<div class=media-desc><strong>Menopause</strong><p>You're a woman nearing middle age. It's that time in your life when your periods are starting to stop and your body is going through changes. You may be starting to have hot flashes that you've heard about before. Could menopause be around the corner?

So, what is menopause?
Menopause typically happens to women somewhere around the ages of 45 to 55. During menopause, your ovaries stop making eggs and produce less estrogen and progesterone, hormones that play a vital role in pregnancy and how your body uses calcium and maintains healthy cholesterol levels, among other things. Changes in these hormones cause menopause symptoms. You will often begin having fewer periods, and eventually they stop. 

Menopause is complete when you have not had a period for over a year. Women who are post-menopausal can no longer get pregnant without a donor egg. 

Symptoms can vary from woman to woman. And these symptoms may last 5 or more years. Also, some women have worse symptoms than others. 

The first thing you may notice is that your periods start to change. They might occur more often or less often. Some women get their period every 3 weeks during menopause. These changes may last several years before periods completely stop.

Other common symptoms include your heart pounding or racing, hot flashes, night sweats, skin flushing, and problems sleeping. You may have a decreased interest in sex, develop forgetfulness, have headaches, and suffer from mood swings, and have vaginal dryness and painful sexual intercourse.

Treatment for menopause depends on many things, including how bad your symptoms are, your overall health, and your preference. It may include lifestyle changes or hormone therapy.

Hormone therapy may help if you have severe hot flashes, night sweats, mood problems, or vaginal dryness. Hormone therapy is treatment with estrogen and, sometimes, progesterone. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of hormone therapy. Hormone therapy may increase your risk of developing breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots. Topical hormone therapy has some of the benefits and fewer of the risks.

Your doctor can tell you about other options besides taking hormones, including antidepressants, a blood pressure medicine called clonidine, and Gabapentin, a seizure drug that can help reduce hot flashes.

Lifestyle changes may help in reducing your menopause symptoms, though it's not been proven. You might consider trying to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and certain spicy foods. Or to try eating soy foods and other legumes, because they contain fitoestrogens. You'll want to remember to get plenty of calcium and vitamin D in your food or supplements, and plenty of exercise especially during this time. Consider Kegel exercises every day to strengthen the muscles of the vagina and pelvis. Practice slow, deep breathing if you feel a hot flash coming on. Yoga, tai chi, or meditation may also helpful.

After menopause, you may be at risk for bone loss, higher cholesterol, and heart disease, so make sure you work with your doctor to manage or even prevent these problems.</p></div><div class=media-desc><strong>Causes of breast lumps</strong><p>Most breast lumps are benign (non-cancerous), as in fibroadenoma, a condition that mostly affects women under age 30. Fibrocystic breast changes occur in more than 60% of all women. Fibrocystic breast cysts change in size with the menstrual cycle, whereas a lump from fibroadenoma does not. While most breast lumps are benign, it is important to identify those that are not. See your health care provider if a lump is new, persistent, growing, hard, immobile, or causing skin deformities. </p></div><div class=media-desc><strong>Breast engorgement</strong><p>Breast engorgement can be painful for nuring mothers. Learn the causes of breast engorgement, how to prevent it, and what to do if it happens.</p></div><div class=media-desc><strong>Abnormal menstrual periods</strong><p>Abnormal menstrual periods may have a variety of causes, such as endometrial hyperplasia, endometrial polyps, uterine fibroids, and abnormal thyroid or pituitary function.The endometrium is the tissue lining the uterus. When the endometrium becomes unusually thick it is called endometrial hyperplasia. Hyperplasia may cause profuse or extended menstrual bleeding.</p></div><div class=media-desc><strong>Osteoporosis</strong><p>If you've ever watched an apartment or office building under construction, you've seen the metal scaffolding that keeps the building standing upright. Inside your body, bones are the scaffolding that keep you standing upright. As you get older, these supports can weaken. And if they get too weak, you could wind up with a fracture. Let's talk about the bone-thinning condition called osteoporosis. Your internal scaffolding was built when you were young. Calcium and other minerals helped strengthen your bones, provided that you got enough of them from your diet. As you get older, those minerals can start to leech out of your bones, leaving them brittle, fragile, and easily breakable, a condition known as osteoporosis. Women over 50 are especially at risk for osteoporosis because during menopause they lose estrogen, which helps to keep bones strong. The tricky part about osteoporosis is that it's hard to tell you have it. You may not have any symptoms until you've already fractured a bone. Getting a bone density scan, which measures bone thickness, is one way to find out whether you have osteoporosis so you can start treatment right away if you need it. To keep your bones strong, try to get at least 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily, paired with 1,000 international units of vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium. You can eat foods that are high in these nutrients, like frozen yogurt, salmon, and low-fat milk, or, if you're not a big fan of fish or dairy, you can take supplements. Weight bearing exercise is also your ally when it comes to strengthening bones. A combination of weight bearing exercises like walking or playing tennis, plus strength training and balance exercises will reduce your risk of getting a fracture if you fall. You will want to get at least thirty minutes of exercise three times a week to see the benefits. And, stop smoking. Cigarette smoke both accelerates bone loss and blocks treatments from being as affective. If you've been diagnosed with osteoporosis, your doctor may recommend drugs called bisphosphonates to prevent further bone damage. Other medicines, including calcitonin, parathyroid hormone, and raloxifene are also treatment options. Don't let bone loss get so far along that you could have a disabling fracture from a minor fall. Start strengthening your bones with diet and exercise while you're still young. As you get older, talk to your doctor about bone density scans, and ask whether you need to take medicine if you're at risk for, or are starting to show signs of osteoporosis. And if your bones aren't as strong as they used to be, avoid falls by wearing shoes that fit well, and clearing clutter on the floor before it can trip you up, and bring you down.</p></div><div class=media-desc><strong>Endometriosis</strong><p>Endometriosis is the condition in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus (endometrium) grows on other areas of the body causing pain and irregular bleeding.</p></div><div class=media-desc><strong>Hyperthyroidism</strong><p>You're restless and nervous. You feel hungry all the time, but no matter how much you eat, you keep losing weight. You can't sleep or concentrate, and you feel hot and sweaty. If symptoms like these are putting you on edge, the problem may be an overactive thyroid gland, or hyperthyroidism. 

