Are You In Menopause?

Are You In Menopause? (<i>cont'd</i>)

If you are feeling chronically tired, it's a good idea to get liver function and thyroid function tests. Often women in menopause have undiagnosed hypothyroidism, which significantly affects their metabolism of food into energy, as well as their mood.

Are you forgetful or unable to concentrate?

Forgetfulness, short-term memory loss, feeling confused or distracted, or being unable to focus or concentrate are symptoms of the brain fog that often accompanies menopause. Mental clarity for women is linked to estrogen, for which there are many receptors in the brain. The drop in estrogen levels at menopause affects these brain functions.

Many women become so forgetful or unable to concentrate at menopause that they worry they have Alzheimer's disease. It's likely not Alzheimer's. Unfortunately, recent studies published in The Journal of the American Geriatric Societyand theJournal of the American Medical Associationappear to indicate that estrogen replacement therapy is not the solution to this problem of forgetfulness and inability to concentrate.

However, there are lifestyle solutions that may help you. Oxygen is critical for brain function. Your brain uses 20 percent of your body's total energy production. So you need to support your body in transporting oxygen and critical nutrients to your brain. Many doctors suggest that women avoid sugar, red meat, saturated fats, alcohol, and caffeine, as well as give up smoking.

In addition, increasing consumption of whole grains, fresh, raw fruits and vegetables that are high in natural antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta carotene should help. Oranges, grapefruits, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli and green leafy vegetables are in this category. Other women benefit from increasing consumption of cold water fish such as salmon and decreasing the number of red-meat meals eaten each week.

You might consider lowering stress levels by practicing yoga or t'ai chi or meditation or by listening to soothing music and practicing deep breathing. Some women have had good results with gingko biloba, an herbal vasodilator that has been tested in 400 studies for its effect on memory and attention. There is no one-size-fits-all in women's health. Ask your healthcare provider what would work best for you.

Have you lost your sex drive?

Loss of sex drive, or libido, is tied to a drop in testosterone, the male hormone a woman's body naturally produces when she ovulates that causes her to want to have sex at the time that an egg is ready to be fertilized. When you stop ovulating at menopause, your testosterone production drops by about half.

Usually you will have had hot flashes and vaginal dryness (as the tissues thin and do not lubricate during sex as well) before you experience this symptom. Many doctors are now prescribing a very low dose of testosterone to restore a woman's libido at menopause.