Signs and Symptoms of Menopause with Dr. Tori Hudson, Part II

by Jan on November 5, 2009

Memory loss and confusion can be very difficult to determine between the early phase of a progressive condition versus normal age related changes in our memory, in our focus, and in our concentration. There are also other health problems that affect memory and concentration other than menopause, like low thyroid function, depression, anxiety, medications, and chronic pain. But as it relates to menopause, again we have changes in our hormone levels in our brain affecting how things are firing, and blood flow to our brain. So brain chemistry and blood flow affects memory, concentration and focus. And this is an area, as time goes on, that can be more difficult to understand. Is this a more serious, progressive problem ultimately leading to dementia? Or, is it just a hormonal change that can be connected with something hormonal? Or, is it normal age? Or is it, as I said, one of the other treatable causes?

In women, estrogen and testosterone in particular can often improve these hormone related memory changes. There are also some natural substances that improve blood flow and that improve some of the neurological inputs. There is a little substance called NADH that can improve memory quite a bit. Gingko maybe doesn’t so much improve memory day to day but can help slow the decline of memory loss. There are actually numerous other plants that can improve memory. Gota Kola, an herb that people haven’t necessarily heard of, and one of my favorites Rodiola. It’s sort of a more eastern European plant with a considerable amount of research. Men in particular might be interested in that Rodiola has been studied to not only improve memory and concentration, but athletic performance. Recovering much more quickly from your workout example. So, for both men and women, that is kind of a good little tidbit to know. But, it’s actually a significant plant in memory loss.

Loss of libido can be a frequently reported symptom that women talk about. A better concept is “changes in sexual function”. Sexual function includes desire, which we call libido, arousal (the ability to get “worked up” so to speak), and then it includes the orgasmic response. So, those three areas are the key areas of sexual function. The hormonal changes can affect all three of those areas. With the drop in desire, intellectually the woman might still want to have sex, and likely does, if things re going well in life and the relationship. So intellectually she does, but she just doesn’t have the feeling, the juice, the joie de vie. She just doesn’t think of it. That’s very much a hormonally mediated symptom. She also often experiences a lower ability to get aroused. It takes longer or it’s less intense, the same with sensations to touch. The sensation to touch lessens. ?? to a decrease in blood flow to the area, there is less ability to feel and so the orgasmic responses are often slower and less intense. Now, men also have these changes with drop in testosterone, or at least, men often do. For women, our sexual function is also partly determined by testosterone, but for women it’s mostly estrogen and partially testosterone.

The women who use a topical testosterone cream applied to the genital area right before sex can actually have enhanced orgasmic response. The best approach to improving libido and arousal is using estrogen and testosterone together in a prescription form.

Vaginal dryness is also a part of a woman’s sexual function, because if sex is uncomfortable, then she doesn’t feel like having sex. So that’s one of the first things I do in an interview, in a woman who says “I just don’t feel like having sex”, I ask her about, “well when you do have sex, is it uncomfortable? And if it is, where?” There is dryness in the vaginal wall, but there is also… a drop in estrogen that affects the opening to the vagina. It’s called the introitis, and that ring contracts and narrows estrogen. So, not only is the vagina now thinner and drier, with less lubrication and less circulation, the opening is narrower, and so it’s painful. This change in vaginal comfort is part of libido and arousal and orgasmic response. Vaginal estrogen medication is a miraculous treatment for vaginal dryness and discomfort with sex because it not only takes care of the dryness it then makes the tissue more elastic so now this narrowed opening can get more elastic again. Vaginal estrogen with some topical testosterone to the genital area right before sex, and perhaps some systemic estrogen and testosterone when some of the herbal formulas don’t work for libido, she’s hopefully restored a satisfactory sexual function…more to come…are we having fun yet??

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