Pear To Apple Body Shape – Part 6 – How To Lose Stomach Fat

Apple Body Shape

I'm eating well and exercising .... but I cant shift the stomach fat

OK….so maybe your body didnt exactly look like J lo’s prior to menopause, but looking back on it now …..I would bet that you would gladly have your pear shaped body back now.

Most women experience a change of body shape during menopause. Women are generally pear shaped up until menopause. During menopause, your hormones start to fluctuate and change. Basically, estrogen decreases by around 35% and progesterone decreases by around 75%. Both hormones decrease, but the balance changes. This condition is known as estrogen dominance. The change in ratio between these two hormones, disturbs the balance between them and thyroid, insulin, and cortisol, which are hormones that regulate major functions in your body. As a result, these hormones function less than optimally. This disturbance has been responsible for the change from a pear to an apple body shape.

The less than optimum functioning of thyroid, insulin and cortisol, causes your body to produce and store fat. Estrogen determines where that fat is stored. Prior to menopause, it causes fat to be stored on your thighs, buttocks and hips. After menopause, it causes fat to be stored in and around your mid-section….giving you an apple body shape look.

As the change in your body shape is caused by hormone imbalance, the first step to take to halt the storage of fat around your waist is to get your hormones tested. Hormone tests reveal the treatments that will re-balance your hormones. While you are taking these treatments, you can expedite the re-balancing of your hormones by adjusting your diet, according to the hormone deficiencies revealed by your tests.

If you do not re-balance your hormones, neither diet nor exercise can help you to lose your apple body shape.

Dietary advice for estrogen dominance

The general dietary advice to help you to lose your apple body shape that is triggered by estrogen dominance is

  1. stay away from processed foods
  2. try to eat organic food as much as possible
  3. eat lean meat and poultry
  4. eat fish a couple of times a week
  5. eat lots of fruit and vegetables
  6. eat whole grain breads, cereals and pasta products

The specific advice is that there are foods that help to help remove excess estrogen from your body and thereby fight hormone imbalance. These include

  • Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts all contain a chemical called DIM, a compound that naturally binds to estrogen and removes it from the body
  • Citrus fruits – they contain flavonoids that help regulate hormones

Specific dietary advice for under-performing thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism)

Thyroid requires 2 crucial minerals to carry out everyday functions….iodine and selenium. Some iodine rich foods for hypothyroidism include iodized salt, seaweeds and seafoods, salt water fish, sushi, nori rolls, and Celtic sea salt. Some selenium rich foods for hypothyroidism include meat, chicken, salmon, tuna, whole unrefined grains, Brazil nuts, dairy products, garlic, and onions.

Specific dietary advice for insulin imbalance (insulin resistance)

  1. Stay away from processed foods (refined carbohydrates) and sugary foods. They cause your blood sugar levels to surge, which triggers insulin secretion
  2. Eat foods that take time to digest. They allow for a more gradual, gentler rise in insulin levels. These foods include foods with higher fiber content such as whole grain breads and brown rice, non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, green beans, asparagus, carrots, and greens, fibrous fruit like berries, apples, pears and citrus fruit, and lean protein like fish, skinless chicken and turkey, and lean meat

Specific dietary advice for high cortisol

High cortisol levels are caused by stress. You can reduce your level of stress by regularly doing a stress reduction technique like yoga, meditation etc.

However, the cells of your body can experience stress as a result of the way you eat. If you do not eat often enough, your blood sugar levels will fall. When this happens, your body secretes cortisol. To prevent this from happening, eat something every 2-3 hours. Have a small to moderate sized breakfast, lunch and supper. In between each meal have a healthy snack like a piece of fruit or nuts.

Certain foods have been found to lower cortisol levels …. foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin c. Some foods rich in Omega 3 are salmon, halibut, almonds and walnuts. Some foods rich in vitamin c include citrus fruits and dark green leafy vegetables.

To lose stomach fat and your apple body shape, it is essential that you also do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day, while making the necessary dietary adjustments.


Pear To Apple Body Body Shape – Part 5 – Hormone Tests

Apple Body Shape

I've tried diet and exercise....but it is not shifting my stomach fat

I dont know about you….but I do not like to be told that there is nothing I can do about an unwanted condition. When I am told that by an “expert”
  • I refuse to believe it
  • it is my view that the “expert” does not have a solution for my unwanted condition
  • I will leave no stone unturned in my search for an expert who may have a solution for my unwanted condition

If your body shape has changed from pear to apple during menopause, there is something you can do about it.

