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Women’s Health

Health: Perimenopause: Symptoms can begin long before your periods stop – and it’s impacting women’s mental health

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A senior gynecologist explains the importance of empowering women with perimenopausal symptoms to Abi Jackson.

We’re finally talking more about menopause, but what about perimenopause?

Just like menopause, it can have a significant impact – especially emotionally and mentally. 86% of women said they had mental health problems as a result, according to a new survey from Healthandher.com.

For 58%, low energy and motivation were the main problems, while 53% said they were low mood and depression, along with anxiety (50%), anger, and mood swings (42%). One in ten women even said they had thoughts of suicide, according to a survey of 2,000 British women.

View this post on InstagramA post posted by Dr. Nitu Bajekal MD FRCOG IBLM (@drnitubajekal)

So what do women need to know? We worked with leading gynecologist Dr. Nitu Bajekal (nitubajekal.com) spoken to learn more …

What is perimenopause?

Menopause, in general, is when your periods stop and you haven’t had a period for 12 consecutive months. It’s a natural part of aging that occurs when estrogen levels drop, but it can cause a variety of physical and mental symptoms that can range from mild to debilitating. “The median age for menopause is between 45 and 55 years old, with most going through menopause around 51,” says Dr. Bajekal (although some may experience it even earlier).

“Perimenopause means ‘menopause in transition’. It is the time that leads to a complete missed period. This usually takes about four years but can take anywhere from two to eight years 45, some women with perimenopause can have symptoms by their late 30s, and many people don’t know it. ”

What are the signs of perimenopause?

The symptoms are basically the same as during menopause – such as hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, decreased sex drive, depression, anxiety, and just not feeling like yourself. Some people experience things like brain fog and difficulty concentrating. With perimenopause, Dr. However, Bajekal states that the symptoms can “increase and decrease” and your periods become irregular for a few months and then return to normal for a while.

This up and down pattern can amplify the mental health effects: “Sometimes you may think you’re going crazy for having symptoms for two or three months, but then you don’t, your hormone levels are fluctuating. ‘Did I imagine that? Is that really happening? ‘”

Why is perimenopause awareness important?

Dr. Bajekal agrees that there is “a lack of awareness” among women themselves and sometimes health professionals. This means that women may not just miss out on treatments and advice that might help them. Not knowing exactly what is going on can make the problems worse. “Empowering women with knowledge is the key, because once you know something, you are not afraid of it,” says Bajekal. “You don’t think too much, your brain doesn’t go into overdrive and think, ‘Oh God, what’s wrong with me? Do I need antidepressants, why sometimes don’t I feel like doing something, why do I feel a little bit? removed from my relationship? ‘”

Dr. Bajekal says it is important that women do not feel “fobbed off” by their general practitioners. But it’s also important that doctors investigate other possible causes if necessary: ​​”Because people can be depressed, for example. But the point is to be open to the idea that perimenopause also needs the attention it doesn’t. ” [been getting]. ”

How Can Your Doctor Help With Perimenopause?

Tests don’t diagnose perimenopause, Bajekal explains (although some people get tests done to look for other possible causes). However, if you have symptoms that suggest perimenopause and it is adversely affecting you, you can try hormone replacement therapy. Your GP may schedule a try to see if it helps.

What if your doctor just refuses or tells you to come back at 50? Dr. Bajekal recommends asking about someone who has a particular interest in the subject. “In the family doctor group there will be people who have a special interest in things like cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, women’s health and menopause,” she says.

Knowledge is power

As mentioned earlier, Dr. Bajekal that it can be very helpful to have these conversations and have your concerns explained and confirmed. “It’s about becoming more aware of the symptoms and the condition, and then women can decide what they need,” she says. “Do I just need to know more about it so that I feel empowered? Do I need a hormone replacement?

View this post on InstagramA post posted by Dr. Nitu Bajekal MD FRCOG IBLM (@drnitubajekal)

She is also a big advocate of the role of lifestyle, citing diet, sleep, and regular exercise as key. Bajekal says a diet full of plants and whole foods – high in legumes, beans, whole grains, soy, green leafy vegetables, and fruits – is high in fiber, nutrients, and plant-based estrogens. This is great news for health in general and for perimenopausal support to help balance hormones and inflammation.

