Connect with us

Women’s Health

Why perimenopause signs and symptoms aren’t always clear

Published

on

Heather Corinna, a 51-year-old Chicago resident, received a $ 10,000 medical bill after visiting the emergency room several years ago. Corinna, identifying as non-binary, thought she was having a heart attack. What they experienced wasn’t a heart attack, but a hot flash – a big one.

“So few people in the medical community are trained to do this,” they said. “I was given a whole bunch of tests that I probably didn’t need because no one said, ‘You’re in your 40s, you have a uterus – did you think this could happen?'”

With hindsight, Corinna, author of What Fresh Hell Is This ?: Perimenopause, Menopause, Other Indignities, and You, put all the symptoms she’d experienced up to this diagnosis together, and it all made sense. According to the American College of Gynecologists, perimenopause is the length of time before menopause characterized by changes in the menstrual cycle, sleep problems, vaginal dryness, and hot flashes. Nicole E. Williams, MD, a gynecological surgeon at The Gynecology Institute of Chicago, said that some of the early symptoms of perimenopause mimick a variety of other common health problems.

“Perimenopause is something that I think doctors, even gynecologists, don’t like to discuss,” she said. “Symptoms start in your thirties. Combine this with the fact that the most common symptom of perimenopause is irregular periods – it’s easy for a doctor or even a patient to overlook or ignore them, attributing this normal physiological change to stress, diet, or other reasons. “

Another major perimenopause symptom that Williams sees in her patients is night sweats and even symptoms of depression just before their period. Such symptoms can appear years before actual menopause, she said.

The symptoms of perimenopause are not uniform

When we think of menopause, we think of hot flashes. The transition to menopause is also marked by these sudden and intense feelings of heat all over the body, but somewhat less often. The actual symptoms of perimenopause vary widely.

Jill Leonard, 52, of Vancouver, Canada, said her perimenopause symptoms actually looked like rarer and more serious health concerns. “My hair loss could have been a sign of hypothyroidism, but post-sex bleeding could herald anything from uterine polyps to cancer,” she said.

One of the main barriers to diagnosing perimenopause is that the term itself is very vague, which creates a lot of problems with the way we talk about perimenopause as well as the symptoms, said Los Angeles-based gynecologist Sarah Yamaguchi, MD used to cover the hormonal changes women go through when they are about to miss their periods. There is no strict definition of perimenopause in terms of symptoms, ”she said. “Many women attribute any change in their health in their 40s to perimenopause, but that’s not always the case.”

Because it’s a gradual process, there isn’t a single test that helps diagnose the onset of perimenopause, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“Most of the time when we’re in we can’t find out how long we’ve actually been around because it’s not really one of those things that you can take a test on or where there is a certain ending,” said Corinna. “I’ve probably been in perimenopause for about seven to nine years now.”

Even that is difficult to track. The US Department of Health’s Bureau of Women’s Health defines perimenopause as the transition to menopause, or the time before your last period.

Treatment of symptoms of perimenopause

Doctors agree that any symptoms that interfere with daily life are worth treating. “We often overlook or downplay symptoms such as irregular periods or PMS and count them with normal shifts. While it may be normal, if symptoms persist or affect a woman’s life it is important to take that into account as these symptoms can and should be addressed, ”Williams said.

Yamaguchi notes that treating symptoms depends on what they are. “Treatments range from simple over-the-counter lubricants for vaginal dryness to hormone supplements,” she said. “Common symptoms include changes in their periods, vaginal dryness, and hot flashes, but women can also experience changes in their mood, decreased libido, headaches, weight changes, insomnia, and many other things.”

Race and gender differences present challenges

Racial and gender differences also present challenges in how we talk about perimenopause. According to a 2019 study in the Journal of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, up to 80% of women experience vasomotor symptoms or hot flashes and night sweats during perimenopause. However, black women experience it an average of 10 years before menopause, compared to 6.5 years for white women. Yamaguchi recommends discussing these symptoms with a gynecologist. Doctors can prescribe medication to reduce hot flashes.