The change from pear to apple body shape during menopause, is caused by a change in the balance of your hormones. The two main hormones that bring about all menopause symptoms, including weight gain around your waist, are estrogen and progesterone.

Prior to perimenopause, estrogen and progesterone work in harmony by co-existing with one another in a certain ratio. This keeps your reproductive system healthy and functioning. During perimenopause, the ratio of estrogen to progesterone increases. While estrogen levels fall from their premenopausal levels during perimenopause, progesterone levels fall further. In terms of the ratio between them, there is greater percentage of estrogen in your body, relative to progesterone. This then disturbs the ratio between them and other major hormones – in particular insulin, thyroid, and cortisol. The disturbance of the ratios between these hormones is the reason your body shape has changed from pear to apple.

Doesnt it make sense to you that if hormonal imbalance has brought about your apple body shape during menopause ….. that if you were to re-balance these hormones it could re-adjust your body shape?

The primary hormonal changes, in terms of importance and sequence, were those of estrogen and progesterone. This brought about the condition known as estrogen dominance. The concept of estrogen dominance was expounded by Dr. John Lee, a Harvard educated medical doctor. This concept found that menopause symptoms are caused by too much estrogen, relative to progesterone. The solution is to reduce the amount of estrogen or increase the amount of progesterone.

This solution is in opposition to the thinking of conventional medicine, which preaches that menopause symptoms are caused by insufficient levels of estrogen. The favored treatment advocated by conventional medicine is HRT, which increases the levels of estrogen in a woman’s body – to replace the estrogen lost during menopause. Increasing numbers of gynecologists have embraced the concept of estrogen dominance and are treating their patients accordingly …. Dr Christianne Northrup is probably the most well known one.

Estrogen dominance has affected your thyroid gland. It causes your thyroid hormone to function less efficiently. It also has affected the levels of insulin and cortisol in your body. These changes have increased the amount of fat stored on your body, which has contributed to your apple body shape since menopause.

Apart from the part it plays in estrogen dominance, estrogen has contributed to your apple body shape during menopause in several ways. It has many functions in your body. One of those functions is helping your body to manage fat. Prior to the onset of menopause, it helped your body to breakdown fat and dispose of it. The fat your body required, was deposited below the waist…..resulting in a pear body shape. As estrogen levels fall during menopause, less breakdown of fat and less disposition of fat occurs and the fat that used to be deposited below your waist is now deposited around your waist.

Before you can reverse the apple body shape you acquired during menopause, you need to know the levels of each of the hormones I have discussed in this post. I recommend that you begin with a free online hormone assessment. One is available here.
After you answer the questions, go to Woman’s Answers for an evaluation of your answers. It recommends specific hormone tests to take according to your answers. Another free hormone assessment is available here. After completing the assessment, you will get instant access to your hormone profile and recommendations for hormone tests to do.

You can do the hormone tests with either of the above sites. Alternatively you can ask your doctor to arrange for the tests. Here is a directory of labs that do hormone tests in the US. It is important to have the test results interpreted by a hormone expert.

Once your test results have been interpreted, you can remedy the hormonal imbalances that have caused your body shape to change from pear to apple.


Pear To Apple Body Shape – Part 4 – Cortisol


My belly just keeps growing

Ever been in this situation…..feeling stressed by everything and everyone…..then eating food like it will disappear from planet earth tomorrow…..then feeling and looking fat and bloated…..then feeling stressed about feeling and looking fat and bloated?

Maybe this is an extreme scenario that applies to a minority of menopausal women, but the relationship between stress and eating is something that we all experience to some degree.

What does this have to do with your body shape changing from pear to apple, during menopause?

I do not have to tell you that menopause is a stressful time. You already know that. The stress is caused by hormonal imbalance during menopause.