“And stress,” says Bajekal. “Identify your sources of stress and find ways to deal with it, whether it be through breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, walking with a friend. Avoid alcohol, excessive caffeine, and smoking; all of these can make menopause and perimenopause worse. Whether you use medication ingestion or not, “she adds,” the lifestyle should always be there – the diet, exercise, laughing with friends, and taking care of your sanity. ”

Never ignore red flags

Dr. Bajekal’s last advice? Even if you are pretty sure that you are in perimenopause, never ignore any gynecological changes that may need more thorough investigation and stay up to date with swab tests. “I see it every day, patients who have been told, ‘Don’t worry, you have heavy periods because you are going through menopause.’ No – it’s not normal. If you have heavy periods, very irregular periods, new pain in your period, you shouldn’t ignore it. And if you have pain or bleeding after sex, make sure this is investigated. ” It could be nothing, or something else – possibly serious – could happen. The review of things will either put you at ease or make sure you are dealt with quickly.

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Women’s Health

Ellen Noble: Fostering inclusivity, opportunity and health awareness in cycling

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Ellen Noble is stepping down from professional cycling indefinitely to make her health a priority, but she will continue her mission of promoting inclusivity, opportunity and health awareness in the sport.

In an interview with Cyclingnews, Noble said she wanted to provide opportunities for girls and young women through ENCXQuest and Noble Racing Mentorship Program Grant initiatives.

“It is possible to still be inclusive and create community, be it in person or remotely. I love this connection. I didn’t always fit in when I was in school, so it really means having a group of people we can all fit into. ”A lot to me, and I want to keep finding ways to do that. I don’t want to stop doing my initiatives outside of racing and I hope I can do more of them now that I have more time. I intend to stay in the sport even if it’s not on the track, “said Noble.

Noble has ongoing health problems after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease in 2018, an autoimmune disease that affects thyroid function.

Noble told Cyclingnews that it took some time to find ways to relieve her symptoms through visits to different doctors, but that she was slowly putting together treatments and lifestyle adjustments that work for her.

“In the last two years since my diagnosis, I’ve had a lot of small wins. Every time you work with someone new, you learn a little and I take small pieces from each practitioner and I slowly build a solid foundation for health, which is my goal, ”said Noble, who uses acupuncture to provide symptom relief has found .

“Practitioners in many circles believe that autoimmune diseases and chronic diseases can be hibernated, they can never be cured, but they can be let dormant. The ultimate goal for me is to put it into hibernation and not struggle with flare-ups. “

Noble said her health was in delicate but good shape when she suffered a fall earlier this year that broke her spine in three places. Although she was now almost completely healed, the injury opened a void in her health that was difficult to fill.

“I still have back pain, my back is healed, but it didn’t just go away. I don’t think injuries, be it a broken bone or illness, aren’t always linear, ”she said.

“I think this is how my autoimmune disease changed after I broke my back. When I broke my back in April, I was doing pretty well. I felt healthy, my symptoms were regulated, and I felt pretty good. I just wasn’t in my best shape and my results weren’t great, but I felt good.

“That was a bridge too far for me. My health was still fragile and the physical trauma of breaking my back shook my health as we were in a delicate balancing act. I came back and rode and worked at the gym and then hit a wall in August. Physically I couldn’t anymore and my nervous system was at its limit. “

Noble hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a return to professional racing; However, she has not set a schedule for her sabbatical. Instead, it focuses on other goals within the sport that offer rewards beyond performance and results.

“I’m still trying to find out everything. I take my time and I feel like this is a great opportunity for me and I feel grateful in this room where I can do something new. I still want to be involved in the sport because I love cycling, I love bikes and most of all I love what bikes can do for people, from racing to commuting to rides around your neighborhood with friends of kids. I want to pass this message on. I also think bikes are a great platform to talk about physical and mental health, ”said Noble.

Connection and acceptance

Noble launched ENCXQuest in 2017, which accommodates 12 to 18 girls and young women ages 15 to 23 to experience an all-women cycling camp that includes training, technique building, yoga, and education on nutrition, sponsorship, and the sport in general.

