Sleep Apnea in Menopausal Women

Please read this important and informative guest post on sleep apnea in women by Alex Deckard. Better still, have your spouse or mate read it if you suffer from the symptoms and determine if testing might be for you.

Sleep Apnea in Menopausal Women by Alex Dickard

The symptoms of menopause are well known: weight gain, hot flashes, insomnia, night sweats, mood swings, fatigue, migraines. Some people assume slowing down is part of the natural aging process and accept it. Even though our bodies do change as we age, you should be aware that some symptoms related to menopause could be an indication of something more serious.

Symptoms such as irritability, fatigue, and migraines might be from a more dangerous culprit: sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s sleep is interrupted. There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and complex.

Obstructive sleep apnea happens when the upper airway partially or completely collapses during sleep. To catch your breath, your brain sends a signal to slightly wake you up. Central sleep apnea happens when your brain doesn’t send the signal to breathe. Complex sleep apnea is a combination of both.

Everybody knows how languid you feel following a poor night’s rest. Now imagine experiencing that every day!

25 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, but sleep apnea is typically seen as a man’s disease. A 2013 medical study from UCLA found that women are less likely than men to be diagnosed with sleep apnea. In fact, women are more likely to have sleep apnea misdiagnosed with depression, hypertension, and hypochondria. Because women aren’t in as many clinicial trials, doctors don’t recognize sleep apnea symptoms.

Fortunately, a recent study found hot flashes and night sweats may be linked to an increased risk of obstructive sleep apnea in middle-aged woman.

Sleep Apnea in Women
The answer as to why men do not have this problem can be found in the male sex hormone testosterone. Testosterone is known to decrease insulin and increase muscle mass. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect helping to manage stress hormones for men.

While women have some testosterone, they are much more dominant in estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are not known to have a stress managing effect on a woman’s body. Estrogen also has an anti-inflammatory effect — as women move into menopause, estrogen levels tend to drop, making falling asleep a lot more challenging.

It turns out female hormones are likely to play a role in women of that certain age group experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea.

Estrogen and serotonin (one hormone that transmits nerve signals) are directly related. When estrogen is higher in the body, so too is serotonin. When serotonin is lower, due to a drop in estrogen from menopause, the signal from your brain to muscles, including your tongue. When the tongue relaxes, the airway is blocked causing breathing problems. Here lies the complicated relationship between menopause and sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Testing

For a middle-aged woman, it can be difficult to determine if your symptoms are due to sleep apnea or a hormonal imbalance. Most people seek out sleep apnea testing because a loved one notices the stoppages in breathing.

A sleep test is the most effective way to diagnose a sleep apnea. Most people pack their overnight bag and head to the sleep lab. A polysomnogram will detect a wide range of sleep disorders. A sleep test in a laboratory can be expensive (up to $3000), and many people have difficulty sleeping outside of their bed with so many sensors.

Fortunately, a study confirmed that at-home sleep tests are just as effective in diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea. In-home sleep tests costs a fraction of a lab test (around $250), and you can sleep in the comfort of your own bed.

A home sleep test uses a finger probe to measure the blood oxygen level and pulse rate. The device can also measure the patient’s Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI), which is the number of times in one hour an individual experiences a pause in breathing for ten seconds or more. AHI is the primary unit of measurement to determine the severity of sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Treatment
While a cure for obstructive sleep apnea might not be possible, there are different types of sleep apnea treatment. Some lifestyle changes can help such as eating better, abstaining from smoking and alcohol, and losing weight.

There are surgical options that shrink or remove excess soft tissue. Speciality mouth guards move the lower jaw forward to increase the size of the upper airway.

The most common and effective treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP therapy. CPAP or “Continuous Positive Airway Pressure” delivers pressurized air to keep your airway open. Because it reduces the number of apnea episodes, CPAP machines allow you to experience REM sleep.

Undiagnosed sleep apnea creates or exacerbates a host of other health conditions such as: headaches, diabetes, depression, anxiety, heart disease, weakened immune system, and more. Sleep apnea treatment can improve your long term health and your day to day life.

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Book Review: Hot Flashes, Carpools, and Dirty Martinis

I’m guessing that many of you have already downloaded a free copy of Juju Hook’s fabulous midlife book:  Hot Flashes, Carpools, and Dirty Martinis. If you have not yet done this, go right now and get it – you pay only shipping and handling: click here for free copy.