Your hormones work in harmony for most of your life…..until menopause. They are said to be balanced. During menopause, the balance is disturbed. It begins with falling levels of estrogen and progesterone, which disturbs the balance between these two hormones. While estrogen levels fall from their premenopausal levels during perimenopause, progesterone levels fall further. This changes the ratio between them. There is greater percentage of estrogen in your body, relative to progesterone. This then disturbs the balance of the major hormones in your body….thyroid, insulin, and cortisol….throwing the performance and functioning of the major systems of your body out of sync. This is the cause of all your menopause symptoms and it can result in long term mental, emotional, and physical stress, putting you and your body under a tremendous and continuous stress load.

In previous posts, I discussed the affect that the imbalance between estrogen, progesterone, thyroid and insulin has on body shape. For the remainder of this post, I will discuss the affect that cortisol has on body shape during menopause.

Cortisol is a hormone that helps your body to maintain homeostasis ….. your body’s ability to physiologically regulate the functioning of all of its parts, to maintain stability. Specifically, it helps your body to manage blood pressure levels and your immune system, as well as reducing inflammation.

Cortisol is probably best known as the stress hormone. At times of stress, your body produces increased amounts of it, to provide you with the energy you need to deal with the stressful situation. It is known as the “fight or flight” reaction. Once a perceived threat has passed, cortisol levels will drop, your heart rate and blood pressure will return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities.

But when stress is continuously present, as it often is during menopause, your body reacts as if you are constantly under attack. The fight or flight response stays turned on. The long term activation of the stress response system results in an overexposure to cortisol, that can disrupt almost all your body’s processes.

When your body produces too much cortisol, you get fat. It causes fat to be stored around your waist.

Cortisol is responsible for much of the weight gain that women experience during menopause

  • It stimulates an increase in appetite to provide you with energy to deal with the stress
  • Excess amounts of it causes insulin resistance
  • It causes hypothyroidism
  • Estrogen helps to control the amount of cortisol your body produces. Falling levels of estrogen during menopause means less control of it

These factors lead to increasing fat storage in and around your midsection and results in an apple body shape.

The good news is that there is something you can do to manage your body’s production of cortisol. If you regularly do yoga, meditation or some other practice that reduces stress, your body will not produce as much of it.

However it is important to bear in mind that your body is a holistic system. Its parts are interdependent……ie excessive cortisol leads to insulin resistance, but insulin resistance causes your body to produce more cortisol. If you reduce the amount of cortisol your body is producing, but dont rebalance the other hormones, you may … or may not … lose weight and fat from around your mid section.


Pear To Apple Body Shape – Part 2 – Thyroid Effect

Body Shape

I'm eating properly and exercising, but I can get rid of this

It will help you to better understand the change in your body shape during menopause, if you think of your body as a holistic system….because it is a holistic system. The definition of holistic that applies here is

Emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts

Your body is like an orchestra. The various parts of your body are like the musicians and your hormones are like the conductor of the orchestra. Hormones are chemical messengers that direct your body to perform specific tasks. A balanced hormonal state is essential to all functions in your body, including growth and development, sex and reproduction, mood, sleep, and how your body uses food for energy or stores it as fat for energy.

Prior to perimenopause, your hormones work in harmony by co-existing with one another in a certain ratio. This keeps your body healthy and functioning. During perimenopause, your ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone. While estrogen levels fall from their premenopausal levels during perimenopause, progesterone levels fall further. In terms of the ratio between them, there is greater percentage of estrogen in your body, relative to progesterone. This not only disturbs the balance between estrogen and progesterone, but it disturbs the balance between all the hormones in your body.

In the remainder of this post, I will talk about one of those hormones – thyroid – and the effect that the changes in the levels of estrogen and progesterone have on it …. and on your body shape.

Thyroid regulates your metabolism. Think of your metabolism as the “boiler room” of your body. The changing ratio between estrogen and progesterone affects the functioning of thyroid. It causes it to be less effective and your metabolism slows down. When thyroid functioning diminishes, it brings about the condition known as hypothyroidism. It is estimated that 25% of menopausal women experience hypothyroidism.

What affect does the imbalance between estrogen and progesterone, and the reduced functioning of thyroid, have on your body shape? It is one of the factors that brings about an apple body shape. Estrogen causes food calories to be stored as fat. Thyroid causes fat calories to be turned into usable energy….it burns fat. Thyroid and estrogen therefore have opposing actions. However because estrogen has slowed down the functioning of thyroid, your body is burning less fat during perimenopause, than prior to it. As covered in an earlier post, during perimenopause your body stores fat around your waist, whereas in premenopause it stored fat in your thighs, buttocks and hips.