“The camp started as an answer to my question: What did I want and need in sports when I was 15? When I was in high school, sport opportunities were lacking for women my age. There were many junior camps and, despite my requests, I was never admitted. When there weren’t any options for the next generation, I decided to do it myself, “said Noble.

Camp has been postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19, but Noble is preparing to host its fourth edition in 2022. Noble stated that ENCXQuest relies on donations and industry partners. It’s also an application-based program that offers places for women of all backgrounds, whether they can afford it or not.

“We want to make sure that the athletes who are eligible for the camp regardless of their financial status can participate. I’m delighted that space has been created for these athletes that might otherwise not have been created, ”said Noble.

“People are very supportive and so we can operate through donations from very generous people who also have the mission to get more girls and young women on bikes and to create a space for young women to have fellowship. Yes, it’s about bikes, but it’s also about 12 to 18 girls who spend the week together and find that having more women in your circle is pretty cool. “

While the ENCXQuest took a break due to Covid-19, Noble launched a virtual platform in 2021 to create opportunities for women in cycling. The Noble Racing Mentorship Program Grant Fundraiser is an attempt to support and mentor the next generation of young women in cycling. It offers seven athletes monthly group and one-on-one meetings, as well as financial grants to cover their entry fees, travel expenses, and coaching.

Noble wants to continue both initiatives while finding new ways to promote inclusion and opportunities for women in cycling.

When asked where she sees herself in the future in sport, especially in terms of her initiatives, Noble said, “I don’t think I’m alone in this, but I hope the sport continues. We see these little advances in different areas. We’re seeing more colored riders in the results, on the start lists and on the podium and it’s amazing. The same goes for transporters. Seeing acceptance grow wider, which is amazing to see, has been my mission since the beginning of the quest to promote that inclusivity.

“I hope more people understand that bikes are powerful and can change lives. The more people from all backgrounds – no matter where you come from or who you are – the more people we can bring on bikes mission. If you have love in your heart and want to ride a bike then you are friends of mine. It’s a great way to connect. “

Noble will take the time it takes to get better and one day we may see her at the highest level of racing again, but even if we don’t she’s sure she has a place in cycling .

“My comeback to cycling is not guaranteed. I won’t be racing again if I don’t fix my health, but my goal is to fix that and if I can I’ll be back at the track. Anyway, I’m not done with cycling yet, “said Noble.

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Women’s Health

New York electeds rally around Planned Parenthood, assure NYC as safe haven for abortion seekers

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As the right to abortion is threatened in states across the country, elected officials from New York gathered in Lower Manhattan on Monday to discuss planned parenting.

With abortion fast becoming one of the most controversial issues of the year and fear of losing the right to vote, a bevy of city and state officials assure New Yorkers that they will not lose access to these health services.

While touring Planned Parenthood at 26 Bleecker Street, Congressman Carolyn Maloney, Senator Brian Kavanagh, councilor Carlina Rivera, famous journalist and activist Gloria Steinem, and more brought the facility’s importance to the fore today more than ever. Maloney said the site is already seeing an influx of patients from overseas.

Congressman Carolyn Maloney. Photo by Dean Moses

“We just visited Planned Parenthood and they are already telling us that people are flying in from Texas for treatment. I am so proud that Planned Parenthood is in the district I represent and that it does such a good and wonderful job helping women and girls, ”said Maloney.

“Reproduction rights are no longer chopped off. They were thrown away the entire time I was in Congress. Vote here and vote there. They no longer scratch our rights. They ram them into the ground, ”she added.

That influx coincides with the case of the Dobbs Supreme Court over the 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi, the ongoing litigation over the six-week abortion ban in Texas, and efforts to escalate denials of health care, including abortion and contraception. In the Dobbs v Jackson case, the state of Mississippi argues that the power to regulate abortions should be a state issue, not a state issue. As the court battle continues with a verdict due by the summer of this year, 21 states are on the verge of making abortions illegal or extremely difficult due to strict guidelines such as the “Heartbeat Laws”.

Chair of the Oversight and Reform Committee alongside her work in Congress, Maloney is pushing for a five-part plan to tackle the attack on women’s rights. Citing discussions she had with incestants aged 10 and over who became pregnant, she called abortion abolition “cruel” and “inhuman”.

