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I am 52 years old and I feel terrible. Iím tired all the time, but I canít sleep at night. I have no energy; I have hot flashes several times a day, night sweats at night, and my memory is shot. Also, I wouldnít care if I never heard the word "sex" again!
I HATE feeling like this and I was considering taking hormones, but I just donít know.
I hear people say that taking hormones for menopause is dangerous, and that hormones are being pushed by greedy pharmaceutical companies and doctors who have their own agendas.
I realize menopause is a "natural event" in the ongoing life of a woman, and people say I should go through it naturally. But, "naturally" for me is leaving me miserable! My menopausal feminist friends say they resent the implication that there is something wrong with them because menopause is defined as "a deficit of hormones".
Help!!! Iím really in conflict about this!
Dear N. K,
First let me tell you that you donít "go through menopause". Menopause happens because your ovaries wear out and stop producing hormones. Once you are in it, you are in it for the rest of your life! (More about that later).
Menopause is a deficiency of hormones. Thatís a fact. We woman are now outliving our reproductive organs. (This is pretty new-only for about 150 years has that been the case). However, it does not imply anything about us as human beings. We are not deficient. We are beautiful mature marvelous works of art, who have much to offer and a lot of living and loving yet to do!
That comment about the use of hormones as a conspiracy to control us women, makes me see red every time I hear it! Interestingly, Iíve not ever heard it from a woman who has felt as badly as you, and who has had relief and her life back because she started taking replacement estrogen!
There are numerous estrogen receptors all throughout a womanís body. Estrogen, being the major female hormone, is involved in the smooth functioning of many of her systems, not just the reproductive one. When the estrogen levels are low, areas like brain, and heart and bone and many others are affected. They donít work as well, and they are vulnerable to disease. The more years you go with low estrogen levels, the more likely the damage to your body. If these levels are not replaced, you are at risk for heart disease, brittle bones, Alzheimerís, colon cancer, stroke and wrinkles. No one wants to live a long life if it is going to be filled with disease and incapacitation!
If you are concerned about breast cancer, some studies show that there is a slight increase in breast cancer if you take hormones over a long period of time. But, to put it in perspective, there is more of an increase if you donít exercise or you have 3 drinks a day.
Also two very important facts you should know are:
For more specific information on breast cancer and hormones
click on the pink ribbon to go to the BREAST CANCER page.
You are feeling terrible now because your estrogen levels are low. Taking estrogen will make you feel better very quickly if you work with your doctor and get the right dosage and product for you. It might take some time to "fine tune", but you should feel a lot better. You need to take progesterone, the other female hormone, too if you still have your uterus, to protect it from cancer. If you have had a hysterectomy (your uterus removed) you do not need the progesterone.
Itís important to know though, even if you donít have the annoying symptoms, you are still at risk for the long-term effects of low estrogen levels, like heart disease, brittle bones and all the others mentioned, especially if there is a family history of any of these diseases.
Hormone replacement therapy is probably something you will want to look at seriously. There are a lot of different products so that you can make good choices for yourself, choices that are based on how you are feeling, what your family risks are for certain conditions, and what is the current thinking based on the most up-to-date research . Itís actually a very exciting time to be a middle-aged woman, as so much is happening in the area of menopause. You are part of a very elite group!
For more information on menopause, refer to the other areas of this website by Dr. Komer.
Wishing you a long and healthy life.
You talk about low self-esteem being epidemic among females, but what about the boys? I am so worried about my 20-year-old son; he seems so unhappy. He says he hates himself and his life. He is withdrawn, spending most of his time in his room. What can we do to help him feel better about himself?
I hear this question a lot lately. At almost every seminar, someone comes to me at the break worried about a son. Something is happening to our young men, which is very worrisome. These late teens, and "20-somethings" are feeling a lot of pressure. Society has changed the rules. Role expectations, uncertain futures, changing role dynamics make many feel as if they are being hammered on all fronts. There seems to be a lot of depression, a lot of anxiety and much anger.
COMMUNICATION is the key. This is hard when he gives those monosyllable answers and does "the disappearing act"! Still, you need to persist at getting him to open up, not by badgering, but by creating an unthreatening, loving and non-judgmental atmosphere to talk to you. Listening is the most important thing you can do, and it will probably be the hardest thing you do. As loving parents we want to jump in and "fix" things. Life for this group is not like it was 20 or 30 years ago when we were at that stage. What you would have done or felt does not necessarily apply anymore, and besides, its his life.
Chronic feelings of low self-worth are often aggravated at this time by a relationship gone bad or the inability to get a good job directly related to interests and education. Successes, small and large, are key to building the sense of self from the inside out. As a parent you can tell him how wonderful, handsome and talented he is, but if it is not part of your sonís own belief system, what you say wonít make the difference.
Just being acknowledged and "listened to" can make a big difference. Your son needs to know that you are proud of him even if his life path is not what think it should be. Donít expect that things will change overnight and he will suddenly become more communicative now that you are making the effort. You canít force it. Be loving; be encouraging. Give him the message that your door is always open. Waiting is hard to do, but eventually your patience and persistence will pay off.
When the low self worth shows itself as mild to moderate depression and anxiety, taking St. Johnís Wort often seems to help without the side effects of antidepressants. It helps to take away the gloom, so that a person can more effectively cope with his life. It takes a few weeks for a noticeable change after starting St. Johnís Wort. It is important to note that if one is taking antidepressants, he should not take St. Johnís Wort at the same time. Also he should consult his physician before making any changes.
If he does choose to take medication at this time, it is even more crucial to persist with communication and support.
Teaching him to recognize and express his feelings may be the single most important gift you give your son.
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Last updated: September 21, 2012