you can check healthcare facility websites or even social media networks for details, or confirm that these doctors are indeed licensed.

3. Set up an initial meeting.

Arrange an appointment with the gynaecologists you are considering so that you can take a look into the medical specialists’ expertise on menopause, ability to communicate, manner with patients, and overall capacity to cater to your specific needs.

 Have some important questions ready for this interview. Ask about their facility’s policies for setting appointments, accommodating calls both within and after hours, and how many patients they see every day; their process for determining a patient’s individual needs and the possible treatment methods to explore; their reception of a patient’s opinions or philosophies regarding treatment options, and their stand on using specific therapies, such as bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, and alternative options.

The gynaecologists’ answers to these questions — as well as their demeanour and body language while delivering their answers — can offer important insight on what they feel about different aspects of menopausal medicine. And these will help point you in the direction of a specialist you can trust to deliver the level of care and expertise that you need and want as you go through menopause. With this medical professional by your side, you can look forward to healthier, happier years.

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How Couples Can Help Each Other Better Cope with Menopause

menopause centreAs women undergo menopause, they will experience a variety of changes in various facets of their selves. These issues may be further compounded by the events typically associated with mid-life, like children leaving the home and getting married.

Due to the decrease in hormonal levels, a woman may feel vulnerable to a host of negative emotions, including feeling old and unattractive.

Men, on the other hand, feel confused about what they should do to help their spouses cope better with the changes brought about by menopause. In order to better manage these changes, both partners need to talk and listen to one another.

The Communicative Wife

Women, for their part, need to open up to their husbands about their feelings regarding the changes going on in their bodies. Enlisting the support of your spouse can help you better cope with issues like mood swings, hot flashes or even the loss of fertility.

Women also have to make their husbands understand that the ebb and flow of hormones can have a profound impact on their moods. It is not uncommon for these hormonal changes to lead to spats and hurtful words. At this point, women should make their husbands understand that these changes have nothing to do with their significant others, but with the hormones.

Sex during menopause can also be frustrating for most men. As such, it is imperative for couples to talk about the physiological changes women are subjected to, especially “down there.” Through openness, the use of lubricants and hormone therapy, couples can revive their lives in the bedroom.

The Supportive Husband

As a supportive husband, you can do plenty of things to support your spouse on this journey she is undertaking. First, life can be a bit more bearable by being more understanding. Due to the ebb and flow of hormones in a woman’s body, she may undergo mood swings. This can be compounded by the lack of quality sleep due to hot flashes. As such, you should not take things personally.

Physical intimacy can also take a sudden drop during the initial stages of menopause. As an understanding partner, it is crucial for you to understand that the sudden drop in estrogen level can make a woman’s private parts more sensitive, thus making sex difficult.

The drop in testosterone level in women can also diminish their libido. Here, it is crucial for husbands to understand that their partners are not just willfully withholding on physical intimacy.

Women can also feel inadequate, old and ugly upon the start of menopause. As a supportive partner, you’d want to boost your woman’s self-image by constantly complimenting her and even taking her out on regular dates to make her feel special.

by Dr. Gary Aaron

Dr. Gary Aaron: How to get great results from your treatment.

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At the Australian Menopause Centre we offer a range of treatments for women with hormonal imbalances. Dr. Gary Aaron individually tailors the program for each patient. At the Australian Menopause Centre we use bio-identical plant based hormone replacement therapy. Dr. Gary Aaron prefers to use bio-identical hormones because their molecular structure is exactly the same as the hormones produced in the body. Dr. Gary Aaron believes that the bio-identical hormones reduce side effects and does not interfere with the progress of menopause.

When a woman joins the treatment at the Australian Menopause Centre, the most common question that gets asked is, what do I need to do to get the best results on the hormones? How can I improve my treatment or my outcome?

Joining the Australian Menopause Centre is already a step in the right direction. Then it is just matter of following a few basic principles:

– At Dr. Gary Aaron’s initial consult he advises patients to define their goals. This helps put in perspective the expectations of the patient. If a patient’s expectations are unrealistic, Dr. Gary Aaron will help clarify for them what is an achievable goal. We at the Australian Menopause Centre are confident that once a patient has accepted realistic and achievable goals, their adherence to treatment improves.