This little butterfly-shaped structure in your neck is your thyroid gland. It's job is to release the hormones that help control your body's energy levels, a process known as metabolism. When you have hyperthyroidism, that little gland goes into overdrive, releasing too much of its hormones. Having too much thyroid hormone is like putting your body in fast forward, everything speeds up. That's why you feel shaky, hungry, and your heart feels like it's pounding.

So, what causes hyperthyroidism?
You can develop an overactive thyroid because you've gotten too much iodine, an element the thyroid uses to make its hormones. Or, you might have a growth on your thyroid that's causing the excess hormone production. But many people with hyperthyroidism have an autoimmune disorder called Graves disease, which also makes their eyes bulge out.

During an exam, your doctor may notice that your thyroid is larger than normal, and that you have high blood pressure, tremors, or a fast heart rate. These can all be signs of hypothyroidism. You'll probably have a blood test to check the levels of your thyroid hormones.

If you do have an overactive thyroid, you may need to take medicine to slow down the gland and its hormone production. Or, your doctor may suggest having surgery to remove some or all of the thyroid, or taking radioactive iodine to destroy it. If you have surgery or radioactive iodine treatment, you'll probably need to take thyroid hormones for the rest of your life to replace the ones your body can no longer make.

You can't prevent hyperthyroidism, but once you have it, it's usually pretty easy to treat. With the right treatment you can finally be free from its symptoms. 

While you're being treated, watch out for an emergency condition called thyroid crisis, or thyroid storm, which can set in if you've been under a lot of stress or have an infection. If you have a fever, fast and unsteady heartbeat, or you feel less alert than usual, call your emergency services number or go to the ER right away.</p></div><div class=media-desc><strong>Ovarian cysts</strong><p>Typically, ovarian cysts are functional (not disease-related) and usually disappear on their own within 60 days. Oral contraceptives may be prescribed to help establish normal cycles.</p></div><div class=media-desc><strong>Hypothyroidism</strong><p>The thyroid gland is known as the master gland of the body. It regulates our metabolism, so we don't act slow, like turtles, or fast, like jackrabbits. This gland releases hormones that control many important things, like helping your heart pump blood, stimulating your brain and muscles, and helping you keep your body at a healthy temperature. When you have hypothyroidism, your thyroid gland does not make enough hormone, so you end up feeling a bit slow, and perhaps cold, like the turtle.</p></div><div class=media-desc><strong>Mammogram</strong><p>A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breasts. It is used to find tumors and to help tell the difference between noncancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) disease. One breast at a time is rested on a flat surface that contains the x-ray plate. A device called a compressor is pressed firmly against the breast to help flatten out the breast tissue. Each breast is compressed horizontally,
then obliquely and an x-ray is taken of each position.</p></div><div class=media-desc><strong>Endometriosis</strong><p>A common gynecological problem in women occurs when cells that are supposed to form in the uterus of a woman, attach themselves to tissue in other places of the body, causing pain, irregular bleeding, and problems with getting pregnant, or infertility. Let's talk about endometriosis in a little more detail.

