Coping With Menopause Part:1

Nearly a third of all American women are between the ages of 40 and 60.

They are your wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters.

Moreover, they are part of the baby boom generation.

Better educated than any generation before them, doctors say they are asking questions and they want answers.

Whatever middle age meant before, baby boomers are redefining it as they "cope with menopause."

While the baby boom culture of openness is changing, the face of menopause is still not comfortable talking openly about their symptoms.

A 52 year old woman, who shall be referred to as “Cathy”, is among the group of American women affected by menopause.

"First my periods were irregular, some mood swings and then stopping having periods," said Cathy.

Chris Wukovics is 58-years-old and is one of the boomers willing to talk about what many women call "the change of life."

"It started when I was approximately 45 and I had some bleeding issues that ended up in an emergency D and C," Wukovics said.

Dr. Ilana Kirsch talks to women about menopause every day.

Nearly a third of all American women between the ages of 40 and 60 are heading into, or have already reached, menopause.

That's more than 37-million women.

According to Kirsch, "The definition of menopause is lack of period for twelve: so you don't know you're completely menopausal until you've not had a period for a full twelve months."

But many women will tell you, the symptoms start long before that.

"For several years, usually five years before menopause many, if not most women, have symptoms of menopause and the biggest one they are aware of is hot flashes," said Kirsch.

“It was bad. It was probably every hour. During the day I would have a hot flash," Cathy recalled.

Moreover," it just starts almost from your inner core, you get flushed and you get sweaty and you just want to run away from yourself," Cathy added.

Every woman is different and for Chris the hot flashes were not so bad.

"I would stick my feet out from under the covers and they would go away," said Chris.

What didn't go away for six months, however, was a noticeable mood change that affected her family life.

"My youngest daughter and I had some issues that stemmed, I’m sure, from my irrationally behavior. I regret that, but it's something that I can't take back," she said.

Chris added, "I reacted irrationally to things that I normally would be very rational about."

According to Dr. Kirsch, lack of sleep is the main culprit behind many menopausal symptoms.

"When you get right down to it, it's from a lack of sleep. If you can get somebody to sleep at night and have those night sweats, it will fix some of those daytime mood and concentration problems," Dr. Kirsch advised.

Cathy suffered through three months of hot flashes and little sleep.

She did not want to take hormones, however, her symptoms were so severe she and her doctor decided she needed them.

On the other hand, Chris decided against hormones and says her husband helped her through a rough six months of mood swings.

"We have a pretty strong relationship and he's a pretty great guy and is able to roll with the punches," said Chris.

Thursday night at 11, Newscenter 16 will take a closer look at coping with menopause.

A 2002 study by the Women's Health Initiative frightened a lot of women who quit taking hormones for fear of getting cancer or having a heart attack or stroke.

On Thursday, Newscenter 16 will also look at hormone therapy, natural therapies and also lifestyle changes that are helping women get through this new "prime" of their lives.

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