Answers to Your Most Embarrassing Menopause Questions

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: May 16, 2011

The hair on my head and pubic area seems to be relocating to my chin! Help!

Unfortunately, many women in menopause have the added annoyance of growing a third eyebrow and/or experiencing hair loss from some location on their bodies. In the March 2011 British Journal of Dermatology, a study revealed hair changes were very common among menopausal women 45 years and older. Hair loss of some form effected 41% of the women surveyed and 49% experienced increased facial hair.

Hair loss at menopause may be due to several factors. Decreasing estrogen levels and a response to androgens (testosterone and DHEA) in the skin on the face may play a role. Also, poor vitamin intake, unhealthy diets, over processing your hair, smoking and medications (like certain acid blockers, gout treatment, fertility drugs, autoimmune treatments, birth control pills and blood thinners) may also contribute to hair loss at menopause. Some other issues may also be causing the hair to fall out, including thyroid issues, diabetes/pre-diabetes and iron deficiency anemia. So, if you’re experiencing “hairy issues” at menopause, talk with your healthcare provider about testing for these problems. It could be something other than menopause that’s causing the problem.

What about the hair on your face? In the European study previously mentioned, 39% of the women who experienced facial hair growth said the hair was on the chin, 22% on the upper lip and 39% in both areas. Talk to your health care provider about prescription treatments. Otherwise, get those tweezers out!

Androgenic Alopecia at Menopause
Menopausal Hair Concerns

My bladder is controlling my life! Will I ever be able to be more than 5 feet away from a bathroom at all times?

We all need to powder our noses occasionally, but for women with a condition known as overactive bladder, all-too-frequent trips to the ladies’ room are less about fixing their lipstick and more of a frustrating – and sometimes embarrassing – disruption of their daily activities. Unfortunately, many women don’t realize they have overactive bladder, even though they are altering their lifestyles to accommodate their bladder issues. They’ve made restricting how much fluid they drink and “mapping bathrooms” so they can always find one in a hurry part of their normal routine. Sound familiar?

Overactive bladder is not a normal part of aging. But it’s more common than you might think, affecting 1 in 6 adults in the United States. The good news is this condition can be treated, so there’s no need to keep silent about the symptoms.

Lifestyle modifications, prescription medications or even surgery may be necessary. In addition, if you experience bladder leakage, you may want to try a thin pad. Some products have been developed to rapidly absorb moisture and keep it away from the body and offers protection and discretion at just the right time. People with overactive bladder symptoms may experience stress and anxiety, sleep disturbances, falls and bone fractures, skin rashes and urinary tract infections. Embarrassing as it may be, talk to your healthcare provider if you find your bladder ruling your life. You don’t have to suffer silently.

Looking for more information about overactive bladder at menopause?
Check out The Ladies’ Room

I have an itching and burning sensation “down there”. What can I do to make sex more enjoyable?

You are aging and your V-Zone is changing. Things are becoming a little drier, itchier and more easily irritated. It may be embarrassing to admit, but it is definitely not something to be ashamed about. In fact, an estimated 10% to 40% of postmenopausal women have symptoms related to vaginal atrophy. Like everything else during menopause, it’s commonly associated with declining estrogen levels. Vaginal walls may become thin, pale, dry and sometimes inflamed when one has vaginal atrophy. Many women experience a drying-up effect because blood doesn’t flow as easily to that area of your body. As a result, relying on your body to naturally lubricate during sexual activity can become a very frustrating experience. So what can a woman do? First, try using an appropriate vaginal moisturizer (Liquibeads, Replens, etc.) or water-based lubricant (Astroglide, K-Y, others). If none of these interventions help, you’ll have to get over the embarrassment because most cases require treatment. You’ll need to talk to your healthcare provider about your specific symptoms so they can personalize a therapy to meet your needs.

Since the condition of vaginal atrophy is caused by a lack of hormones, the next line of treatment is to supplement that hormone. Prescription treatments usually involve some type of hormone therapy. Various types of vaginal estrogens are available to target atrophy. Overall, symptoms have shown improvement in 80%-90% of women treated with vaginal estrogen. Results usually happen quickly too (within a few weeks).

Want more information on sexual health and menopause:
Solutions to a Struggling Sex Life at Menopause
Vaginal Dryness and Menopause
Life Between the Sheets

Do you have other embarrassing questions? Our experts, Dr. Mache Seibel, Karen Giblin and Dr. Michael Goodman field questions from our members. Submit your question by e-mailing them at: askexperts@redhotmamas.org.

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