You’re Hot Or You’re Cold…Do You Have A Thyroid Problem?

Your thyroid is the small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck and its job is to control the speed of your body’s metabolism and to convert food into energy.  When this little organ isn’t functioning properly, it can cause a LOT of problems…especially for women.1,2

It is estimated that 20 million Americans can be affected by thyroid disease and that close to 60% of those are unaware they even have the condition.  Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid issues and one in eight will develop a thyroid issue during her life.3

There are two types of thyroid problems –  hypothyroidism, where the body has too little thyroid hormone and hyperthyroidism, where too much thyroid hormone is produced.  There could be a number of reasons why your thyroid is on the blink, such as genetics, stress, an autoimmune problem, nutritional deficiencies, or environmental toxins.2 The following are some signs and symptoms of each type.

Hypothyroidism1,2,4

  • Lack of energy
  • Depressed or sad
  • Feeling cold
  • Decreased interest in sex
  • Weight gain
  • Forgetfulness
  • Heavier and longer periods
  • Dry skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dry hair that breaks and falls out
  • Constipation
  • Sleeping often

 

Hyperthyroidism1,2,5

  • Weight loss
  • Feeling too warm or sweating too much
  • Nervous, jittery, or anxious
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lighter and shorter periods
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Balding, thinning hair
  • Hand tremors
  • More frequent bowel movements

A change in your voice, lump in your throat, or high blood pressure are symptoms of both hypo- and hyperthyroidism, so be on the lookout for these as well.2

Get Tested

If you have one or more of these symptoms, go see your doctor and discuss getting a blood test to determine the levels of these hormones:  thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), Free T3, and Free T4.  After a review of your lab results, you may be prescribed synthetic thyroxine (levothyroxine sodium tablets) for hypothyroidism.  If you have hyperthyroidism, antithyroid drugs may be prescribed, such as methimazole. 4,5

Follow Up

It is important to continue to visit your doctor yearly so that your thyroid hormone and TSH levels can be checked, particularly if you have hypothyroidism.  For both hypo- and hyperthyroidism, family members should be checked as well.4,5

Hormones and Your Thyroid

Be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking any hormones such as progesterone or estrogen as these can affect thyroid function.  Too much estrogen, for example, can lead to low thyroid levels.6

Listen to your body.  The talking your thyroid gland does can help you stay healthy!

 

REFERENCES:

  1.  http://www.safemenopausesolutions.com/thyroid.html.
  2. http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20723100,00.html#a-thyroid-disorder-epidemic—0.
  3. https://www.thyroid.org/media-main/about-hypothyroidism/
  4. https://www.thyroid.org/hypothyroidism/
  5. https://www.thyroid.org/hyperthyroidism/
  6. https://drhedberg.com/hormone-thyroid-connection/.

Sorry.  Not tonight.

Face it.  Getting older stinks!  Your hair gets gray, you start getting wrinkles, and your skin starts getting thin and loses its elasticity.  Yup, even down THERE the walls of the vagina get thin.  It’s called “vaginal atrophy” and due to lower levels of estrogen, it can affect approximately 50% of postmenopausal women.  Some of the unpleasant symptoms of vaginal atrophy include, vaginal dryness, itching, irritation, and/or pain during sex, also called “dyspareunia”.1

So what can be done to help make sex more enjoyable and less painful?

  • Don’t be silent! Talk to your doctor, get a pelvic exam, and make sure it’s not anything more serious.  And don’t forget to talk about ALL of your symptoms.  Fewer than one-half of women with vaginal atrophy discuss painful sex with their doctor.  Why?  They think nothing can be done about it or that it’s just something that happens as we age.2
  • Use water-soluble lubricants such as Astroglide® or K-Y® Jelly. Do not use Vaseline®, which is NOT water soluble.  It can weaken latex condoms and they could break.  Not so much a big deal for postmenopausal women who are over their childbearing years, but condoms are still good protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), even for the older generation!3 According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, STD rates have nearly tripled over the past ten years among 45- to 65-year olds.4
  • Communicate with your partner. Tell him or her what is comfortable and what isn’t.  Consider different positions.  Use other activities, such as sensual massage or oral sex.  Even fantasy can be fun, too, and can include music, videos, or television.  Remember, sex should be fun!3
  • Low-dose vaginal estrogen therapy. This type of product provides relief right where it is needed and minimizes possible estrogen side effects on the rest of the body.  It comes in various forms, such as vaginal creams, rings, or tablets, and these products are very effective for atrophy-related pain during sex, with up to 93% of women reporting significant improvement, and 57% to 75% reporting reporting their sexual comfort is restored.5
  • Selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM). In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved ospemifene (Osphena®), a SERM for the treatment of postmenopausal dyspareunia which increases vaginal epithelial cells and decreases vaginal pH.2