Hypothyroidism accounts for the weight gain that most women experience during menopause. It also explains why women who follow a good diet and who exercise daily, are not able to lose weight. In the presence of hypothyroidism, diet and exercise does not result in weight loss.

So what are you to do? You may think that the solution is to boost the levels of thyroid in your body, with medication. This may be the answer, if your thyroid gland is producing a diminished amount of thyroid hormone. However, in the majority of the cases of hypothyroidism, this will not resolve the weight gain situation. Even when the thyroid gland produces a sufficient amount of thyroid hormone, estrogen reduces the functionality of the thyroid hormone….thus creating a hypothyroid condition.

If your body shape has changed, or is changing, to an apple shape, it is worthwhile to get a thyroid test done to determine if your thyroid gland is producing sufficient thyroid hormone. You may want to start with a self test for hypothyroidism. Then follow this up with thyroid tests by a doctor. If you go to your GP for the tests, you run the risk of being told that your thyroid function is normal (thyroid gland is producing a normal level of thyroid hormone), yet you may have a hypothyroid condition because of the estrogen factor. Thyroid testing is best done by a thyroid specialist, who understands the effect that estrogen has on thyroid and so will will pride you with a more meaningful interpretation of the tests.

Once again you may ask, what can I do about my weight gain? In this post, I have talked about the effect that estrogen, progesterone and thyroid have on your body shape, but I havent touched upon the effect that 2 other major hormones …. insulin and cortisol….have on your body shape. I will cover this in future posts. As your body is a holistic system, you need to get the levels of ALL of your hormones checked and take action to restore the balance between them. I will talk about how to do this in future posts, as well.


A New Tool To Help Menopausal Women

Menopause Symptoms

I just dont know what to do

So many women have expressed the need to better educate themselves, their family, and employers about menopause. Of course they also talk about the need to better educate their doctors about it, as well.

A new tool has just been developed that will help women to choose the treatment(s) that best suit their menopause symptoms and their personal circumstances. It was created by the Women’s Health Research Institute at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The site can be viewed on a computer, tablet or smartphone.

The new tool is an online personalized “Menopause Self Assessment” to enable you to evaluate your own symptoms and health status. The assessment can be printed out to share and discuss with your health care provider. The site claims that it is continuously updated with the latest research by leading scientists and clinicians. It also claims to include the latest science on alternative and complementary treatments.

I have reviewed the site and the tool. In my opinion the site is heavily oriented toward HRT treatment to relieve symptoms. To be fair, I think that it does good job in presenting the risks and benefits of HRT.

I think that the site is weak on presenting alternatives to HRT. It does present information about bio identical hormone treatment and other treatments and natural remedies, but it does so in much less detail, when compared with the information it provides about HRT.

In fact, I found that many menopause treatments and remedies that studies have found to be effective in relieving menopause symptoms, are missing entirely

  • stress reduction – do yoga, meditation, relaxation therapy or some other stress reduction technique. Studies show that stress exacerbates menopause symptoms. Your symptoms will be less frequent and less severe if you regularly use a technique that reduces your stress
  • acupuncture – it is extremely effective at relieving hot flashes, mood swings and insomnia
  • hypnotherapy – medical studies have shown hypnosis to be particularly effective at reducing hot flashes
  • natural herbal product – Medical studies have found pycnogenol to be particularly effective at relieving hot flashes, night sweats, irregular periods, decreased libido, night sweats and vaginal dryness. The effectiveness of other natural products have not been validated by medical studies. However many woman report relief from these products. They do not produce universal results. A given product may work for 1 woman, but not other women. You may need to keep trying different products, until you find one that helps you
  • Chinese herbs – Many women report that Chinese herbs have helped to relieve their symptoms. Medical studies have found that EXD is effective at relieving hot flashes

Having said this, I suggest that you go to the site and the new self assessment tool and check it out yourself.

There is another interactive internet tool has been developed to help women cope with their menopause symptoms. It is called the “Menopause Map”. It was created by the Endocrine Society, an international medical organization dedicated to research on hormones. It is an online interactive tool that guides a woman through the different options available to get relief from her symptoms, through a series of questions about those symptoms and her personal health history.