There is also the overlooked symptom that particularly affects trans and non-binary people who are transitioning into menopause: dysphoria. Gender dysphoria, or the psychological distress a person experiences when their gender assigned at birth and their gender mismatch, is something Corinna struggled with during her transition into menopause. “I had to upgrade my therapy level because I actually had dysphoria, although that doesn’t usually happen to me,” they said.

Corinna explained that people with dysphoria often need to avoid resources and information about perimenopause and menopause because it would cause emotional pain. “Even for cisgender women, there has been a lot of talk about menopause in the past who talked about gender in a way that has led to some gender identity crises,” they said.

Studies show that women who have had their ovaries removed or have decreased ovarian function due to PCOS report feeling “less of a woman”. Studies that specifically focus on perimenopause in this regard are not readily available. Corinna stresses, however, that such a close link between reproductive function and gender identity hinders conversations about perimenopause.

“I think it really benefits everyone better if you talk about it more fully and talk about perimenopause and menopause as something that happens to people.”

Connected:

Women’s Health

Your Community: Health and wellness resources

Published

on

Taking care of your health, both body and mind, plays an important role in determining your quality of life. When you are so busy taking care of others it is easy to forget to take care of yourself. This can happen gradually, and you may not even realize that there is a problem until you reach a breaking point. You may have chosen to just “live with it” and let the problem persist even though treatment options are available. However, this is not always a choice as ignorance of who to turn to or the cost of treatment could be a major obstacle for many. Fortunately, the Johnson County Library has compiled health and wellness resources that will connect you with information and guidance to help you perform at your best.

These health-related and medical resources offer a variety of perspectives on complementary, holistic, and integrated approaches to health care and wellness presented in understandable language. Discover authoritative medical information on medicines, nursing, dentistry, the healthcare system, preclinical science, even veterinary medicine, and more. The resources also cover topics such as cancer, diabetes, drug and alcohol addiction, fitness, nutrition and dietetics, child health, aging, and men’s and women’s health. Find and browse medical encyclopedias, popular reference books, and magazine articles. You will find articles with detailed background guidance on diagnoses and treatments that have helpful descriptive images.

For those seeking healthcare help, resources are available to help the uninsured and underinsured. Find local, affordable health services, including primary care, emergency care, dental care, prescription help, and free helplines. Search a directory that enables caregivers in the greater Kansas City area to find resources for the elderly, including financial assistance, nutrition, legal assistance, health care providers, housing options such as assisted living facilities, and mental health services.

Discover, challenge and train your mind with articles and courses online. Access the world’s largest full-text database on psychology, with full articles from nearly 400 journals. Topics include emotional and behavioral traits, psychiatry and psychology, philosophy, theology, mental processes, anthropology, and observational and experimental methods. There are also convenient online courses. Explore the course catalog to see all the offers and to register for a course. With over 500 online courses on topics such as alternative medicine, health & medicine, personality development, psychology, and self-help, you’re sure to find something that piques your interest and occupies you.

Take care of your mind and body with resources designed for you. Check out the health and wellness resources at jocolibrary.org today.

Johnson County Library – Promoting the community’s collective wisdom

Continue Reading

Women’s Health

Medical failure with painful women

Published

on

I got sick 10 years ago. In October 2010, the cause of the strange pain that had plagued me for many years was finally revealed and I was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the most common form of lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease. .. 90 percent of the estimated 3.5 million people who have it are women. Like many other autoimmune and chronic diseases that affect woman’s imbalance, such as polysclerosis, Graves disease, myasthenia gravis, rheumatoid arthritis, and endometriosis, SLE is incurable. The cause is not fully understood.