I’ve finally been able to read the whole book – and it’s a treasure. Not only is it uproariously funny, Juju offers brilliant suggestions for making this the best time of your life. I actually learned a few great techniques (whoda thunk it?).

Juju wants us to rock Primetime as she refers to our Second Adulthood. This is the time to tap into a new confident and passionate way of being. Juju helps us remove our self-imposed roadblocks such as the lies of midlife and worry about what others think. This is our midlife guide to a vibrant US! Find out how to celebrate the rest of your life with Hot Flashes, Carpools, and Dirty Martinis.

 

 

 

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THE LIES OF MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN BRAND

We have a special treat for this blog post: amazing Menopause Goddess Juju Hook shares her take on the Middle Aged Woman Brand. Even better, she has written a new book called Hot Flashes, Carpools, and Dirty Martinis. It’s a hilarious, no-holds-barred look at the Pause. Here’s the best news: she is giving away the book to all Menopause Goddess blog readers – all you pay is shipping and handling. And to whet your appetite , the first chapter is enclosed at the end of this post. Link to get your book is also at the end. Enjoy!

THE LIES OF MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN BRAND by Juju Hook
I’ve never once in all my years heard a woman gush, “Oh, my God! I can’t WAIT to be 50!” Have you? It’s such a shame, really. Because midlife is where it’s at. We’re so much better in midlife… at everything.

In fact, I have a theory that if you want something done right—something that’s complicated, that requires multi-tasking, or secrecy, or duct tape—then you call a midlife woman. There’s simply no one else as prepared and qualified as the women in our menopausal posse, is there?

Here’s the thing, though. This all came as an absolute shock to me. That I’d be happy at 50. That I’d love life more than ever. That I’d be thrilled about beginning again in so many ways… that I could finally give myself a chance to be whoever I wanted to be.

Because the whole world told me it was gonna suck.

The world told me I’d be irrelevant. Invisible. Diminished in capacity. Hanging around doing things I felt “meh” about, because my ship had sailed.

And when I walked away from a 25-year-career to write the book I’d always wanted to write, the world fed me more than a handful of lies. The same lies, over and over again. What’s more, when I reached out to other middle-aged women, they were being fed the same sack of lies.

For more than 25 years, I was a brand strategist. And I have never seen a brand more in need of an overhaul than the “middle aged woman” brand. The messaging is off. The unique selling proposition is entirely out of whack.

So I decided to do something about it. To re-brand middle age for women. To tell the truth about how amazing this time should be. To pull the rug out from under the anti-aging industry… the liars, the nay-sayers, and the Chicken Littles. I shined a big fat spotlight on 3 problems and 6 lies that plague us all. That aren’t our fault. And that are easy to overcome, once you see them in the light of day.

In this moment, you have more power and potential than the world wants to give you credit for. But I see you. And I think you’re the bee’s knees.

Join me inside, Hot Flashes, Carpools, and Dirty Martinis: The Quintessential Guide for Turning Midlife into PrimeTime… We’re about to rip some shit up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s Chapter 1:

Hot Flashes, Carpools, and Dirty Martinis_Chapter1

Once again, click here to get your free book: Hot Flashes, Carpools, and Dirty Martinis.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hormone Linked to Menopausal Weight Gain

Finally, we have some promising research into the why of (and hopefully soon, the remedy for) menopausal weight gain. And it doesn’t have to do with calories or lack of exercise or all the other causes postulated up until now. As nearly every menopausal woman knows, dieting and increasing exercise often do little to help with the meno pot. It’s deeply demoralizing and can make one want to just give up.

During perimenopause and menopause, estrogen levels drop but levels of FSH, follicle stimulating hormone, remain high. This mismatch has been associated not only with weight gain but bone loss as well. FSH is the hormone that helps the egg develop and ripen in your ovary just prior to ovulation. These levels drop just after ovulation and increase again prior to the next ovulation.

Just prior to and during menopause, FSH levels remain elevated. Hence the weight gain and weird fat distribution coupled with bone loss.

