NWWC Newsletter
FEBRUARY 2014
Stay Updated on Women's Health Issues

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What Our Patients Have Said...

Dear Dr. DeDonato: It's been a long year for us, but we are through it, and I wanted to take the time to thank you and your office. From the beginning, and I mean the beginning, you have always been professional, encouraging, and supportive. Your office helped us through infertility issues, miscarriages, three beautiful births, and now breast cancer. I don't think my file can hold anymore -- let's pray there won't be anymore!

Everyone, the doctors, nurses, receptionists, referral specialists, and anyone else I may have crossed paths with has been wonderful. You have a fine practice, and I'm always quick to refer people to your office when they are in need of an obgyn.

Thank you! Please share my gratitude with everyone there.

Happy & healthy New Year," - Ann

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At my recent visit, Shirl made me feel so welcomed and at ease. She is just delightful! - Amy
Featured Article
How to Know if You Have Early Menopause

Menopause is a natural part of every woman's life. It is during this time that ovulation and menstruation stops, and the body's hormones begin to change. Though the average age of menopause is between 50 and 51, some women go through this change much earlier in life. Doctors define early menopause as menopause that occurs before age 40.

What Causes Early Menopause?

Early menopause is often a natural process -- one that occurs due to a woman's genetics. Women with mothers or sisters who went through early menopause may be more likely to experience it themselves. Certain lifestyle factors may also contribute to early menopause. Things like low body weight and smoking can deplete the body's estrogen stores, causing early menopause. Other conditions like chromosomal defects and certain autoimmune diseases may also contribute to premature menopause.

Sometimes early menopause is a result of a medical treatment. Most commonly, women experience menopause due to surgical procedures used to remove female reproductive organs. Whether due to cancer, fibroids, or some other condition, a hysterectomy or surgery to remove the ovaries alone will cause instant menopause at any age. Cancer treatments like chemotherapy can also lead to early menopause.

Symptoms of Early Menopause

Symptoms usually begin long before menopause actually occurs. Often, the ovaries begin producing less and less estrogen, perhaps sporadically and unpredictably. The most obvious sign of early menopause is menstruation that stops or significantly changes prior to age 40. Though this does not always indicate premature menopause, it does signify the need to visit a doctor for an evaluation. In addition to early menopause, periods that stop or change can be a symptom of pregnancy or an underlying medical condition.

Other physical symptoms of premature menopause include:
  • Hot flashes
  • Sleep disturbances (difficulty sleeping, night sweats)
  • Mood changes (irritability, sadness, mood swings)
  • Diminished sex drive
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Bodily changes (less muscle mass, increased fat)
  • Stiffness or achiness
  • Forgetfulness
In order to make an official diagnosis of early menopause, a doctor must confirm that a woman has not had a period for at least 12 consecutive months. The doctor may also ask about other physical symptoms of menopause and use a blood test to assess the body's hormone production, including estrogen and follicle-stimulating hormone.

Considerations

Women who go through menopause before age 40 may experience symptoms more severely than those who experience it later in life. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that early menopause can lead to an increased risk of other health complications, such as osteoporosis. It is important to speak with a doctor about ways of preventing such diseases.

Also, though the symptoms of menopause are often uncomfortable, there are ways of managing them or even preventing them. For example, hot flashes can occur more frequently when a woman eats spicy foods or consumes caffeine. Avoiding these foods and keeping a fan nearby at all times can make it easier to manage a hot flash. Over the counter lubricants can help manage vaginal dryness, and staying physically active can help boost energy levels and reduce stress. Additionally, many women find it beneficial to adopt better lifestyle habits to improve sleep quality and help manage weight. This, along with therapy, can help with mood changes, memory problems, and other physical symptoms of early menopause.

Keep in mind that even after a diagnosis of early menopause, it is still possible for the ovaries to produce hormones. Some women find that their periods return, and a few even become pregnant. Women who think they may be experiencing early menopause should talk with their doctors about ways they can manage the change and possible fertility.

Q&A
When should I make my first prenatal appointment?

Call us after you have a positive home pregnancy test. We will make an appointment for you at approximately 6.5 weeks of pregnancy. We perform an ultrasound at your first visit to confirm your due date.

For more answers, click here to visit our frequently asked questions page.
Quick Tips
Is Pizza Healthy?
What The Heck Are You Eating / Everyday Health


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about
Northwest Women's Consultants, SC
1630 W. Central Road
Arlington Heights, Illinois 60005
(847) 394-3553

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this newsletter is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for medical care and advice of your physician. The dispensing of this information should in no way be construed as establishing a doctor-patient relationship.