So speak up and get treated!  You’ll be glad you did, and so will your partner!

REFERENCES:

 

  1. http://medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=114511.
  2. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2014/1001/p465.html.
  3. http://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/sex-menopause
  4. https://www.everydayhealth.com/erectile-dysfunction/0203/why-stds-are-skyrocketing-among-older-adults.aspx
  5. http://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/effective-treatments-for-sexual-problems/vaginal-and-vulvar-comfort-lubricants-moisturizers-and-low-dose-vaginal-estrogen

Astroglide®, K-Y® Jelly, Vaseline®, and Osphena® are all registered trademarks of their respective companies.

 

Think Vaccines Are Just for Children?  Think Again!

Fall is here!  Just about everything we eat or drink is pumpkin spiced, the leaves on the trees are turning beautiful colors of red, orange, and yellow, and it’s sweater weather!  While great for snuggling or sitting around a firepit, the cooler temperatures increase our risk of getting sick.  Cooler weather can weaken our immune system, allowing illness and infection to set in and lower temperatures also make it easier for viruses to travel from person to person.  As we age and our immune systems weaken, winter can be even more dangerous.1

Many seniors believe they don’t need vaccines, or are afraid of their side effects, but seniors aged 65 and older are at higher risk of the complications from the diseases themselves.2  It is estimated that as many as 50,000 to 70,000 adults per year die from pneumonia and influenza in the United States.  This number could be greatly reduced, and getting immunized is a part of healthy aging.3

Here are some important immunizations that are recommended for seniors, particularly senior women.  As always, consult your physician regarding the best plan for you as every person is different and has different needs.

Influenza vaccine

Want to help prevent the sneezing, sniffles, aches, and pain related to the flu?  You need a flu shot.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults get an annual flu vaccine.4  Why?  Over 60% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations occur in seniors aged 65 and older.  The manufacturer updates the vaccine each year to make sure it is able to combat the most current virus.2  Data show that more men aged 65 and older receive the flu shot (70%) versus women (68%).5

Pneumococcal vaccine

This vaccine protects against pneumococcal disease, including infections in the lungs and bloodstream.4  Only 64% of elderly women and 63% of elderly men ever had the vaccine.5  Seniors 65 years and older need a series of two different vaccines to protect against pneumococcal disease.2

Zoster vaccine

It is estimated that one million Americans get shingles each year and approximately half of them are aged 60 and above.4  Shingles is a very painful, blistering rash that is contagious.  It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chicken pox.  Getting the shot can decrease your risk of having shingles by about 50% or minimize its severity.2  Only 34% of women aged 65 and older have ever had a shingles vaccine.5

Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis vaccine (Tdap)

Remember getting a tetanus shot as a kid?  Well, now the CDC recommends that every adult should get a Tdap shot once if they did not receive it as a child because it protects against tetanus, diphtheria, as well as whooping cough.  Then, you should get a tetanus-diphtheria booster shot every 10 years.4  More seniors are contracting whooping cough, possibly due to fading immunity.2  Data show that men aged 65 and older received a tetanus vaccine more often than women (61%) versus (54%).5

Let’s go ladies!  Get vaccinated today!

Many senior women are caregivers, so protecting your health is as important to you as it is to those who depend on you.

References:

  1.  https://www.ncoa.org/blog/4-important-vaccines-seniors-covered-medicare/
  2. http://www.comfortkeepers.com/home/info-center/senior-health-wellbeing/recommended-immunizations-for-seniors.
  3. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/adult-vaccines-beyond-the-basics.
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/rec-vac/index.html.
  5. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/882254.