The tool suggests hormonal or non hormonal options, based on individual symptoms and medical history of the woman. The woman is advised to discuss the options with
her own physician.

The site with the new Menopause Self Assessment tool and the Menopause Map can help to provide you and your family and your doctor with information that may help you to manage your menopause symptoms better.


HRT: A Better Way To Evaluate The Pros And Cons Of Taking It


I dont know what to do

HRT is such an emotive topic. I suspect that just the mention of it in the title of this post, will result in some women not reading this post.

I understand this kind of response. Almost every menopausal woman is aware that there are health risks associated with taking hormone replacement therapy and most women elect not to take it because of those health risks. Studies have found that taking it, increases the risk of breast cancer, heart disease and stroke.

However there are health benefits associated with taking HRT….quite apart from the relief of symptoms….that many woman are unaware of. Studies have found that it reduces the risk of Alzheimers and osteoporosis. Some studies have found that it decreases the risk of heart disease, rather than increasing it.

To view this matter objectively, you have to look closely at statistics, rather than listen to authors of articles that say “HRT increases the risk of…..” or “HRT decreases the risk of…..”. One newspaper article made this point very clearly

We must also understand that there are different ways of presenting risk. For example, if the risk of having a stroke is 2 in 100, and a medication increases it to 3 in 100, then it could be said that the treatment has increased the risk of a stroke by 1 per cent. This method of presenting data is called the ”absolute risk’’. However, it could equally be said that it has increased the risk of a stroke by 50 per cent. While this sounds far more alarming, it is the same data, just presented in a different way. This is called ”relative risk’’ and it is how the WHI study findings were reported.

The relative risk doesn’t help us assess the actual risk of someone on hormone replacement therapy developing breast cancer – because it doesn’t tell us how many people would develop it anyway. In the case of breast cancer and HRT, while the relative risk is 26 per cent, the absolute risk is 0.4 per cent. This means that, according to the WHI study, there are four extra cases of breast cancer per 1,000 women taking HRT over a five-year period. While this is still significant, it’s a clear example of how the same data can be expressed in different ways, and how it can affect how important the findings sound.

Let’s look at the findings of a new study about hormone therapy and breast cancer risk, that has recently been released. The study analyzed information collected over 11 years from 41,000 postmenopausal women ages 50 to 79. Half of the women were taking hormones, and half were not. It found that 2,200 of the 41,000 women in the study, developed breast cancer over the 11 years of the study. Those who took hormones, accounted for 0.60 percent. Those who didnt, accounted to 0.40 percent

  • In “relative risk” terms, this could be reported that women taking hormone replacement therapy were 50% more likely to get breast cancer (0.6% divided by 0.4%)
  • In “absolute risk” terms, this could be expressed as … 1320 women (2,200 x 0.6%) who took hormone therapy (or 3.2%), and 880 (2,200 x 0.4%) women who didnt take hormone therapy (or 2.1%) developed breast cancer. Or it could be expressed as …. 3.2% (1320 divided by 41,000) of the women who took hormones and 2.1% (880 divided by 41,000) of women who did not take hormones, developed breast cancer. Or it could be expressed as out of every 1000 women, 32 women who take hormone replacement therapy will get breast cancer and 21 women who dont take it will get breast cancer

Now let’s look a recent study about HRT and Alzheimer’s Disease. The researchers followed nearly 1,800 women, aged 65 and older, for 11 years. In all, more than 1,100 participants had used HRT. During the study, 7.9 percent of the women who had taken hormones developed Alzheimer’s disease compared with 13.4 percent of the women who had not.

  • In “relative risk” terms, this could be expressed as…woman who take HRT are 58% (7.9% divided by 13.4%) less likely to get Alzheimer’s Disease than women who dont take it
  • In “absolute risk” terms, this could be expressed as … 86 of the 1100 women who took hormone therapy developed Alzheimers disease, while 92 of the 700 women who didnt take it developed Alzheimers Disease

As studies that have examined the link between hormone replacement therapy and cardio-vascular disease are inconclusive ….some studies say that it slightly increases the risk and other studies say that it decreases risk….a decision to take HRT to reduce menopause symptoms could come down to evaluating the positive and negative health factors connected with taking it.

I hope that this post has shed some new light on how to evaluate the positive and negative health factors associated with taking HRT.


