A Cup of Coffee – I’m baaaackk

I’ve returned from my hip replacement surgery and am excited to get back into the swing of things! I hope this blog finds you all well.

This week, we are going to talk about women’s menstrual cycles. Photo credit: Care Health Insurance

How many of you have had issues with being over 40 and suddenly gaining weight, or being unable to sleep at night, or (gasp) finding chin hairs dangling down to your shoulders? I get it. Let’s see what these symptoms may or may not mean.


Let’s start with this disclaimer: Any prolonged medical symptoms need to be addressed by your physician. I cannot and will not be able to address all that you could be experiencing in one 1,500-word blog. You may be having symptoms of things that have nothing to do with what this week’s blog is about, so PLEASE hear me when I say, “Check with your doctor”.

Could it be menopause?

Could all the things you are experiencing be related to menopause? Absolutely. Most women don’t know that our hormones start fluctuating long before “M-Day”. The Cleveland Clinic states “Menopause can happen when a person is in their 20s, 30s, or 40s. Premature menopause describes menopause that occurs any time before age 40. It’s rare for menopause to happen before age 30. Early menopause (menopause before 45) occurs in about 5% of women. Premature menopause (menopause before 40) happens in about 1% of women. It’s rare to experience menopause in your 20s. This happens in about 0.1% of people Assigned Female At Birth”.

So here we are (for most of us)

For most of us, we will see the end of an era around the age of 45. That’s when the fun begins, right? Well…maybe. First, we have to navigate the side effects of our production line shutting down. As we start to see our monthly cycles slow down and taper off, we also start to see the following symptoms:

  • Hot flashes (sudden warmth that spreads over your body).
  • Night sweats.
  • Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex.
  • Frequent urge to pee.
  • More frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs).
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
  • Emotional changes (irritability, mood swings, depression, or anxiety).
  • Dry skin, dry eyes, or dry mouth.
  • Breast tenderness.
  • Racing heart.
  • Headaches.
  • Joint and muscle aches and pains.
  • Changes in your sex drive (libido).
  • Difficulty concentrating or being more forgetful.
  • Weight gain or weight loss.
  • Hair loss or thinning.
  • Facial hair


Unfortunately, many of us will only be giving our PCPs the symptoms as they irritate us. For example, if one of the symptoms is a racing heart, we may go to our doctor to talk about our concern, and after ruling out heart issues, we then move on to the anxiety diagnosis, when in fact, it may be menopause.

If we would walk in and give our doctors the entire list of what we are experiencing, then our doctors would probably still want to rule out the bad stuff but would be able to draw a conclusion after rule outs that we were going through our change of life. So I said all of that to say this: tell them everything, not just one thing. I know it makes you feel like you are overwhelming them with symptoms, but they can’t fix what they cannot identify.


If you’ve ever watched That 70s Show, you’ll know what I mean. People often associate a hysterical female with menopause. In some cases, this may be true, but certainly not in all cases. After looking at the list of symptoms, I assure you that it’s normal to become irritated during this time. Who wouldn’t be? You can’t sleep, you ache all over, you are getting facial hair, and nobody can begin to understand the infernal heat you feel at the most inconvenient times, right?

Hot Flashes

The Mayo Clinic will help you understand a bit about hot flashes.

“During a hot flash, you might have:

  • A sudden feeling of warmth spreads through your chest, neck, and face
  • A flushed appearance with red, blotchy skin
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Perspiration, mostly on your upper body
  • A chilled feeling as the hot flash lets up
  • Feelings of anxiety

The frequency and intensity of hot flashes vary among women. A single episode may last a minute or two — or as long as 5 minutes.

Hot flashes may be mild or so intense that they disrupt daily activities. They can happen at any time of day or night. Nighttime hot flashes (night sweats) may wake you from sleep and can cause long-term sleep disruptions.

How often hot flashes occur varies among women, but most women who report having hot flashes experience them daily. On average, hot flash symptoms persist for more than seven years. Some women have them for more than 10 years.”

OK, That’s the clinical explanation, but…

Let me help those of you out who haven’t had the experience of the almighty hot flash. Thankfully, I only had a handful of them when it was my time in the proverbial sun, but that was enough for me to tell you with all confidence that you feel as though you want to rip your skin off and apply a fan directly to your innards, all while screaming like you’re on fire because, well, it feels like you ARE, and pushing everyone and everything away from you in order to get relief. This can include your clothes, your bedsheets, your pets, and your significant other. There are no rules. It’s Mad Max warfare when a flash hits. May the odds be ever in your favor.

So how do I know if there’s light at the end of the tunnel?

There are several things to look for that may indicate you’ve reached the end of your journey and are coming out the other side.

You could be seeing an end to your menopause if:

  1. No menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months.
  2. Your mood swings and irritability have improved.
  3. Your hot flashes and night sweats have resolved.
  4. Vaginal dryness and itching have improved.
  5. Decreased frequency of urination.
  6. Reduced breast tenderness.
  7. Improved concentration.
  8. Less facial hair and body hair growth.
  9. Improved energy levels.
  10. No more menstrual cramps or PMS.
  11. Increased libido.
  12. Your dry hair starts to soften back up again.
  13. Decreased muscle mass and increased body fat. (I know…bummer).
  14. Less joint and muscle pain.
  15. Improved sleep quality.
  16. Improved memory.
  17. Less fatigue.
  18. Your life starts to feel more balanced.
  19. Improved overall health. Many women find their immune system improves.
  20. Improved relationships (for obvious reasons).
  21. Motivation is higher.
  22. There’s less confusion.
  23. Decreased anxiety.
  24. Dry skin issues resolve.
  25. Less urinary tract infections.
  26. Less urinary incontinence. As your muscles strengthen, so do your pelvic floor muscles.
  27. Decreased palpitations.
  28. Decreased headaches.

