Depression During Pregnancy

Depression, especially in pregnancy, is a sensitive subject.  It impacts the woman, her child and her family and it affects between 14 and 23% women during pregnancy.  Because of hormonal changes during pregnancy, a woman may not realize she is suffering from depression.  A new, comprehensive guide about this condition that discusses symptoms and treatment to help  women and their family members understand and cope with this issue is now available from the a site called PsychGuides.   For a helpful resource visit   Living with Depression during Pregnancy

Also, if you live in the Chicago area, the Asher Center for the Study and Treatment of Depression and Mood Disorders  has just opened at Northwestern Medicine that provides expertise in hormone-related depression.

Heavy Bleeding during Menopause

Most women think menopause means low estrogen, hot flashes, and the end to regular and monthly periods. This may not be the case, however. Researchers have found that women may experience an increase in the amount and duration of bleeding, which may occur sporadically throughout the transition of menopause.

Researchers from the University of Michigan utilized data from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation, in which participants kept track of their episodes from 1996 to 2006. Women were of various ethnicities, including caucasian, Chinese, Japanese, and African-American. This was particularly unique in that previous studies have been limited to caucasians and were of shorter duration.

The results showed that during the menopause transition, women can have prolonged bleeding of 10 or more days, spotting for a week, and heavy bleeding for 3 or more days. 91 percent of the approximately  1,300 women ages 42 to 52 years old in the study, recorded up to 3 episodes of bleeding that lasted at least 10 days. Up to 88 percent of women in the age group reported at least 6 days of spotting, and up to 78 percent recorded at least 3 days of heavy bleeding. No significant differences regarding bleeding episodes were noted amongst race and ethnicities.

More research will need to be done to determine how to evaluate alterations in menstruation during menopause. However, this research reveals some of the qualitative differences in bleeding that women may expect through the menopausal transition. Instead of consistently being alarmed with what their bodies are going through, women can now perhaps be more aware of the changes in bleeding patterns, and what may or may not require medical attention. To discover other physical symptoms that occur and may change with menopause, visit Northwestern’s menopause website here.

 

Source: University of Michigan. “Prolonged, heavy bleeding during menopause is common.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140415203629.htm>.

 

Safety issues with laparoscopic uterine/fibroid procedure

Today, FDA issued a safety communication discouraging the use of laparoscopic power morcellation for the removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) or uterine fibroids (myomectomy) in women.  This type of procedure poses a risk of spreading unsuspected cancerous tissue, notably uterine sarcomas, a type of uterine cancer.

Laparoscopic power morcellation is one of several available treatments for fibroids.  It is a procedure that uses a medical device to divide the uterine tissue into smaller pieces so it can be removed through a small incision in the abdomen.  Prior to treatment, there is no reliable method for identifying whether a woman may have an unsuspected uterine sarcoma instead of, or in addition to, fibroids.  Published studies suggest that morcellation of an unsuspected uterine sarcoma increases the risk of cancer spread.

Most women will develop uterine fibroids at some point in their lives, and, while most uterine fibroids do not cause problems for women who have them, they can cause symptoms such as heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding and pain, requiring medical or surgical therapy.

The FDA’s primary concern as it considers the continued use of these devices is the safety and well-being of patients, and will continue looking into this issue by convening a panel of outside experts at a public meeting to discuss the clinical role of laparoscopic power morcellation in these treatments, surgical techniques, and labeling related to these devices. Information on this meeting will be posted as soon as it becomes available.

In today’s safety communication, the FDA made specific recommendations on this topic for health care providers and women.

If you have questions about this communication, please contact the Center for Devices and Radiological Health’s Division of Industry and Consumer Education (DICE) at DICE@FDA.HHS.GOV, 800-638-2041 or 301-796-7100.

Morning sun the new weight loss option???

A surprising new strategy for managing your weight? Bright morning light!!  A new Northwestern Medicine® study reports the timing, intensity and duration of your light exposure during the day is linked to your weight — the first time this has been shown.

People who had most of their daily exposure to even moderately bright light in the morning had a significantly lower body mass index (BMI) than those who had most of their light exposure later in the day, the study found.   “The earlier this light exposure occurred during the day, the lower individuals’ body mass index,” said co-lead author Kathryn Reid, research associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “The later the hour of moderately bright light exposure, the higher a person’s BMI.”