– Dr. Gary Aaron is a strong believer of communication. He always ensures that patients are followed up but also expects that if there any concerns they will get in touch with the Australian Menopause Centre. Informing the Australian Menopause Centre about their progress on the treatment ensures that the patient is always getting treatment that is appropriate for them. Communication is key.

– Another important cornerstone of treatment at the Australian Menopause Centre is compliance. Dr. Gary Aaron believes that patients should ensure compliance with the instructions given to them during consults because it helps maintain the bio-identical hormones at an optimum level in the body. Dr. Gary Aaron feels taking medication regularly in a timely manner helps improve the treatment outcomes.

– At the Australian Menopause Centre we have a wealth of information about treatment, hormones and the changes that are occurring in a woman’s body during this stage of life. Dr. Gary Aaron encourages patients to access this information so that they are more aware of what is happening and how they can achieve their goals.

– At the Australian Menopause Centre we always advise women on treatment to be patient. It has taken a number of years for a woman to reach this stage and so it will take a few weeks for symptoms to settle. At the Australian Menopause Centre, our goal is to ensure a woman goes through this stage in her life as symptom free as possible.

Dr. Gary Aaron: Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and Menopause

image001 DHEA is a steroid hormone produce from the adrenal glands.  Natural DHEA production is at its peak in a woman’s twenties and then reduces steadily with age.  Men generally have more DHEA at all ages as compared to women. Dr. Gary Aaron believes DHEA to be a very powerful precursor to major sex hormones like oestrogen and testosterone.  At the Australian Menopause Centre DHEA is sometimes referred to as the mother hormone.  At the Australian Menopause Centre women with low DHEA levels can present with symptoms like: Fatigue, decrease in muscle mass and bone density, low moods, low libido and lowered immunity.

At the Australian Menopause Centre, most of the women that Dr. Gary Aaron sees complain of some form of adrenal fatigue syndrome.  Dr. Gary Aaron believes that DHEA can be an important factor in this particular treatment.  At the Australian Menopause Centre we recommend comprehensive medical testing to identify low DHEA levels before treatment is considered.   Dr. Gary Aaron has the best success with DHEA treatment, when used in combination with hormonal and nutritional support, lifestyle changes and adequate amounts of sleep.   At the Australian Menopause Centre we assess each woman on a case by case basis to identify their individual needs.

Dr. Gary Aaron also uses DHEA to help women who present with low moods at the Australian Menopause Centre.  Dr. Gary Aaron has researched several studies that have shown an association with low DHEA levels and reduced sexuality and sense of well-being, including feelings of depression and anxiety.  At the Australian Menopause Centre, Dr. Gary Aaron usually prescribes DHEA in a capsule form for the most effective results.  With regular testing Dr. Gary Aaron is able to achieve significant changes in DHEA levels.  Although in saying this, Dr. Gary Aaron does not just go by the numbers.  At the Australian Menopause Centre, Dr. Gary Aaron will look at how a woman is feeling, what demands her lifestyle places on her and her emotional state.  Sometimes the DHEA levels may be within the normal ranges, but the patient may still require some adrenal support.

In conclusion, based on the enormous body of research available for DHEA Dr. Gary Aaron is quite confident in prescribing it for women that present with adrenal fatigue.  All women on DHEA treatment at the Australian Menopause Centre are informed to watch out for loss of hair on the head, deepening of the voice, growth of hair on the face, weight gain around the waist, or acne.  With regular monitoring of patients at the Australian Menopause Centre we are able to minimise the onset of side effects.

Menopause and its impact on vaginal health

menopause centre gary aaronAt the Australian Menopause Centre a number of patients complain of vaginal dryness, itching, burning, inadequate lubrication during sexual activity and painful intercourse.  Dr. Gary Aaron has been treating these symptoms for a number of years.  Dr. Gary Aaron recommends local estriol applications to help these women.  The application most preferred by patients is vaginal pessaries, but the Australian Menopause Centre can also provide vaginal creams.  Dr. Gary Aaron has found that vaginal dryness and atrophy can affect a woman’s quality of life in various ways.

Dr. Gary Aaron has found a lot of women with vaginal dryness complain of sexual dysfunction.  Studies have shown that up to 39% of post menopausal women have difficulty with vaginal lubrication during sex.  At the Australian Menopause Centre we have found that women who have vaginal atrophy also experience painful intercourse (dyspareunia).  The dryness and atrophy can increase the likelihood of trauma during sexual activity.  This in turn can reduce a women’s subjective sexual response or desire to have intercourse.  At the Australian Menopause Centre these patients commonly present with symptoms of low libido and friction with their partner.  After detailed history taking by Dr. Gary Aaron, vaginal dryness is usually identified as the cause.