For years after being diagnosed, I learned to live with a mysterious and unpredictable disease, so I dug up my medical history for an answer. Like many Russian nest dolls, sick women appeared from the medical chronicles. Their medical history often followed a similar pattern: teething, years of pain and mysterious symptoms, and repeated misdiagnosis. These women were part of my story. However, observations of her disability and symptoms in clinical trials have told only a small part of her story. The records of their fall gave clues about their bodies but said nothing about the meaning of life within them.

I tried to imagine what it would feel like when a sick woman had a disease that was beyond medical understanding at these different points in history. I felt a close relationship. We shared the same basic biology. What has changed over time is that medicine understands him, not the female body.

The author, who suffers from the most common form of lupus, took a photo at her home on June 8th.

Photo:
The Wall Street Journal Dylan Thomas

Since ancient Greece, spirits of suspicion and discrimination have been plagued by medical treatises on women’s health. The author of Hippocrates Corpus, a seminal article on Western medical practice, spoke about “inexperience and ignorance” of female physical and disease problems. In the 17th century, hysteria emerged as an explanation for the various symptoms and diseases in women. Derived from the ancient Greek hysteria, hysteria, which means uterus, was originally derived from the reproductive organs, which have been the cause of many women’s diseases since the Hippocratic era.

In the 19th century, especially when the cause of the disease could not be identified immediately, female hysteria moved “to the center of the stage” and “became a clear topic in numerous medical texts,” said the British medical historian Roy. Porter writes in “Hysteria Beyond Freud”. .. As the cultural critic Elaine Showalter has shown in her influential story The Female Malady, prominent doctors and psychiatrists at the time were aware of the perception of women who create symptoms of hysteria for attention and empathy. Connected to trends.

Prejudices against the body, mind and life of women cast a long shadow over modern clinical and biomedical knowledge. Graves’ disease, an autoimmune thyroid disease that affects 70-80% of women more than men, was first described in 1835 as “female nervousness” and in 1956 as an autoimmune causal link. Was called psychosomatic after the discovery. Graves’ disease, an autoimmune neuromuscular disease first mentioned in 1877, was misdiagnosed as mentally ill and rejected as a psychosomatic disease in the 20th century. Multiple sclerosis has been known to be more common in women since the 1940s, but this prevalence has long been obscured by the assumption that female neuropathy and movement disorders are neuropathy or hysteria. Was there.

In 1955, Johns Hopkins’ chronic disease expert found that over the past decade, several women who were eventually diagnosed with lupus after a doctor misdiagnosed chronic physical pain had been treated with electroshock therapy, insulin. He revealed that he had tolerated unnecessary psychiatric and surgical procedures such as coma and hysterectomy. As a symptomatism of emotional instability. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic bowel disease that affects women’s reproductive and sexual functions in ways that are not well understood and that have historically been attributed to psychological distress. The recommended treatment for female patients in the 1950s was prefrontal lobotomy.

“”
It was only a generation ago that a groundbreaking study from 2001 created widespread awareness of the “gender pain gap”.

Until the late 20th century, clinical studies and biomedical research relied heavily on male subjects and male laboratory animal models. US law of 1993 required the appropriate involvement of women and minority members in projects funded by the National Institutes of Health. This led, for example, to the first large-scale study on the preventive effects of aspirin on cardiovascular disease in women. In previous exams only men were enrolled.

A widespread awareness of the “gender pain gap” arose only a generation ago as a result of a groundbreaking study from 2001 entitled “Girls Who Cry Pain: Prejudice against Women in the Treatment of Pain”. Using clinical data and social research collected since the 1970s, authors Diane Hoffman and Anita Talzian, medical ethics and law scholars at the University of Maryland, found that women were more comforting than stated they were more likely to be prescribed antidepressants. They considered this inequality to be “unreliable because it is more emotionally based on the pain of women”.