How To Eat To Reduce Your Menopause Symptoms

Menopause Symptoms

Foods like this will improve the way you feel during menopause

Diet plays a major role in how women feel and act during menopause. The foods that you eat can exacerbate or reduce your menopause symptoms.

Menopause symptoms are caused by changing levels of estrogen and progesterone during menopause. Prior to perimenopause, estrogen and progesterone work in harmony by co-existing with one another in a certain ratio. This keeps your reproductive system healthy and functioning. At the onset of menopause the ratio between them changes. The ratio continues to change until your reach postmenopause (no more periods).

There is another hormone that plays a very significant role in helping to rebalance estrogen and progesterone in your body. It is insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by your body, when you eat. When you have a meal, the food you eat is converted into glucose (also called blood sugar). Glucose provides the cells of your body with the energy they need to do the activities you want to do. Insulin enables the cells of your body to receive glucose. Without insulin, the cells would not be able to absorb glucose.

Your body can be insulin sensitive or insulin resistant. When it is insulin sensitive, insulin does what it is intended to do. When it is insulin resistant, insulin does not do what it is intended to do.

Insulin has a synergistic relationship with estrogen and progesterone. They help your body to be more insulin sensitive.

It’s impossible for a woman to balance her sex hormones, if the production of insulin is not managed and controlled.

Our metabolism evolved eons ago, when our diet included fewer (and more complex) carbohydrates. Today most calories in an average diet come in the form carbohydrates, and most of those are simple carbohydrates — sugars that quickly enter the bloodstream. The body has to release high levels of insulin to keep the level of glucose in the bloodstream from spiraling out of control. But in time the cells quit responding to this signal. At this point the body is “insulin resistant.”

One immediate consequence is that the body is forced to release even more insulin.

Simple carbohydrates is a term that is synonymous with process food. Processed food is food which has been chemically altered, from it natural state, through the use of additives such as flavors, flavor enhancers, binders, colors, fillers, preservatives, stabilizers, emulsifiers, etc. Packaged food, canned food and food in bottles and jars are examples of processed food. They are breeding grounds for sugar, salt and unhealthy fats.

As a general rule of thumb, when shopping for food …. avoid the central aisles of the store. They are generally full of processed foods. The healthier foods are usually found in periphery areas of food stores.

Best Foods To Eat To Reduce Menopause Symptoms

  1. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit . One half of your plate during each meal should consist of fresh fruit and vegetables
  2. Eat fresh oily fish at least twice a week -ie- tuna, salmon, herring, mackeral
  3. Eat lean meats and poultry without the skin
  4. Eat whole grain breads and cereals
  5. Pass on processed foods

If you eat in this way, it will help you to maintain your energy levels, reduce fatigue, reduce mood swings, keep your weight down and generally reduce all menopause symptoms. Weight gain during menopause will exacerbate your symptoms.

Surveys have revealed that hot flashes bother women more than other menopause symptoms. They exacerbate other symptoms. Hot flashes tend to be most intense and most frequent during the late perimenopause and the early postmenopause stages. During late perimenopause, estrogen levels continue to fall. During early postmenopause, estrogen levels bottom out and remain low thereafter. Low estrogen levels is the cause of hot flashes.

There are foods that help to raise estrogen levels in the body. They include apples, alfalfa, barley, baker’s yeast, beets, cherries, chickpeas, carrots, celery, cucumbers, dates, fennel, oats, olives and olive oil, papaya, peas, plums, pomegranates, potatoes, beans, rhubarb, rice, tomatoes, wheat and yams.

A recent study of 17,000 women found that menopausal women who lost weight eating a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables reduced or eliminated their hot flashes and night sweats.

If you follow the diet advice above, it will help you to manage the insulin levels in your body. It will also help you to manage your insulin levels if you eat something 5-6 times a day, or not less than every 3 hours, and you eat smaller portions at meal times. You can have breakfast, lunch and supper meals, but in between these meals you need to learn to eat healthy snacks like a piece of fruit etc.

If you follow the dietary advice in this post, your menopause symptoms will be less severe and less frequent.


FDA Approves The First Non Hormonal Drug Treatment For Hot Flashes

Treatment For Hot Flashes

Finally there is an approved medical treatment that is not HRT

The first nonhormonal drug treatment for hot flashes won approval from the Food and Drug Administration last week, offering a new drug alternative to HRT to menopausal women.