A new study published in Nature has examined the use of an antibody to block FSH in female mice thrown into menopause when their ovaries were removed. They were fed a high fat diet, yet lost weight, upped their metabolism, and gained bone mass. While this is exciting news, the next step will be to try the experiment in larger animals, then humans. We may be some years away from realizing any benefits from this research but at the very least, we can feel vindicated.

That said, our best bet right now is healthy eating and continuing to move! Weight training with light weights, stretching, and walking will keep us at our optimal fitness level. We can eat less meat, more healthy carbs like quinoa or brown rice, and healthy fats such as almonds, legumes, and avocados. Oh, and a little dark chocolate and wine, just sayin’!

Read more at Medical News Bulletin.

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Finally! Natural Relief for Insomnia

Sweet Dreams © Dewitt Jones

Insomnia wreaks havoc on so many perimenopausal and menopausal women. One woman I met told me that she took HRT just to try to combat it. She said that she felt nearly psychotic from lack of sleep. She didn’t want to take hormone replacement or Ambien, but felt there was no choice. I get it!

Thankfully, my insomnia didn’t last too long. But I know women who are plagued with it still. It’s miserable to be hot, cranky, AND sleepy.

We recently had the chance to try a new, natural product – Sleep Spray. The folks at Verified CBD Oil sent a sample and one of our satellite goddesses grabbed at the chance to test it. She flat out loved it! Slept through the night the first use!

Sleep Spray’s active ingredients are CBD oil, GABA, and Valerian. Stevia helps the taste.

Here’s the short skinny on what these ingredients are:

CBD oil, also known as hemp oil, interacts with our naturally occurring systems, but is non-psychotropic, it doesn’t make you high. This makes it a safer, less controversial alternative than medical marijuana, while still offering significant health benefits.

GABA is a neurotransmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain. Low levels of GABA have been linked to anxiety, sleeplessness, and chronic pain. Researchers suspect that GABA may boost mood or have a calming, relaxing effect on the nervous system.

Valerian root has long been used for insomnia and anxiety. It even is said to have some benefit in reducing hot flashes. I drank Valerian root tea early in perimenopause but while it didn’t seem to affect my hot flashes, I felt calmer.

It’s super easy to use – just spray it under your tongue right before bedtime. It absorbs and works quickly with no grogginess in the morning according to our goddess and numerous testimonials on the site.

This could be a godsend for menopausal women – try it and let us know how it works. This is how we find out about ways to ease this transition – by women sharing wisdom.

Oh, and I saw that they also have an anti-anxiety spray – boy, I sure could have used that early in my journey! If anybody tries that, we’d love to know how it works for you.

Here’s the website: Verified CBD Oil Sleep Spray. Sweet dreams!

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Stay Cool Without Calling Attention to Yourself


Hot flashes and just heat in general are hellish for menopausal women. Often, we find ourselves, mopping ourselves with kleenex or fanning ourselves with the nearest sheet of paper. It just plain sucks.

I found myself in just that situation a few years ago. One of our beloved elders had passed away in Molokai. A few thousand showed up for her memorial service held in a community center on the island. While we could open the doors, it was Hot with a capital H in there. Luckily, I had my secret weapon: the BlowMeCool fan. I’d charged it with the USB cord and dropped it in my purse for just such a menopausal emergency.

I turned it on, holding it in my hand. It was barely noticeable visually, it was QUIET, and blissfully blew loads of cool air right onto my beet red face. It saved my bacon that day and so many others. We’ve carried it in the Menopause Marketplace for 5 years or so.

Now, there is a new, blue edition (the first iteration is orange.) It’s sturdier and the blue color makes it even more unobtrusive. It’s less transparent so the inner workings are less visible. It costs a couple dollars more, but having tried it when the company sent me one, I can definitely recommend you buy the blue one if you can. If you are truly geeky and you want to see the innards, by all means buy the orange one.

And Menopause Goddess Blog readers get a 10% discount just by adding this code at checkout:  MGB18.

In this video, creator Brian Burge explaining why he developed this wonderful fan (spoiler alert: his wife went the the Pause).

Click here to order. And don’t forget to add our Menopause Goddess Blog discount code: MGB18. You won’t be sorry!
 

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Must See Film “Love, Sweat, and Tears” Released on DVD

love, sweat, and tears

At last, Dr. Pamela Dee Gaudry’s film, Love, Sweat, and Tears is going to be available on DVD (release date is Aug. 22 but you can preorder now.

