How it impacts physical and mental health

Healthy Support

EXPERTS SAY MOST WOMEN WILL START THE MENOPAUSE TRANSITION IN THEIR LATE 40S AND SYMPTOMS CAN LAST, ON AVERAGE A DECADE. RIGHT NOW, THERE ARE SEVERAL BIG STUDIES HAPPENING HERE IN PITTSBURGH THAT DIVE DEEPER INTO WHAT THEY MEAN HISTORICALLY, THERE HASN’T BEEN A LOT OF ATTENTION PAID TO THE MENOPAUSE. THIS HAS BEEN A TOPIC THAT HAS BEEN TALKED ABOUT BEHIND CLOSED DOORS IN HUSHED TONES AND WE’RE BRINGING IT OUT OF THE SHADOWS. DR. REBECCA THURSTON LEADS SEVERAL RESEARCH PROJECTS IN PITTSBURGH AND TREATS PATIENTS AT THE MIDLIFE HEALTH CENTER AT UPMC. MAGEE WOMEN’S HOSPITAL. THE DIRECTOR OF THE WOMEN’S BIOBEHAVIORAL HEALTH PROGRAM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PITT WILL BE THE FIRST TO TELL YOU THAT A LOT IS GOING ON DURING THE MENOPAUSE TRANSITION. 70% OF WOMEN WILL GET HOT FLASHES AND NIGHT SWEATS. ABOUT 50% OF WOMEN WILL HAVE SLEEP PROBLEMS. ALL WOMEN WILL GO THROUGH THE MENOPAUSE. SO THERE’S NO GETTING AROUND IT. SO IF YOU HAVE YOUR OVARIES, YOU WILL GO THROUGH MENOPAUSE. PITTSBURGH’S ACTION NEWS 4 TOOK A LOOK AT TWO STUDIES ASSOCIATED WITH MENOPAUSE AND THE MS. HEART STUDY. SOME FINDINGS SHOWED HOT FLASHES ARE NOT ONLY UNCOMFORTABLE, BUT ALSO COULD BE HARD ON THE HEART. A HOT FLASH IS NOT NECESSARILY JUST A HOT FLASH. WE FIND THOSE SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH INDICATORS OF CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE AS WELL AS CEREBROVASCULAR HEALTH AND THE MS. BRAIN STUDY, MOST RECENTLY THURSTON SHOWED THAT HOT FLASHES AND NIGHT SWEATS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH A DIP IN BRAIN HEALTH. WE’RE MEASURING WOMEN’S HOT FLASHES OBJECTIVELY. WE HOOK THEM UP TO MONITOR SO WE CAN MEASURE THE HOT FLASHES DURING THE DAY AND THE NIGHT. AND WE ARE LOOKING AT WHAT ARE THOSE HOT FLASHES MEAN? LEANN BRIGGS IS PARTICIPATING IN THURSTON’S MISS BRAIN STUDY. TELL ME THE NAME OF THIS ANIMAL LION AND THIS ANIMAL RHINOCEROS. SHE BECAME A PART OF THE TRIAL FIVE YEARS AGO. NOW SHE’S BACK IN FOR A SECOND ROUND, HELPING RESEARCHERS LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MENOPAUSE TRANSITION. I THINK JUST KNOWING MORE AND HAVING MORE OPTIONS AND BETTER OPTIONS, HOW TO MANEUVER THROUGH IT, I THINK IS A BETTER IDEA. AND WHATEVER I CAN DO TO HELP MOVE THAT FORWARD, THEN I’M ALL FOR IT AS FOR TREATING SEVERE MENOPAUSE SYMPTOMS, THURSTON SAYS THERE ARE SEVERAL TREATMENTS AVAILABLE. GET HELP. YOU DON’T. HORMONES ARE NOT THE ONLY THING THAT YOU CAN USE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO USE HORMONES. THERE’S MANY OTHER OPTIONS AVAILABLE TO YOU. SO JUST DON’T DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE. BUT THURSTON SAYS MENOPAUSE ISN’T ALL BAD. I FIND CLINICALLY A LOT OF WOMEN ALSO TELL ME THAT THEY’RE REALLY FEELING INCREASES IN SELF-CONFIDENCE AND POWER, CARRYING A LITTLE BIT LESS ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE THINK OF THEM, WHICH I THINK IS A FREEING ASPECT OF AGING AND MORE PROMISING NEWS. DR. THURSTON SAYS THE FDA IS CURRENTLY REVIEWING A NEW CLASS OF MEDICATIONS THEY HOPE

4 Your Health: How menopause impacts your physical and mental health

“All women will go through menopause, so there’s no getting around it.”