Maloney’s initiative sees the constitutional change in equality through the passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would establish a legal right to abortion across the country while cracking down on contraceptive restrictions.

Gloria Steinem is all too familiar with this fight. Steinem, who fought for women’s rights for decades, called this latest controversy an attack on democracy.

Journalist and activist Gloria Steinem. Photo by Dean Moses

“If we cannot control ourselves, there is no democracy. When Hitler was elected and he was elected, the first thing he did the very next day was padlock the family planning clinics and declare abortion a crime against the state. Mussolini did the same. Dictators know that they have to control reproduction, ”Steinem said.

While this is extremely worrying for those living in the affected states, many in attendance reassured New Yorkers as well.

“New Yorkers need to know that their right to abortion is safe here in this state. Regardless of what happens in the Supreme Court, ”said Sonia Ossorio, President of NOW-NYC.

Tiffany Caban. Photo by Dean Moses

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Gynaecologist busts some common PCOS myths

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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) has become one of the most common hormonal problems in women today. Recent data shows that at least three in ten women are diagnosed with it, and six in ten women diagnosed are teenagers, said Dr. Vaishali Joshi, Senior Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Kokilaben Ambani Hospital.

“PCOS is a disease of civilization that has problems like irregular periods, scant menstrual flow, acne, excessive body hair, weight gain, darkening of the skin, along with polycystic bulky ovaries (PCOD) on sonography and hormonal imbalance including high insulin resistance and excess male hormones, “she said.

The following should be noted with PCOS (Photo: Getty / Thinkstock)

“Many young women are mistakenly diagnosed with PCOD instead of PCOS because some symptoms are similar. Hence, there are many myths and facts surrounding PCOS too, ”she added.

* PCOS only occurs in young women in their early twenties or thirties: PCOS can occur at any time between the ages of 18 and the age of perimenopause.

* All women with PCOS have PCOD: Polycystic Ovaries found in 20 percent of healthy women. At the same time, not all women with PCOS necessarily have PCOD ovaries on sonography.

* PCOD ovaries cause abdominal pain: PCOD ovaries are small (<10 mm) large water sacs (cysts) and are arranged around the periphery of the ovary in a pearl necklace pattern. They don't cause pain or discomfort. The ovarian cysts that cause pain are at least 3 cm in size and are not found in PCOD.

* Irregular periods and poor period flow lead to weight gain and PCOS: Culturally, menstruation has been viewed as a process by which unhealthy blood is thrown from a woman’s body. Skipping periods or decreased flow is believed to prevent this process and lead to the accumulation of fat and obesity. Unfortunately it’s the other way around. The weight gain leads to a hormonal imbalance and therefore an irregularity in the periods and development of PCOSsaid Dr. Joshi.

* PCOS only occurs in overweight women: women with acquired PCOS gain weight from poor lifestyle choices. Almost 80-85 percent of PCOS women are overweight. However, PCOS can occur in women of normal body weight, especially those with a family history.

* All women with irregular periods have PCOS: Period irregularities can also occur with thyroid diseases, hyperprolactinemia, eating disorders, low hormonal levels induced by overuse, especially in long distance runners.

* Acne is always due to PCOS: acne or pimples on the face can have several causes. PCOS is one of them. The most common are skin problems, allergies, or dandruff.

* Women with PCOS have difficulty getting pregnant: PCOS causes anovulation, which means stopping an egg from being released every month, but does not stop it completely. Women with PCOS have inconsistent and delayed ovulation but can get pregnant naturally. Most of the time, having missed periods makes them unaware that they are pregnant, said Dr. Joshi.

* Drugs Can Cure PCOS: Drugs are usually used to treat the symptoms of PCOS, depending on the treatment needed, such as infertility or regular menstruation. These treatments do not address the cause and therefore are not curative drugs. PCOS is a disease of civilization and the cure is achieved through regular exercise, diet changes and weight loss.

* Losing weight can cure PCOS completely: Unfortunately, PCOS is a lifelong disease. A Weight loss of at least 10 percent leads to an improvement in symptoms by reducing hyperinsulinemia and excess male hormones. One has to continue with lifestyle measures and weight loss should be maintained.

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