This is a groundbreaking film – and addresses how to keep intimacy alive and thriving during and after the Pause. A host of celebrities and entrepreneurs in menopause remedies augment Dr. Pam’s humor and wisdom.

The DVD is only 29.95 – I wish we had had this film some 15 years ago – it would have been so helpful to the Menopause Goddess group. We had to stumble and fumble our way through (although we wouldn’t have missed our collective journey for the world.).

Dr. Pam’s plain talk is refreshing and appealing. The humor in the film resonated with us goddesses – reverent irreverence helps us along this transition.

I will say that the film spends less time on symptoms of menopause other than romance and intimacy – but if she’d covered every aspect in depth the movie would be several hours long! Those of you who are in or through menopause know what I mean!

I highly recommend that every woman approaching, during, and even post menopause view this DVD. You might want to start your own Menopause Goddess Group and see it together. For hints on how to do this, just put Creating a Goddess Group in the Search box here on the blog.

Order the DVD on the Love, Sweat, and Tears website. You can also rent or purchase the streaming video via iTunes or directly on the website. Click here for more info; Love Sweat, and Tears Film.

And if you missed our blog posts where Dr. Pam shares her personal story, here are the links:

Part I: An Obstetrician’s Transition to Menopause and Survivorship Medicine

Part II: An Obstetrician’s Transition to Menopause and Survivorship Medicine

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Tackle Hormonal Mood Swings

Maelstrom © lynette sheppard

There are powerful things at work in each of our bodies that help regulate the most basic and the most complex of things. Take hormones, for instance: They regulate our growth and they impact our immune system. When it comes to estrogen and progesterone in females, they also control our reproductive processes.

But hormones have long gotten a bad rap, as a reason that women have to ride an emotional roller coaster every month based on their cycle or as changes occur in menopause. The question is—is that reputation that hormones have deserved?

Research suggests a strong maybe, although the link may not be as definitive as once thought. For starters, some women may be more in tune with those hormone level fluctuations, which means that the levels may have more impact on how they feel. And how they feel may also depend on the phase of their cycle and how they experience menopause.

To learn more, check out this helpful graphic shared by Health Perch in partnership with Ghergich and Co.

Health Perch offers these helpful suggestions for dealing with hormonal mood swings:

Balancing Act

If you feel like your hormones are holding you hostage, some relatively simple lifestyle changes may help.

1. Pay attention
Keep a diary of your symptoms for a few months. All women are different, and the only way to understand your moods is to record them and analyze the data. It may bring relief to observe that menopausal mood swings don’t last forever.

2. Eat up
Studies suggest women with hormone fluctuations may be deficient in calcium and magnesium. Foods rich in vitamin B6, omega 3 fatty acids, and zinc may also help prevent mood swings, according to some experts. It can’t hurt to eat a more nutrient-dense diet. Reach for vegetables, leafy greens, beans, seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains, poultry, seafood and seaweed, and fish.

3. Improve sleep habits
Some women report insomnia when estrogen and progesterone levels plummet; 40 to 50 percent of women experience insomnia during menopause. Women with sleep disturbances are more likely to feel stressed out, tense, anxious, or depressed. To improve your odds of a good night of sleep, make your room dark, quiet, and cool, and stick to routine sleep and waking times.

4. Move more
In one study, eight weeks of aerobic training significantly reduced participants’ premenstrual symptoms. Choose physical activities you enjoy since the point is to feel good.

5. Manage stress
Women who experience stress early in a menstrual cycle are more likely to experience mood swings later in the cycle, according to a study. The same goes for menopause. Walking, mindfulness exercises, visiting nature, and hanging out with friends are proven ways to reduce stress.

6. Reduce caffeine and alcohol
In studies, caffeine has been shown to decrease feelings of relaxation and increase ratings of anxiousness, tenseness, and nervousness. Alcohol may interfere with estrogen detoxification (which could be why it’s associated with a higher risk of breast cancer). Reach for a drink, such as water or herbal tea, that helps you feel calm.

If you experience mood swings that interfere with your daily life and these healthy makeovers don’t help, it may be time to check in with your doctor or naturopath. Herbs, such as chaste tree and red clover, vitamin supplements, or medical treatments may help.