The influence of morning light exposure on body weight was independent of an individual’s physical activity level, caloric intake, sleep timing, age or season. It accounted for about 20 percent of a person’s BMI.

“Light is the most potent agent to synchronize your internal body clock that regulates circadian rhythms, which in turn also regulate energy balance,” said study senior author Phyllis C. Zee, M.D. “The message is that you should get more bright light between 8 a.m. and noon.” About 20 to 30 minutes of morning light is enough to affect BMI.

Zee is the Benjamin and Virginia T. Boshes Professor of Neurology and director of the Northwestern Medicine Sleep and Circadian Rhythms Research Program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She also is a neurologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

“If a person doesn’t get sufficient light at the appropriate time of day, it could de-synchronize your internal body clock, which is known to alter metabolism and can lead to weight gain,” Zee said. The exact mechanism of how light affects body fat requires further research, she noted.

The study was published April 2 in the journal PLOS ONE. Giovanni Santostasi, a research fellow in neurology at Feinberg, also is a co-lead author.

What’s the Magic Number for Low BMI?

Many people do not get enough natural light in the morning, Zee said, because the American lifestyle is predominantly indoors. We also work in poorly lit environments, usually about 200 to 300 lux. In the study, 500 lux was “the magic number” or minimum threshold for having a lower BMI. Even on a cloudy day, outdoor light is more than 1,000 lux of brightness. It is difficult to achieve this light level with usual indoor lighting, the scientists noted.

Light May Be Next Frontier for Weight Loss  

“Light is a modifiable factor with the potential to be used in weight management programs,” Reid said. “Just like people are trying to get more sleep to help them lose weight, perhaps manipulating light is another way to lose weight.”

The study included 54 participants (26 males, 28 females), an average age of 30. They wore a wrist actigraphy monitor that measured their light exposure and sleep parameters for seven days in normal-living conditions. Their caloric intake was determined from seven days of food logs.

Source:  Northwestern News Service, author Marla Paul

Bladder Control Problems during Menopause

Loss of bladder control, or urinary incontinence, is a problem that millions of women face. The involuntary loss of urine can range in presentation; it can be minimal, from a few drops when you laugh, exercise, or cough. Or, it can be an accident when you suddenly urge to urinate and can’t keep it in. Most episodes of urinary incontinence are the result of altered pressures or stress on the muscles and nerves that help you pass or hold urine in. Hormone changes can also affect muscle strength. Like your vaginal tissue, the muscle tissue in and surrounding the bladder and urethra (the short tube that passes urine from the bladder out the body) requires estrogen to remain supple and strong. When estrogen levels drop in menopause, the tissue around the bladder and urethra thin and weaken,which can lead to incontinence.

The most common types of urinary incontinence include stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence occurs when the pressures from activities such as laughing, coughing, and sneezing cause leakage. Urge incontinence occurs when you have the urge to urinate and your bladder squeezes at the wrong time. Often, these two types can create a mixed picture. Other bladder problems that can happen are nocturia, when you must wake up multiple times throughout the night to urinate, and dysuria, painful urination.

If you think you have incontinence, visit a professional to learn more about the variety of options you have for treatment. A professional can be your primary care physician, gynecologist, urologist, and even a urogynecologist. Your physician may recommend lifestyle changes such as limiting alcohol or caffeine intake, recording a voiding diary, or strengthening your pelvic floor muscles with Kegel exercises. Beyond this, therapies also include devices inserted into the vagina to hold up the bladder (pessaries), a variety of medications, and surgery if necessary. Your physician will also be the one to exclude other potential causes of bladder problems including infection and neurological damage.

To learn more about urinary issues or other symptomatology that arise during menopause, visit Northwestern’s menopause website here.

Chicago Network Census Shows Lack of Senior Women in City’s Companies

Women continue to be underrepresented in senior roles in the sciences and in the corporate world. According to data from the NSF, there are nearly 5.4 million men and women employed as scientists and engineers in the United States, but women hold only 27% of these positions! The Chicago Network shows us that these disparities are present in upper-levels of the corporate world as well. Check out the shocking statistics below–it’s time to Make the Case for Inclusion in the science and corporate world! Click HERE to see the full-size image.