Recently, a Swedish team analyzed gender and pain studies published in the US, UK and Europe since 2001, and pain in women is more often “psychological” than men. It’s not taken very seriously. “

A 2019 and 2020 report by two related teams based in Toronto analyzed studies on the treatment of heart disease and depression and found that women had fewer referrals and procedures than men. Women also tended to declare poor communication with doctors. The report can change the dynamics by developing specific “patient-centered” treatment regimens in treating women, including training doctors to “listen actively” and “question”. It has been suggested that few practical studies have been found to initiate such practices.

One of the bright spots is that the number of women doctors is increasing. Women themselves report better diagnosis and treatment results when they are treated by a doctor. According to a 2018 report by the National Academy of Sciences, female patients are more likely to survive a heart attack if their doctor is a woman. Men still outnumber active U.S. doctors, but in 2019 women made up 36.6% of the field, 8 points more than in 2007.

Share your thoughts

Have you or your family and friends found that women are more likely to dismiss health problems than men? Join the conversation below.

Last year, the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of integrating gender differences into medical research. Studies have shown that women, especially women over 55, are more likely to experience long-term post-viral symptoms such as shortness of breath, malaise, and brain fog. Women also seem to have more side effects after vaccination, including life-threatening ones, but the extent and severity of possible risks are not yet understood.

Today researchers have realized that the exact reason for the gender differences in the incidence of my disease, SLE, was prevalent in women over a century ago, but it remains largely a mystery. More research is urgently needed to understand how and why far more women are affected by complex chronic and immunological diseases, but women also experience their own pain and illness experiences. Must be valued more as an accurate reporter. Many of the answers lie in the female body, which has been written by the female body for centuries.

Copyright © 2020 DowJones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Continue Reading

Women’s Health

Medicine’s Failure With Women in Pain

Published

on

I became a sick woman 10 years ago. In October 2010, the cause of the strange pain that had haunted me for years was finally uncovered and I was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a chronic autoimmune disease that is the most common form of lupus. Ninety percent of the estimated 3.5 million people who have it are women. Like many other autoimmune and chronic diseases that disproportionately affect women – including multiple sclerosis, Graves’ disease, myasthenia gravis, rheumatoid arthritis, and endometriosis – SLE is incurable and its cause is not fully understood.

In the years since my diagnosis, as I learned to live with my mysterious, unpredictable disease, I looked for answers through my medical history. Unwell women, like so many Russian nesting dolls, emerged from the annals of medicine. Their medical histories often followed similar patterns: childhood illnesses, years of pain and mysterious symptoms, and repeated misdiagnosis. These women were part of my story. But the observations of their disorders and symptoms in clinical trials told only a fraction of their stories. Notes on their cases gave clues about their bodies but said nothing about what it meant to live in them.

I tried to imagine what it felt like to be a sick woman struggling with an illness that defied medical understanding at these different points in history. I felt a close relationship; we shared the same basic biology. What has changed over time is not the female body, but medicine ‘s understanding of it.

The author, who suffers from the most common form of lupus, was photographed at her home on June 8th.


Photo:

Dylan Thomas for the Wall Street Journal

Specters of doubt and discrimination have haunted medical treatises on women’s health since ancient Greece. The authors of the Hippocratic Corpus, the fundamental treatise on Western medical practice, spoke of the “inexperience and ignorance” of women about their bodies and their diseases. In the 17th century, hysteria emerged as an explanation for a variety of symptoms and illnesses in women. Derived from the ancient Greek word hystera, which means uterus, it was originally believed that hysteria originated from the reproductive organs, which have been considered the source of many female diseases since the Hippocratic era.

In the 19th century, female hysteria “took center stage” and “became the explicit topic of numerous medical texts”, especially when the cause of an illness was not immediately apparent, wrote the British medical historian Roy Porter in “Hysteria Beyond Freud”. . “As the cultural critic Elaine Showalter has shown in her influential story“ The Female Malady ”, well-known doctors and psychiatrists of the time linked hysteria with the perceived tendency of women to fabricate symptoms for attention and sympathy.