Every month, a woman's ovaries produce hormones that tell the cells lining the uterus, or womb, to swell and thicken. The body removes these extra cells from the womb lining, or endometrium, when you get your period.

But if these cells, called endometrial cells, implant and grow outside the uterus, endometriosis results. The growths are called endometrial tissue implants. Women with endometriosis typically have tissue implants on the ovaries, or bowel, rectum, bladder, or on the lining of the pelvic area. 

We don't know what causes endometriosis. One theory is that the endometrial cells that shed when you get your period travel backwards through the fallopian tubes into the pelvis, where they implant and grow. This is called retrograde menstruation. This backward menstrual flow occurs in many women, but many think the immune system may also be different in women with endometriosis.

Symptoms of endometriosis include painful periods, pain in your lower belly before and during menstruation, cramps before and during menstruation, pain during sex, painful bowel movements, as well as pelvic or lower back pain. 

To treat endometriosis...
The goal of treatment is to improve pelvic pain, reduce pelvic masses, or improve fertility. If you have mild symptoms and do not want to have children, you may choose to have regular exams every 6 to 12 months so your doctor can make sure the disease isn't getting worse.

Treatment options also include pain medicines, hormone medicines to stop the disease from getting worse, or surgery to remove the area of endometriosis or even the entire uterus and ovaries if you have severe pain that does not get better with other treatments.

Hormone therapy doesn't cure endometriosis, but it can relieve some or all of your symptoms. Unfortunately, removal of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and both ovaries may eliminate symptoms, but it also eliminates fertility. A combination of limited surgery and assisted reproduction techniques may improve fertility. So, if you have any questions about endometriosis, please see your doctor.</p></div><div class=media-desc><strong>Fibroid tumors</strong><p>Fibroid tumors may not need to be removed if they are not causing pain, bleeding excessively, or growing rapidly.</p></div><div class=media-desc><strong>Breast cancer</strong><p>Of all the different types of cancers, breast cancer is one of the most talked about, and with good reason. One out of every eight women will develop breast cancer sometime in their life. That's why every woman should be thinking about how to protect herself from this disease.

Breast cancer is cancer that forms in the breast. Usually, it begins in the tubes that transport milk from the breast to the nipple. If the cancer spreads to other parts of the breast or body, it's called invasive breast cancer. Some breast cancers are more aggressive, growing more quickly than others.

Although women are 100 times more likely to develop breast cancer, men can also get the disease because they do have breast tissue. You're more likely to get breast cancer if you're over 50, you started your periods before age 12, or you have a close family member with the disease. Drinking more than a couple of glasses of alcohol a day and using hormone replacement therapy for several years also may increase your risk.

The telltale sign of breast cancer is a lump in your breast or armpit. You may also notice a change in the shape, size, or texture of your breast, or have fluid coming from your nipple when you're not breastfeeding. 

If you notice any changes in your breasts, call your doctor. You'll probably need to have an imaging scan, such as a mammogram, MRI, or ultrasound. A piece of tissue may be removed from your breast, called a biopsy. With these tests, your doctor can tell whether you have breast cancer, and if so, determine whether or not it has spread.

So, how do we treat breast cancer?
That really depends on the type of cancer, and how quickly it's spreading. Your doctor may recommend that you have the cancer removed with surgery. Sometimes it's enough just to remove the lump. That's called a lumpectomy. In other cases, the doctor will need to remove the entire breast to get rid of all the cancer or prevent it from coming back. That's called a mastectomy. 

Other treatments for breast cancer include chemotherapy, medicines that kill cancer cells, and radiation therapy, which uses energy to destroy cancer. Women whose cancer is fueled by the hormone estrogen may receive hormone therapy to block the effects of estrogen on their cancer. 