Three Simple Ways to Keep Your Mouth Healthy–Other than Brushing and Flossing

Dental health is often overlooked or thought of once a year in our annual cleaning in the dentist’s office. But practicing good oral care can save you expensive dental repair procedures down the road! Three simple steps can help you keep your mouth healthy.

First things first, saliva is the most important barrier against germs. Saliva is rich in antibacterial properties that kill germs and heal wounds.  Keeping your mouth healthy means keeping your saliva levels healthy. If you suffer from dry mouth, you may be opening the door wide for gum-disease! Some medications may cause dry-mouth, so combat these with sugar free gum to help get the saliva flowing.

Regularly rinsing out your mouth with water will help wash away any lingering food particles that attract bacteria. Bacteria can cause plaque, cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Swishing water around your mouth after and between meals can actually make a big difference in dental health!

Stress is an unexpected culprit of dental problems, but nevertheless is linked to almost all types of oral problems. Chronic tension and stress weakens the body’s immune system, which makes fighting infections (including oral infections) more difficult. Stress also can trigger increased acid levels in your mouth, which makes cavities more likely.

Take a moment to change the way you think about oral hygiene, and show those pearly whites proudly!

Source: Women’s Health Magazine

Alcohol related risk may be more deadly for women

The increased risk of death associated with alcohol intake is not the same for men and women. A study that compared the amount of alcohol consumed and death from all causes among nearly 2.5 million women and men showed that the differences between the sexes became greater as alcohol intake increased, as described in an article in Journal of Women’s Health, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Journal of Women’s Health website.

In the article “Effect of Drinking on All-Cause Mortality in Women Compared with Men: A Meta-Analysis,” Chao Wang and coauthors, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical Sciences (Beijing, China), modeled the relationship between the dose of alcohol consumed and the risk of death, comparing the results for drinkers versus non-drinkers and among male and female drinkers. Females had an increased rate of all-cause mortality conferred by drinking compared with males, especially in heavy drinkers.

“While alcoholism is more common in men than women, female drinkers face greater risks to their health compared with male drinkers,” says Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Women’s Health, Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women’s Health, Richmond, VA, and President of the Academy of Women’s Health.

New Rochelle, NY, April 9, 2014

Calcium and vitamin D may help with Cholesterol

Drinking milk is not just for kids but also for post-menopausal women, new research shows. A new study from the Women’s Health Initiative just published by the North American Menopause Society, reveals that calcium and vitamin D after menopause can improve women’s cholesterol profiles.

Over 600 women took either a supplement containing 1,000 mg of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D3, or a placebo, daily. Women who took the supplement, unsurprisingly, were two times more likely to have sufficient vitamin D levels (at least 30 ng/mL), in comparison to the women were taking placebo. Women who were taking supplements also had LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) numbers that were 4 to 5 points lower than the women taking placebo. The women on supplement also had higher levels of HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and lower levels of triglycerides.

Researchers agree that more work needs to be done to see whether or not supplementing one’s diet with calcium and vitamin D can lower cholesterol levels and ultimately improve rates of cardiovascular disease in women after menopause. These results, however, show that there may potentially be extra benefits for those with calcium and vitamin D deficiencies to start supplements. Supplementing may be key for strengthening both the heart and bones after menopause. To learn more about healthy choices you can make after menopause, visit Northwestern’s menopause website here.

“Calcium/vitamin D supplementation, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, and cholesterol profiles in the Women’s Health Initiative calcium/vitamin D randomized trial,” will be published in the August 2014 print edition of Menopause.

 

Northwestern Memorial in top ten health providers for women

Prentice Women’s Hospital: Under the Northwestern Memorial Hospital Chicago, was recently named one of the top ten women’s health providers by HealthCare Global Magazine.   It was noted that the hospital  provides a wide variety of services and specialized care just for women, through all stages of their lives- from gynecologic and pregnancy care to menopause and bone health.   The Women’s Health Research Institute has worked with Prentice on several programs including:

  • Advocacy and promotion of specialty clinics in neurology, depression, cardiology, skin health, sleep disorders, and pelvic health that are described HERE
  • The creation of an interactive menopause website that provides the latest options for menopause symptom management.
  • Provided professional education on sex differences beyond reproductive and maternal health.

To learn about the entire top ten, visit Healthcare Global.