Is there anything I need to know about the health effects of menopause?

Yes. There are actually several things we need to be mindful of as we head into the twilight of our reproductive years.

Bone Health

Healthline reports “The decline in estrogen production can affect the amount of calcium in your bones. This can cause significant decreases in bone density, leading to a condition known as osteoporosis. It can also make you more susceptible to hip, spine, and other bone fractures. Many women experience accelerated bone loss in the first few years after their last menstrual period.

To keep your bones healthy:

  • Eat foods with lots of calcium, such as dairy products or dark leafy greens.
  • Take vitamin D supplements.
  • Exercise regularly and include weight training in your exercise routine.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption.
  • Avoid smoking.

There are prescription medications you may want to discuss with your doctor to prevent bone loss as well.”

Heart Disease and weight gain

“Changes in your hormone levels may cause you to gain weight. However, aging can also contribute to weight gain.

Focus on maintaining a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and practicing other healthy habits to help control your weight. Being overweight can increase your risk for heart diseasediabetes, and other conditions.”

At the end of the day

“Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s life cycle. It’s a time when your estrogen and progesterone levels decrease. Following menopause, your risk for certain conditions like osteoporosis or cardiovascular disease may increase.

To manage your symptoms, maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise to avoid unnecessary weight gain.

You should contact your doctor if you experience adverse symptoms that affect your ability to function, or if you notice anything unusual that might require a closer look. There are plenty of treatment options to help with symptoms like hot flashes.

Check in with your doctor during regular gynecological exams as you experience menopause.”


As always, this blog is not a replacement for sound medical advice. I am not a doctor. Please make an appointment to see your healthcare provider and put a good plan in place that works for you and the needs of your body.

That’s all I have for you this week, dear reader. I’ll see you back here next Wednesday to share another cup of coffee. Until then, be good to yourself and each other.

Mind, Body, Spirit…Osteopathic Doctors treat the whole person, not just the ailment. Is your PCP a DO? Would you like to learn more about Osteopathic Physicians? Click HERE!

1 Comment

  1. Get your calcium from greens and legumes…
    See what the Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine says about dairy….
    “Milk and other dairy products are the top source of saturated fat in the American diet, contributing to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have also linked dairy to an increased risk of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers.

    Saturated Fat and Heart Disease

    Milk and other dairy products are the top sources of artery-clogging saturated fat in the American diet. Milk products also contain cholesterol. Diets high in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease, which remains America’s top killer. Cheese is especially dangerous. Typical cheeses are 70 percent fat.

    Lactose Intolerance

    Infants and children produce enzymes that break down lactose, the sugar found in breast milk and cow’s milk, but as we grow up, many of us lose this capacity. Lactose intolerance is common, affecting about 95 percent of Asian Americans, 74 percent of Native Americans, 70 percent of African Americans, 53 percent of Mexican Americans, and 15 percent of Caucasians. Symptoms include upset stomach, diarrhea, and gas.

    Bone Health

    Research shows that dairy products have little or no benefit for bone health. According to an analysis published in the British Medical Journal, most studies fail to show any link between dairy intake and broken bones, or fractures. In one study, researchers tracked the diets, exercise, and stress fracture rates of adolescent girls and concluded that dairy products and calcium do not prevent stress fractures. Another study of more than 96,000 people found that the more milk men consumed as teenagers, the more bone fractures they experienced as adults. Learn about how to build strong bones on a plant-based diet.


    Research has linked the high fat content and hormones in milk, cheese, and other dairy products to breast cancer.

    One study of nearly 10,000 women found that those who consume low-fat diets have a 23% lower risk for breast cancer recurrence. They also have a 17% lower risk of dying from the disease.

    A 2017 study funded by the National Cancer Institute that compared the diets of women diagnosed with breast cancer to those without breast cancer found that those who consumed the most American, cheddar, and cream cheeses had a 53% higher risk for breast cancer.

    The Life After Cancer Epidemiology study found that, among women previously diagnosed with breast cancer, those consuming one or more servings of high-fat dairy products (e.g., cheese, ice cream, whole milk) daily had a 49% higher breast cancer mortality, compared with those consuming less than one-half serving daily.

    Research funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, and the World Cancer Research Fund, found that women who consumed 1/4 to 1/3 cup of cow’s milk per day had a 30% increased chance for breast cancer. One cup per day increased the risk by 50%, and 2-3 cups were associated with an 80% increased chance of breast cancer. But the study cites research showing that vegans, but not lacto-ovo-vegetarians, experience less breast cancer than nonvegetarians.

    Regular consumption of dairy products has also been linked to prostate cancer.

    High intakes of dairy products including whole and low-fat milk increase the risk for prostate cancer, according to a meta-analysis that looked at 32 studies. In another study, men who consumed three or more servings of dairy products a day had a 141% higher risk for death due to prostate cancer compared to those who consumed less than one serving.

    But avoiding dairy products and eating a more plant-based diet may help protect the prostate. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that men who followed a vegan diet had a 35% lower prostate cancer risk than those following a nonvegetarian, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, or semi-vegetarian diet.

    Health Concerns About Dairy Fact Sheet

    Many Americans, including some vegetarians, still consume substantial amounts of dairy products. And government policies still promote these products, despite scientific evidence that questions their health benefits and indicates their potential health risks. Though dairy is marketed as an essential food for strong bones, there is more to the story. Some important things to consider include potential health problems like heart disease, certain cancers, digestive problems, and type 1 diabetes.”

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