Many women will be interested to hear about this development because they have been searching for a non hormonal treatment for hot flashes. Some will consider using this treatment; others will not.

Until now the FDA has not approved any drug treatment for hot flashes that did not involve estrogen and/or progesterone. Several non hormonal drugs have been submitted for approval to the FDA to treat hot flashes, but they did not receive approval … even drugs that have been approved by the FDA to treat other medical conditions and that are widely used for those conditions.

The drug that was approved for the treatment of hot flashes is paroxetine. It is an antidepressant and it was previously approved by the FDA for the treatment of depression and it is prescribed for such.

There is controversy surrounding the approval of this drug treatment for hot flashes on 2 counts

  1. The approval was surprising because the advisory committee to the F.D.A. voted 10 to 4 in March against approval. The F.D.A. does not have to follow the recommendations of its advisory panels, but it is highly unusual for it to approve a drug that receives a strong negative vote
  2. As recently as 3 months ago the FDA did not grant approval for the use of 2 other FDA approved antidepressants, for the treatment of hot flashes. Both were as effective as paroxetine in the treatment of hot flashes in trials and carry the same side effects as paroxetine. The FDA statement, denying approval of their use in the treatment for hot flashes, said that they were unimpressed by the drug’s limited effectiveness in controlling hot flashes in light of its possible mental health side effects and other central nervous system effects

The FDA panel that approved paroxetine for the treatment of hot flashes, may have felt pressure to approve a non hormonal drug treatment for hot flashes.

Kathryn M. Curtis, PhD, from the CDC, calls Sefelsa’s effect “limited and modest” in explaining her no vote.

“We all understand the huge need for a nonhormonal treatment for hot flashes, but approving a drug that has a very modest effect is almost misleading to those women who are really looking for something that is very effective,” Curtis says.
Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD, from Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, echoes her sentiments.

“As much as I would love to have nonhormonal alternatives for women, I’m concerned about the sustainability and the limited [effectiveness] of this product. I’m also concerned about the dizziness and disorientation with this drug. We just have to keep trying,” she says.

Linda Keyes, a consumer representative on the panel and one of the two yes voters, says the demand and desire for such nonhormonal treatment “is high enough that I feel that a very modest reduction is still acceptable, assuming the risks are known and carefully watched, which I believe they can be.”

Doctors have been prescribing “off label” drugs for the treatment of hot flashes for several years. An “off label” drug is one that has been approved by the FDA for treatment of a specified condition, but is prescribed to treat a condition for which it does not have FDA approval.

Trials have shown that some antidepressants have helped women to reduce their hot flashes. All of these drugs come with warnings about side affects. The label of paroxetine carries the warning that it can increase suicidal thoughts or behavior.


Is Your Vagina Going Through Troublesome Changes?

Vaginal Dryness

I dont feel comfortable talking about this to anyone

If you search menopause forums or go onto Facebook pages about menopause or just search for articles about menopause symptoms, you will find much discussion about hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, sleep disturbance and weight gain. But you wont find much discussion about vaginal dryness.

Vaginal dryness is the least discussed menopause symptom, yet it is estimated that 32 million American woman experience it. Because it causes pain during intercourse, it often leads to a decrease in sexual interest and activity. This has strained relationships.

Vaginal dryness is caused by a condition called vaginal atrophy. Vaginal atrophy is a condition in which the vaginal wall gets thinner and it gets inflamed. It occurs during menopause when there is a reduction in levels of estrogen. The symptoms of vaginal atrophy include vaginal burning, itching, dryness and irritation.

Vaginal dryness has had a significant impact on relationships, yet studies have found that women do not tend to talk about this symptom with friends, peers and their doctors.

Dr James A. Simon, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC, and past president of the North American Menopause society led the Clarifying Vaginal Atrophy’s Impact on Sex and Relationships (CLOSER) study…..that looked into the affect that vaginal atrophy had on relationships. He concluded that most women are not comfortable talking about their vaginal symptoms and so vaginal atrophy goes untreated. It is estimated that as many as 32 million women in the U.S. alone may experience vaginal dryness but only 7% get treatment for it.