Dr. Gary Aaron has come across a number of studies that associate vaginal atrophy with urinary urgency and incontinence.   Dr. Gary Aaron has read that the peri-urethral collagen is reduced, which may result in prolapse of the urethra, thus leading to stress incontinence and urgency.  At the Australian Menopause Centre patients with oestrogen deficiency also present with an increase in urinary tract infections.  Dr. Gary Aaron feels the lack of oestrogen reduces the release of glycogen in the vagina.  As a result the vaginal flora produces less lactic acid.  The pH of the vagina increases thus increasing colonization by bacteria that cause inflammation and infection.  Dr. Gary Aaron finds that a course of antibiotics and oestrogen replacement therapy usually solves the issue.

In conclusion, Dr. Gary Aaron feels the urogenital system is quite sensitive to oestrogen deficiency, especially because of the presence of oestrogen receptors in the vagina, vulva, urethra and bladder.  The reduced oestrogen in a menopausal women can result is significant cellular and structural changes in the vagina that can promote sexual and urinary symptoms.  This can be quite traumatic for a woman, affecting her quality of life.  At the Australian Menopause Centre, Dr. Gary Aaron strongly promotes the use of local acting estriol for vaginal symptoms because these symptoms are often progressive and does not resolve without treatment.

Dr Gary Aaron: Menopause and Vitamin D

menopause centre australia websiteVitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin responsible for enhancing intestinal absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate and zinc. The most important compounds in this group are vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol). Vitamin D3 and D2 can be ingested from the diet and from supplements, but Dr Gary Aaron feels that this does not provide us with the adequate levels in our blood. Our bodies can also synthesise vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) in the skin, from cholesterol, when sun exposure is adequate.

The results of the WHI study showed that there was no link between menopause symptoms and vitamin D. But Dr Gary Aaron still feels that vitamin D supplementation is important during menopause. At the Australian Menopause Centre through regular blood tests, Dr Gary Aaron has found a majority of menopausal patients are deficient in vitamin D. Dr Gary Aaron has come across studies that indicate low blood levels of vitamin D can be associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in older adults and cancer.

At the Australian Menopause Centre, Dr Gary Aaron prescribes a weekly dose of vitamin D and timely monitoring to ensure levels in the bloods are increasing. The most common symptom of menopause is hot flushes. Dr Gary Aaron has researched that vitamin D can protect against depletion of serotonin, which plays an important role in regulating body temperature. Dr Gary Aaron believes that oestrogen plays a role in activating the vitamin D. This means that the oestrogen deficiency that occurs during menopause could worsen any problems with vitamin D deficiency. Therefore at the Australian Menopause Centre we feel that vitamin D and oestrogen have an interdependent relationship.

A number of patients at the Australian Menopause Centre also complain of bone and joint pains. Dr Gary Aaron feels that this is an important symptom. Along with a hormonal imbalance, it commonly indicates a vitamin D deficiency. At the Australian Menopause Centre we believe vitamin D is essential for strong bones because it helps the body use calcium from the diet. A vitamin D deficiency has been associated with rickets. This is a disease in which the bone tissue doesn’t properly mineralize, leading to soft bones and skeletal deformities. At the Australian Menopause Centre, Dr Gary Aaron recommends bio-identical hormone replacement therapy along with the vitamin D supplementation because bone health is also improved by oestrogen and progesterone.

At the Australian Menopause Centre, Dr Gary Aaron has found that there is research to suggest that vitamin D could play a role in the prevention and treatment of a number of different conditions, including type1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis.

The Australian Menopause Centre considers the study important, but it does not entirely prove that vitamin D and menopause symptoms are not connected. Dr Gary Aaron agrees with this as the sample used was very small and the women’s average age was 66. This sample seemed more post menopausal, as only a small percentage of women were experiencing hot flushes or night sweats. Dr Gary Aaron and the Australian Menopause Centre feel there is more scope for research, like looking at vitamin D levels in women that are menopausal and experiencing hot flushes. In conclusion, Dr Gary Aaron feels the results from the study are useful because it gives us a realistic expectation about vitamin D and its benefits.