Prejudices about the body, mind and life of women have cast a long shadow over modern clinical and biomedical knowledge. Graves’ disease, an autoimmune thyroid disease that affects 70-80% more women than men, had “female nervousness” in its earliest descriptions in 1835 and was even labeled psychosomatic, even after its autoimmune causality was discovered in 1956. Many women with myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune neuromuscular disease first mentioned in 1877, were diagnosed as mentally ill and dismissed as hypochondriac until the 20th century. Multiple sclerosis has been known to be more common in women since the 1940s, but this prevalence has long been obscured by the assumption that the neurological and motor disorders in women are nervous or hysterical.

In 1955, chronic disease specialists at Johns Hopkins revealed that over the past decade, several women who were eventually diagnosed with lupus had undergone unnecessary psychiatric and surgical procedures – including electroshock therapy, insulin coma, and hysterectomy – after doctors misdiagnosed their chronic physical pain diagnosed as a symptom of emotional instability. Ulcerative colitis, a chronic bowel disease that affects the reproductive and sexual functions of women in poorly understood ways, has historically been considered to be caused by psychological distress. The recommended treatment for patients in the 1950s was prefrontal lobotomy.


As a result of a groundbreaking study in 2001, the gender pain gap was widely recognized only a generation ago.

Until almost the end of the 20th century, clinical studies and biomedical research relied disproportionately on male subjects and male laboratory animal models. US law of 1993 required the appropriate involvement of women and minority members in projects funded by the National Institutes of Health. This led, for example, to the first large-scale research on the preventive effects of aspirin on cardiovascular disease in women; previous studies had only men enrolled.

As a result of the groundbreaking 2001 study, “The Girl Who Cried Pain: A Bias Against Women in the Treatment of Pain,” the gender pain gap was generally recognized only a generation ago. Authors Diane Hoffmann and Anita Tarzian, academics in medical ethics and health law at the University of Maryland, showed, based on clinical data and sociological research collected since the 1970s, that women were more likely to be prescribed sedatives and antidepressants than referred to diagnostic tests Chronic Pain Self-Assessment. They attributed this inequality to the fact that female pain is “more emotional and therefore less believable”.

Recently, a Swedish team analyzed research on gender and pain published in the US, UK and Europe since 2001 and concluded that women are still more “psychologized” and “taken less seriously” than men’s pain .

Reports from 2019 and 2020 from two related teams based in Toronto analyzed studies on the treatment of heart disease and depression and found that women received fewer referrals and procedures than men. Women were also more likely to describe poor communication with their doctors. The reports suggested that the development of specific “patient-centered” treatment regimens in treating women, including training clinicians in “active listening” and “asking questions”, may change the dynamics, but there has been little practical research into introducing them Practices.

One ray of hope is the increasing number of female doctors. Women themselves report better outcomes in diagnosis and treatment when they are cared for by female doctors, and female patients are more likely to survive a heart attack if their doctors are female, according to a 2018 report by the National Academy of Sciences. Although the number of men among active US doctors is still higher than that of women, women made up 36.6% of the field in 2019, an 8 percentage point increase from 2007.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

Have you, family or friends seen that health problems are too easily dismissed by women compared to men? Join the conversation below.

Last year, the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of integrating gender differences into medical research. Studies show that women, especially over 55, are more likely to experience persistent post-viral symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, and brain fog. Women also seem to experience more side effects after vaccination, including some that are life-threatening, but the extent and severity of possible risks are not yet understood.

Today, the exact reasons for the gender inequality in the incidence of my disease, SLE, are still largely mysterious, although researchers recognized its prevalence in women more than a century ago. More research is urgently needed to understand how and why confusing chronic and immune-mediated diseases and conditions affect women in far greater numbers, but women also need to be valued more as accurate reporters of their own experiences of pain and illness. Many of the answers lie in the bodies of women and in the stories their bodies have been writing for centuries.

Copyright © 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending