Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Another Hot Night

You've waited for this evening for weeks. Finally you and your husband have the time and a few dollars to go out for the night to spend some romantic time together. The grown kids are now gone off to college, married, or are chasing their promising career and the house is essentially empty. No longer do you hear the calls of, "Mom, I can't find my...", "Did you wash my...", or "What's for supper? I'm starved!" Those days are gone.

Instead you hear the phone ring or once in awhile, the door bursts open without a knock and your tiny, precious baby now stands there tall and strong with the grin you've loved for years and a black garbage bag full of dirty laundry. No, you'll never stop being 'Mom', but the role of 'Mom' has now changed. However, for tonight, you are Mrs. Romantically Female; an actual woman again.

As you look in the mirror, the maturity of all the things you've experienced for the past decades is evident; the long nights with sick kids, the rushing to sports' events and concerts, the tedious jobs of folding clothes and cooking meals.

You slip on that special pink dress and maybe even don a pair of heels if they still fit. The hairdo has to be just right so after every hair is in place you spray it lightly. You put on your foundation, shadow, eyeliner and mascara. Then you add just a touch of blush to brighten the now slightly sunken cheeks. As you're applying the final touch of lipstick, it hits.

That dreaded hot flash! As you begin to feel your insides heat up you start fanning yourself trying to cool off before the well-known affects of the last hour's hard work begin to cause a meltdown. Your deodorant kicks into second gear; and then third; as the perspiration begins to run between your breasts at an alarming rate.

The temperature rises as the beads of sweat try to seep from under your make-up. You can feel the evaporation from your hairline, and under your nose, and you dab at it with a tissue hoping to head off the inevitable while still keeping collateral damage to a minimum.

As your scalp begins to moisten and your perfect hair begins to lose all the body you worked so hard to instill, you lean forward to keep your back off the chair hoping a little air circulation will help. It doesn't.

Your heart races a mile a minute and it seems the more you panic to cool off, the more you heat up. As the panic turns to frustration, the hairdo begins to fall, the mascara runs under your eyes, the shadow collects into creases on your lids, and your clothes display their own personal imprints of perspiration in the most uninviting places.

Now you try to hold back the tears so you can salvage what's left of the make-up, change into something more casual... that's not sweat laden... in darker colors... and replace the nylons and heels with socks and sneakers. Deciding that a burger and fries tastes just as good as lobster and salad, you pull yourself together and announce to your husband maybe a more casual evening like a movie and McDonalds would actually save money anyway.

Don't despair. Any woman who's going through menopause has been there. Just when you think you can begin to have a life of your own, now that the kids are old enough to fend for themselves, you begin turning the corner into "older" age and the hot flashes (or "flushes" as they're also referred to) remind you of your more mature age. There is hope!

Sure you can get hormone replacement therapy to ease some of the symptoms of menopause, but not everyone is comfortable with taking them. There are dozens of rumors about all the serious side effects, and although many women can take them without any negative repercussions, many others are just not ready to take the chance. So, what's a woman to do?

There are some new products and methods that are either just now being introduced into the market, or that are currently being tested and are soon to be available.

One of those is called Verita`. Unlike regular medicines or drugs, Verita` is not ingested. Rather, it is a topical spray that is intended to cool your skin during a hot flash.

When you begin to feel a hot flash coming on, this topical application is sprayed directly on any exposed skin such as your arms, legs, neck or chest. It comes in an easily accessible and compact bottle that can be kept in your purse, your car, a tote bag, a desk drawer, or anywhere else you happen to be. It's advertised to break the cycle of hot flashes on contact.

Because Verita is comprised of a blend of botanicals and marine algae, and because it's topical in nature, it can't upset any hormone balance in your system. The maker has also considered the fragrance so she's added a light blend of aloe and cucumber scent. Melissa France from ME Cosmeceuticals is the developer and states that product sales are doing well locally.

There is also a new treatment that comes in the form of a gel and it's called "Low-dose Transdermal Estradiol (E2) Gel". Ronald Ackerman, MD., the Chief Executive Officer and Medical Director of Comprehensive Clinical Trials in West Palm Beach, Florida is quoted as saying, "The treatment goal is to provide the least amount of estrogen over the least amount of time which can be effective for the individual patient. Transdermal is a growing trend owing to its ability to bypass the liver and be given at lower doses."

The testing of Transdermal was done on 488 women between the ages of 18 to 65 who experienced more than 50 hot flashes per week, regardless of whether the flashes were due to age or other medical factors such as a hysterectomy. After twelve weeks of applying the gel alternately to each thigh, 92% of the tested women reported that their hot flashes were now mild to moderate, with the more adverse symptoms being experienced by only those who were being treated with the higher doses.

The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) suggests that Low-dose Transdermal Estradiol just may be an alternative to the traditional hormone replacement therapy.

Because many women have a fear of cancer and heart disease from the widely taken medications known as Prempro and Premarin, a new pill has been developed and is being tested. This most recent menopause pill is a combination of bone-loss therapy and estrogen and in recent studies Aprela is boasted to have reduced hot flashes from 80%.

The parent company Wyeth also reports that Aprela should be available in about a year, provided it passes the testing and is approved.

So, in the meantime, keep your tank top and your sweater handy for the thirty second temperature explosions followed by the cold chill three minutes later. Carry an extra roll-on deodorant and can of hairspray in your purse, keep cotton swabs handy for make-up touchups, and put a smile on your face. After all, the kids are still on their own, you can come and go as you please without first getting a sitter, the food bill has diminished significantly, and you have some wonderful memories that came with every one those laugh lines.

Wear them proudly! They're proof you've earned time for you.

Dawn M. Olsen is an Advocate for Better Women's Health through Education, Recipe Developer, Soy Food Enthusiast and the Author of "Menopause A to Z - A Definitive Guide to Modern Menopause available online now at a Find out more about how to deal with menopause symptoms.