Today's breast cancer treatments are better than ever. Many women who have breast cancer go on to live long, healthy lives. The outlook really depends on how fast the tumor is growing, and how far it has spread. That's why it's so important to report any changes in your breasts to your doctor as soon as you notice them. Women who are at an especially high risk for breast cancer because of their family history can talk to their doctor about taking medicine or even having surgery to reduce their risk.</p></div><div class=media-desc><strong>Relieving PMS</strong><p>The cause of premenstrual syndrome is not known but severe symptoms have been shown to be responsive to lifestyle changes. Getting exercise several times a week, eating a balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, and reducing or eliminating caffeine and alcohol are some of the changes most often recommended.</p></div><div class=media-desc><strong>Cervical cancer</strong><p>Worldwide, cervical cancer is the third most common type of cancer in women. Luckily, it's much less common in the United States due to women receiving recommended routine Pap smears, the test designed to find cervical cancer sometimes even before abnormal cells turn to cancer. 

Cervical cancer starts in the cells on the surface of the cervix, the lower portion of the uterus. There are two types of cells on the surface of the cervix, squamous and columnar. Most cervical cancers come from these squamous cells.

The cancer usually starts very slowly as a condition called dysplasia. This precancerous condition can be detected by Pap smear and is 100% treatable. Undetected, precancerous changes can develop into cervical cancer and spread to the bladder, intestines, lungs, and liver. It can take years for these precancerous changes to turn into cervical cancer. However, patients with cervical cancer do not usually have problems until the cancer is advanced and has spread.

Most of the time, early cervical cancer has no symptoms. Symptoms of advanced cancer may include back pain, bone fractures, fatigue, heavy vaginal bleeding, urine leakage, leg pain, loss of appetite, and pelvic pain.

If after having a Pap smear, the doctor finds abnormal changes on the cervix, a colposcopy can be ordered. Using a light and a low-powered microscope, the doctor will view the cervix under magnification. The doctor may remove pieces of tissue, called a biopsy, and send the sample to a laboratory for testing. 

If the woman is diagnosed with cervical cancer, the doctor will order more tests to determine how far the cancer has spread. This is called Staging. Treatment will depend on the stage of the cancer, the size and shape of the tumor, the woman's age and general health, and her desire to have children in the future.

Early cervical cancer can be treated with surgery just to remove abnormal tissue, freeze abnormal cells, or burn abnormal tissue. Treatment for more advanced cervical cancer may include radical hysterectomy, removal of the uterus and much of the surrounding tissue, including lymph nodes and the upper part of the vagina. Radiation may be used to treat cancer that has spread beyond the pelvis, or if cancer returns. The woman may also have chemotherapy to kill cancer cells.

Almost all cervical cancers are caused by human papilloma virus, or HPV. This common virus is spread through sexual intercourse. HPV vaccines can prevent infection against the two types of HPV responsible for about 70% of cervical cancer. Practicing safe sex also reduces the risk of getting HPV.

But, keep in mind most women diagnosed with cervical cancer have not had their regular Pap smears. Because Pap smears can find precancerous growths that are 100% treatable, it's very important for women to get Pap smears at regular intervals.</p></div><div class=media-desc><strong>Menopause</strong><p>Menopause is the transition in a woman's life when the ovaries stop releasing eggs, menstrual activity decreases and eventually ceases, and the body decreases the production of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.</p></div><div class=media-desc><strong>Depression</strong><p>If you often feel sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps, you may have depression. Let's talk about depression, and what you can do to get out of your funk. Depression often runs in families. This may be due to your genes, passed down by your parents and grandparents, the behaviors you learn at home, or both. Even if your genetic makeup makes you more likely to develop depression, a stressful or unhappy life event may triggers the depression. Depression can have many causes, including internal factors like genetics, or negative personality. External factors, substance misuse, or trauma and loss. Common triggers include alcohol or drug use, and medical problems long-term pain, cancer or even sleeping problems. Stressful life events, like getting laid off, abuse at home or on the job, neglect, family problems, death of a loved one, or divorce, can send someone spiraling into depression. There are three main types of depression; major depression, atypical depression and dysthymia. To be diagnosed with major depression, you must demonstrate 5 or more of the primary symptoms for at least two weeks. Atypical depression occurs in about a third of patients with depression, with symptoms including overeating, oversleeping, and feeling like you are weighed down. Dysthymia is a milder form of depression that can last for years if not treated. Other forms include the depression that is part of bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, occurring after a woman gives birth, premenstrual dysphoric disorder,  occurring 1 week before a woman's menstrual period and seasonal affective disorder, occurring in both males and females during the fall and winter seasons. No matter what type of depression you have and how severe it is, some self-care steps can help. Get enough sleep if you can, exercise regularly, and follow a healthy, nutritious diet. Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. Get involved in activities that make you happy and spend time with family and friends. If you are religious, talk to a clergy member. Consider meditation, tai chi, or other relaxation methods. If you are depressed for 2 weeks or longer, contact your doctor or other health professional before your symptoms get worse. Treatment will depend on your symptoms. For mild depression, counseling and self-care may be enough. Either psychotherapy or antidepressant medicines may help, but they are often more effective when combined. Vigorous exercise and light therapy could offer significant benefit alone or in combination. Healthy lifestyle habits can help prevent and treat depression, and reduce the chances of it coming back. Talk therapy and antidepressant medication can also make you less likely to become depressed again. In fact, talk therapy may help you through times of grief, stress, or low mood. In general, staying active, making a difference in the life of others, getting outside and keeping in close contact with other people is important for preventing depression.</p></div><div class=media-desc><strong>Female-pattern baldness</strong><p>Female-pattern baldness is a pattern of hair loss (alopecia) caused by hormones, aging and genetics. Unlike male-pattern baldness, female-pattern baldness is an over-all thinning which maintains the normal hairline.</p></div><div class=media-desc><strong>Fibromyalgia</strong><p>Usually when you're in pain, you can quickly find the cause, like the muscle you strained while working out, or the cut you gave yourself while slicing carrots. Yet for people with fibromyalgia, the source of their pain is harder to pinpoint. Although they experience pain daily, it can take some time to find the cause, and to get the right treatment for it.