Dr Simon said “We need a well-respected, visible, menopausal woman to bring this to the masses, because now we have survey data that say it’s not only prevalent, it’s not being adequately treated and it’s affecting relationships.” An Oscar nominated actress, Virginia Madsen, is now a spokeswoman for this issue. This is what she had to say

“When I found out how many women don’t talk about their painful intercourse, I was surprised.

It amazes me that in this day and age, when it seems there is no topic considered off limits, that so many postmenopausal women remain silent,” said Virginia Madsen. “It’s very important for women to know they’re not alone. The more women who are able to find the right words to begin this conversation, the more widespread attention we can bring to this topic.”

later she said

“These days, about one-third of a woman’s life could be spent in her menopausal years. I’m a confidante to many of my close girlfriends and we talk a lot about what we are experiencing as our bodies change, and I can tell you that intimacy remains important to women at any age,” added Madsen.

As another recent study found that twenty-eight percent of women did not tell their partners when they first encountered vaginal dryness because ‘it was just a natural part of growing older’ (52%) or embarrassment (21%), I am particularly pleased to learn about the Finding the Words website. The purpose of this site is to help women to break their silence around this common but seldom discussed medical condition. It will provide you with information, tools and resources that will help you to begin this conversation with your partner and your healthcare provider.


Your Cosmetic Products Are Making Your Menopause Symptoms Worse

Menopause Symptoms

I know that cosmetics can wrinkle skin...but I didnt know about the menopause link

Almost all cosmetic products contain 2 chemicals that are xenoestrogens. A xenoestrogen is a man made chemical that acts like estrogen in your body. Xenoestrogens worsen your menopause symptoms, by disturbing the hormonal balance in your body.

The two xenoestrogens you need to be concerned about in cosmetic products are called parabens and phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates).

Parabens are chemicals that are used as preservatives to fight bacteria and fungus. They
keep ingredients fresher for longer by killing molds and funguses before they have a chance to spread and damage products. They extend the shelf life of cosmetic products on store shelves and in home medicine cabinets or drawers. They are widely available and cost very little to manufacture and use. They are easily absorbed through your skin.

Phthalates are called “everywhere chemicals” because they are so common. They are used in cosmetic products such as nail polishes, to reduce cracking by making them less brittle, and hair sprays and gels, to help avoid stiffness by allowing them to form a flexible film on the hair. They are also used as solvents in perfume, fragrances, and deodorants.

In 2002 a coalition of environmental and public health organizations contracted with a major national laboratory to test 72 name-brand, off-the-shelf beauty products for the presence of these xenoestrogens. The laboratory found them in 52 of 72 products, including nine of 14 deodorants, all 17 fragrances tested, six of seven hair gels, four of seven mousses, 14 of 18 hair sprays, and two of nine hand and body lotions.

Unless you are aware of the omnipresence of parabens and phthalates in cosmetic products, and take steps to avoid them, their presence in the cosmetic products you are using will disturb the balance of the hormones in your body. This will worsen your menopause symptoms.

As you probably already know, your menopause symptoms are caused by the changing levels of the hormones in your body during menopause. Prior to perimenopause your hormones coexist with one another in a certain ratio. That ratio changes during perimenopause and it causes the symptoms that you are experiencing.

The two main hormones that bring about menopause symptoms are estrogen and progesterone. During perimenopause, the ratio of estrogens to progesterone increases. While estrogen levels fall from their premenopausal levels during perimenopause, progesterone levels fall further. In terms of the ratio between them, there is greater percentage of estrogens in your body, relative to progesterone.

To reduce the frequency and severity of your menopause symptoms, you need to restore the ratio of estrogen to progesterone …. to their premenopause levels. You can do this by decreasing the levels of estrogen in your body or increasing the level of progesterone in your body….or a combination of both.

This is an ongoing challenge because xenoestrogens are everywhere around you …. not just in the cosmetics you use. More than 80,000 different chemicals are now used in manufacturing, agriculture, and consumer products to increase company profits. Many of these chemicals mimic estrogen in your body.

Because parabens and phthalates in cosmetic products are absorbed by your body, they disturb the balance of your hormones and exacerbate your menopause symptoms. If you eliminate, or at least reduce, your use of cosmetic products containing them, it will help you to reduce your symptoms.

Look out for a future post that will help you to identify brands that do not contain parabens and phthalates.

It is also worth noting that a recent study found that cosmetics containing parabens and phthalates brings on early menopause.


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