It’s inevitable.Experts say most women will start the menopause transition in their late 40s, and symptoms can last, on average, a decade.Right now, there are several big studies happening in Pittsburgh that dive deeper into what they mean.“Historically, there hasn’t been a lot of attention paid to the menopause. This has been a topic that has been talked about behind closed doors in hushed tones, and we are bringing it out of the shadows,” said Dr. Rebecca Thurston, director of the Women’s Biobehavioral Health Program at the University of Pittsburgh.Thurston leads several research projects in Pittsburgh and treats patients at the Midlife Health Center at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital. She will be the first to tell you there is a lot going on during the menopause transition.About 70% of women will get hot flashes and night sweats. About 50% of women will have sleep problems.“All women will go through menopause, so there’s no getting around it, so if you have your ovaries, you will go through menopause,” Thurston said.Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 took a look at two studies associated with menopause. In the MSHeart study, some findings showed hot flashes are not only uncomfortable but also could be hard on the heart.“A hot flash is not necessarily just a hot flash. We find those symptoms associated with indicators of cardiovascular disease as well as cerebral vascular health,” Thurston said.In the MSBrain study, most recently, Thurston showed that hot flashes and night sweats are associated with a dip in brain health.“We are measuring women’s hot flashes objectively. We hook them up to monitors, so we can measure the hot flashes during the day and the night, and we are looking at what do those hot flashes mean,” Thurston said.“I would be sitting at my desk, and all of a sudden, my back would be soak and wet. It was just like someone lit a fire underneath you, and it would just come up your back and out your face,” Lee Ann Briggs said.Briggs is participating in the MSBrain study. She became a part of the trial five years ago. Now, she’s back in for a second round helping researchers learn more about the menopause transition.“I think just knowing more and having more options and better options on how to maneuver through it, I think, is a better idea, and whatever I can do to help move that forward, then I’m all for it,” Briggs said.As for treating severe menopause symptoms, Thurston says there are several treatments available.“Get help. Hormones are not the only thing that you can use. If you don’t want to use hormones, there are many other options available to you, so just don’t suffer in silence,” Thurston said.And the good news? Thurston says menopause isn’t all bad.“I find, clinically, a lot of women also tell me that they are really feeling increases in self-confidence, empower, caring a little bit less about what people think of them, which I think is a freeing aspect of aging,” Thurston said.

It’s inevitable.

Experts say most women will start the menopause transition in their late 40s, and symptoms can last, on average, a decade.

Right now, there are several big studies happening in Pittsburgh that dive deeper into what they mean.

“Historically, there hasn’t been a lot of attention paid to the menopause. This has been a topic that has been talked about behind closed doors in hushed tones, and we are bringing it out of the shadows,” said Dr. Rebecca Thurston, director of the Women’s Biobehavioral Health Program at the University of Pittsburgh.

Thurston leads several research projects in Pittsburgh and treats patients at the Midlife Health Center at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital. She will be the first to tell you there is a lot going on during the menopause transition.

About 70% of women will get hot flashes and night sweats. About 50% of women will have sleep problems.

“All women will go through menopause, so there’s no getting around it, so if you have your ovaries, you will go through menopause,” Thurston said.

Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 took a look at two studies associated with menopause. In the MSHeart study, some findings showed hot flashes are not only uncomfortable but also could be hard on the heart.

“A hot flash is not necessarily just a hot flash. We find those symptoms associated with indicators of cardiovascular disease as well as cerebral vascular health,” Thurston said.

In the MSBrain study, most recently, Thurston showed that hot flashes and night sweats are associated with a dip in brain health.

“We are measuring women’s hot flashes objectively. We hook them up to monitors, so we can measure the hot flashes during the day and the night, and we are looking at what do those hot flashes mean,” Thurston said.

“I would be sitting at my desk, and all of a sudden, my back would be soak and wet. It was just like someone lit a fire underneath you, and it would just come up your back and out your face,” Lee Ann Briggs said.

Briggs is participating in the MSBrain study. She became a part of the trial five years ago. Now, she’s back in for a second round helping researchers learn more about the menopause transition.

“I think just knowing more and having more options and better options on how to maneuver through it, I think, is a better idea, and whatever I can do to help move that forward, then I’m all for it,” Briggs said.

As for treating severe menopause symptoms, Thurston says there are several treatments available.

“Get help. Hormones are not the only thing that you can use. If you don’t want to use hormones, there are many other options available to you, so just don’t suffer in silence,” Thurston said.

And the good news? Thurston says menopause isn’t all bad.

“I find, clinically, a lot of women also tell me that they are really feeling increases in self-confidence, empower, caring a little bit less about what people think of them, which I think is a freeing aspect of aging,” Thurston said.

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