When it comes to menopause, what’s normal and what’s not?
Most women hear about menopause first from their mom or an aunt who complains of hot flashes, bloating and mood swings and blames it all on “the change of life.” But everything you think you know about menopause is probably really about perimenopause.
Feeling sad is a normal part of life, but sometimes a passing case of the blues crosses into another territory: depression.
“Depression is a very common condition, especially in women,” Kimberly Jong, M.D., a Mills-Peninsula internal medicine doctor, says. “One in five women will have depression at some point in their lives.”
If you’ve been struggling with lingering feelings of sadness and despair, but you aren’t sure whether to manage it on your own or seek help, the best place to start is with your primary care or family medicine doctor.
While maintaining a healthy lifestyle offers benefits to anyone, regardless of age, it’s particularly important for women trying to get pregnant.
“Wellness before pregnancy is half the battle,” Jessica Verosko, M.D., a Mills-Peninsula obstetrician and gynecologist, says. “It can help prevent many health issues for both mother and child.”
If you’re trying to get pregnant, follow this advice to boost your health. Read More about Preparing for Pregnancy
“This was unheard of for their generation,” says Lingys. “When I decided to start a family, I thought I’d just get pregnant, but it didn’t happen.” When two years passed and she still wasn’t pregnant, she and her husband, John Carlisle, decided to try intrauterine insemination. She got pregnant on the third try. After a healthy pregnancy, she gave birth to a 9-pound, 15-ounce son, Alex, at 39. Two years later, she found out she was pregnant again, this time naturally. “The second one just happened,” says Lingys. “Brooke was a happy surprise.”
Parental Age Rising
Lingys is part of a growing trend in the United States. The number of women giving birth after age 40 has tripled since 1990, according to Pew Research. However, while more parents may want to delay having babies until their 30s and 40s, human biology hasn’t kept pace with these modern attitudes. It’s still much easier to get pregnant in our teens and twenties. For many women, the biggest obstacle to having a healthy pregnancy is getting pregnant in the first place, says Deborah Quinn-Chen, M.D., department head, Mills-Peninsula Obstetrics and Gynecology. Read More about Living Longer, Parenting Later
Two of the most common women’s health issues seen by urologists are urinary tract infections and incontinence, according to Dieter Bruno, M.D. “Besides the discomfort women experience with urinary tract conditions, there are some important reasons you should not ignore symptoms,” he says.
While blood in the urine may be a sign of a urinary tract infection, it can also be a symptom of bladder or kidney cancer. “If you ever have blood in the urine, it’s not normal,” Dr. Bruno says. “Don’t just chalk it up to a urinary tract infection. See your primary care doctor, if you have one, or a urologist.”
Two groups of women tend to get urinary tract infections, according to the doctor. “Younger women who are sexually active and older women who are postmenopausal and have decreased estrogen levels.”
Stress incontinence is also extremely common. “In general, stress incontinence is an involuntary leakage of urine when women cough, sneeze or exercise. If you are overweight – stress incontinence is more likely to affect you,” Dr. Bruno says.
For overall good urinary health, Dr. Bruno suggests two simple measures:
- Drink more fluids
- Go to the bathroom regularly to empty your bladder
“This will help you protect against urinary tract infections and maintain kidney health,” he says. If you have any of the following symptoms, he urges you to see your doctor or urologist:
- Issues with urination
- Blood in the urine
- Painful urination
- Pain in the back or kidneys
To learn more about women’s health don’t miss the 2012 Universal Sisters Conference, Hosted by Mills-Peninsula Health Services and the African American Community Health Advisory Committee on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, at the San Francisco Airport Marriott. Keynote speakers include Gloria Mayfield-Banks, Director, elite executive national sales, Mary Kay, Inc., and James E.K. Hildreth, M.D., dean, College of Biological Sciences, University of California, Davis. The day includes a continental breakfast, educational workshops and luncheon. Tickets are $50. Register here.
During pregnancy, various medical tests help identify any potential problems that might put mom or baby at risk for complications. “A high-risk pregnancy is one in which there is a higher chance of poorer outcome than in a normal or routine pregnancy,’ says Claire Serrato, M.D., Mills-Peninsula obstetrician and gynecologist who works at the Family Birth Center.
“Twin pregnancy is one example, because with two babies you have more risk of a premature birth or growth imbalances between babies,” she says. Identifying potential problems allows doctors to more carefully monitor pregnancies, and in some cases, treat certain conditions to improve the health outcomes of mother and baby. Dr. Serrato points to some advances in prenatal testing and interesting new ways that certain problems can be treated in the womb in this video segment from Healthpoint TV.