Fibromyalgia is still somewhat of a mystery, because no one knows what causes it and it's often mistaken for conditions with similar symptoms, like Lyme disease or depression. Some people think fibromyalgia stems from physical or emotional trauma. Others believe it's caused by an abnormal response to pain.

Whatever the cause, fibromyalgia leads to widespread areas of pain on both sides of the body, and both below and above the waist. The pain may feel like an ache, or a sharp stabbing feeling, and it doesn't go away. To be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you need to have physical findings at at least 11 specific tender points, which can be in your arms, buttocks, chest, knees, lower back, neck, rib cage, shoulders, or thighs. Doctors may diagnose fibromyalgia without a tender point examination by using the widespread pain index (WPI), and the symptoms severity scale score (SS). If the symptoms have been present at a similar level for at least 3 months and there is no other disorder that would otherwise explain the pain. The pain may get worse when you exercise, go outside in cold weather, or are under a lot of stress. In addition to pain, you may have problems concentrating or fatigue, and waking up unrefreshed. And you may have any of a long list of other symptoms as well including in the GI tract, urinary system, nervous system, and skin.

There's no cure for fibromyalgia, but there are treatments to control your symptoms. Your doctor will probably start you on an exercise regimen and have you work with a physical therapist. Some have found real help from acupuncture, learning Tai Chi, or taking yoga classes. You may also need to take medicine to help you sleep and relieve your pain. Medicines that are commonly prescribed for fibromyalgia include antidepressants, antiseizure medications, pain relievers, and sleep aids. Meanwhile, talking to a therapist can help you better manage and live with your pain, and deal with any negative thoughts you may have about your condition.

Despite improvements in the way doctors diagnose and treat fibromyalgia, it's still a chronic condition. But by working with your doctor, you can manage the symptoms and learn to live with them, so that you can control your fibromyalgia, rather than the other way around.</p></div><div class=media-desc><strong>Pap smear</strong><p>During a Pap smear, cells from the outside and the canal of the cervix are retrieved by gently scraping the outside of the cervix. The Pap smear is performed to detect cancerous or precancerous conditions of the cervix.</p></div>
Health Library

Health Topics, Symptoms, In-Depth Reports

Bone, Muscle and Joint, Breast, Diet Fitness and Nutrition, Breast pain, more...

Start here

Healthy Lifestyle

Caffeine in the diet, Deep venous thrombosis, Healthy living, Heart disease and diet, more...

Start here

Surgeries, Tests and Treatments

Abdominal ultrasound, Bone mineral density test, Bone x-ray, C-section, more...

Start here

Alternative Medicine

Breat cancer, High blood pressure, Premenstrual syndrome, more...

Start here
Health Assessments

Mimimize your risk

Receive a personalized message to improve your health and lifestyle.

Allergy

Depression

Menopause

Work and Life Balance

Wellness Tools

Resources for better health

A variety of wellness tools to support your journey towards heart health and wellness

Body Mass
Index Calculator

Calorie Burner
Counter Calculator

Desirable Body
Weight Calculator

Target Heart
Rate Calculator