Conclusion
Hormonal changes should not be used to discount or discriminate against women or medicalize normal life changes. However, it doesn’t serve women to pretend our bodies and moods stay constant through the course of a lifetime. Whether the subject is menstruation, menopause, moods, or other topics, we should take women’s health seriously. Recognizing and understanding hormonal fluctuations may help women move through their lives with more awareness and ease.

You can find lots more health and wellness information on Health Perch: click here to go to their website.

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Can the Aging Process Be Stopped? Maybe…

dancing palm © lynette sheppard


Many years ago, I attended a book signing / talk by a well known physician turned healer. I was struck by one thing he said as an MD – that there is no physiological reason why we have to age. Our bodies have the ability for self regeneration and repair. He felt we could figure out why our bodies somehow “forgot” how to continue this process. While intriguing, I thought the premise was “pie in the sky”. Surely, we had to age.

Over the years, many truisms that I learned and believed with all my heart in medicine turned out to be false (or at least less true.) For example, I learned that there was absolutely no way to reverse clogged arteries in the heart – we could stop the process but never reverse it.

That was true…until it wasn’t. Dean Ornish set out to prove otherwise with a 10% fat diet, yoga, exercise regimen. PET scans proved him right. Now we “know” that it is possible to reverse coronary atherosclerosis.

Fast forward to the present time. Research is taking that physician-healer’s premise to the next level. Anti-aging and anti disease remedies may soon be on the horizon. Longevity is not the only concern (or even the main one) but living healthier as we age is a focus. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes and cancer are being targeted as well harnessing the body’s immunity and self repair functions.

One of the leaders in the field just now is Dr. David Sinclair. He briefly explains some of the research in the video below. You can also find his Ted Talk on YouTube.

 

Much more information about aging research can be found on a site called Geroscience based out of Hamburg, Germany. Their mission is to educate and inform us of the science and issues related to the creation of this next generation of medicine. Check them out: click here.

These are exciting times. Google has embarked on an anti aging project called Calico – there is very little known about it and its progress so far. Google has been secretive about any progress or even what is actually being done.

Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan through their foundation have funded an anti disease project bringing together leading scientists and researchers. By promoting networking and cooperation among the best scientific minds, they hope to eliminate, cure, or prevent disease by the end of the century.

In the meantime, we all can avail ourselves of some simple ways of aging vibrantly: exercise, eat well, and diminish stress. And don’t forget the chocolate and red wine.

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Writing Menopause – You Must Read This Book!

I love love love fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. I love exceptional writing. I especially love anything that cuts to the heart of what women feel and think. So when Kimberley at Inanna publications sent me the book Writing Menopause, An Anthology of Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction, I was anxious to read and review it.

It’s breathtaking. Literally. And hot-flashing, mind melding, heart touching, beautiful. I actually think ALL women would love this book, not just those of us who are approaching, well in, or past menopause.

Each piece was so tender and truthful that I had to stop after reading it to muse on my own feelings, my own journey. This book will join the ‘desert island’ books on my shelf. (Desert island books are those 10 or 20 you would take to a desert island if you were stranded indefinitely and these were the only tomes you could have.)

If I’ve not yet succeeded in convincing you that you NEED to read these vignettes, then let me say that it is the best book on the Big M I’ve read. Including mine.

If you are looking for remedies or learning more of the physiology of the Pause, this book does not offer that. If you are looking for empathy, understanding, and your confused feelings illuminated in words on paper (yes, that’s it, what she said!), then you can’t afford to miss this book. Seriously! I mean it!

I won’t quote from the book, because it wouldn’t do any of the works justice. In lieu of that, I’ll tantalize you with a few titles.

Drenched
Icing on the Cake
The Things We Carry
Disassembly
Go. Rock.
The Hot Women
Adjusting the Ashes

Please order it asap – and then tell us how you experienced it. Because it is indeed an experience when these gifted writers share the personal and universal in Menopause. It’s available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. While I love my e-reader, I suggest you get the paperback version, so you can touch as well as read it, a totem for the journey of becoming that all women must travel.

Writing Menopause: An Anthology of Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction.  Jane Cawthorne and E.D. Morin, Editors

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