Are you at risk for Osteoporosis?
Attend a London Drugs Osteoporosis Screening Clinic, and our pharmacists will identify your risk factors and provide information on how to minimize your risk. We will also test the strength of your bones, and develop a personalized action plan to fit with your wellness goals.
*there is a small fee to attend this clinic; a tax-deductible receipt will be issued.
Today’s woman has little time for
the annoyances and discomforts associated
with the end of her childbearing years… Here is some more information to follow up from part 1.
The dreaded hot flash
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Arguably the most disruptive symptom of menopause, hot flashes affect 80% of women. Although most hot flashes are simply annoying and uncomfortable, for some women, they can be debilitating.
The unpleasant, prickly, hot sensations are caused by a reduction in the body’s output of estrogen. When estrogen levels are lower, the blood vessels close to the skin dilate, giving rise to the sensation of heat.
Hot flashes may occur as often as 20 times a day, or as infrequently as once or twice a month. They typically last for 30 seconds to a few minutes and are unpredictable, occurring at seemingly random moments. When they occur at night, they are often accompanied by intense perspiration and are known as night sweats.
Wearing comfortable, loose clothing is a good way to manage hot flashes. Some women also carry a cooling spray with them, to use as the need arises.
Managing mood swings
Relief helps relieve
within 30 days and is
During menopause and the years leading up to it, many women suffer from mood swings. These can range from general highs and lows to feeling irrational, anxious and/or depressed. These feelings are just as normal and natural for a woman going through menopause as they are for a pre-teen embarking on puberty, and are similarly due to the imbalance/irregularity of hormonal activity within the body.
There are many ways of evening out your mood including going for a long walk, practising yoga, meditation or other calming activity, keeping up with friendships and learning a new skill to practise. Eating healthily,
ensuring you get enough quality sleep, and avoiding tranquillizers and alcohol are also helpful.
Many menopause supplements are formulated to help balance hormones, and bring relief for mood swings. However, if depression and/or anxiety are becoming the norm for you, it would be wise to discuss the issue with your doctor or other health professional. He or she can assess the situation and perhaps prescribe drugs to provide shortterm relief.
Replens* Vaginal Moisturizer & Lubricantis fast-acting, pH-balanced, and replenishes moisture for days.
Vaginal dryness, and associated discomforts, can be very troubling, often resulting in withdrawal from intimacy. This can result in misunderstandings and put stress on otherwise healthy relationships.
While vaginal dryness can occur at any age, it is a common symptom of menopause, and is associated with vaginal atrophy—the thinning of the vaginal walls due to a decline in estrogen output.
Vaginal dryness may be accompanied by itching or stinging around the vaginal opening and the lower part of the vagina, soreness, burning and/or light bleeding during and after intercourse, and increased urinary urgency and frequency. It is a symptom of menopause that few women choose to discuss with friends or health professionals, yet it is relatively easy to resolve.
A number of moisture replacement products/lubricants suitable for the vaginal dryness associated with menopause are available from our stores, including Replens* Gel.
At a loss for words…
One of the most troubling symptoms of menopause is the loss of train of thought, or inability to come up with the right word in a sentence. The name of a movie, your favourite actor, or a common term for something that you’ve known for ever suddenly vanishes into thin air, leaving you feeling frustrated, and younger people thinking you’re forgetful. These “brain freezes” are very common.
Once again, low hormone levels are to blame. Estrogen has a significant impact on the functions of the brain and influences language skills, mood, attention, and a number of other functions, including memory.
Estrogen is directly linked to verbal word fluency—the ability to remember names and words—so as estrogen levels fall, memory is likely to suffer.
Aerobic activities and a diet that includes fruits, vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids can help keep the memory working as it should, and there are a number of natural products that help balance hormone levels and
help clear foggy thinking.
Getting a good night’s sleep is also very important for the memory to work as it should. Many women find that crosswords and memory games/activities can help but the jury is still out on what effect, if any, can be
directly attributed to these passtimes.
Strictly speaking, menopause is defined as the time of life when periods have been absent for one year. However, many women perceive the term to mean the actual transition from having periods to not having them.
Whatever your personal definition, one fact remains: that menopause is simply the passage from one stage of your life to another. Having survived the hormonal ups and downs of puberty, and perhaps also pregnancy, you will be well prepared for surviving menopause.
Menopause is a significant phase in the life of any woman and, just as we all differ in our personalities and opinions, so the experience of menopause differs. Some celebrate it, some pass through it without noticing much, and others may find the emotional and physical changes to be extremely challenging.
For many women, the cessation of periods and the reduced risk of an unwanted pregnancy means they can relax and enjoy life more. Others may feel saddened by the fact they can no longer become mothers.
A newfound joy
Today, the average age of menopause in Canada is 51 years – an age now considered to be youthful. Back in the day, however, the 50s were considered to herald old age. With social changes of the past few decades, we no longer perceive a woman’s role as restricted to giving birth, child-rearing and other homemaking functions. Rather, she is a fully-functioning and free member of society with at least a third of her life still to live.
As a Baby Boomer, she will have learned how to care for her body better, and likely be a role model for the phrase “50 is the new 40.”
Today’s woman of menopausal age keeps her options open and is often searching for a new career, once her child-rearing responsibilities are over. Not one to let the grass grow under her feet, she is both adventurous and worldly. Whether she takes up art or photography, or opts for a surfboarding or ziplining course, she is determined to make the most of her transition.
Today’s woman has little time for
the annoyances and discomforts associated
with the end of her childbearing years…
Although many women would agree that the phase of life known as menopause can be challenging, today’s typical woman-of-acertain-age is far removed from her 20th century counterpart.
Today, menopausal women are primarily from the Baby Boomer generation—and making waves instead of merely treading water. From being newly minted authors, to becoming first time marathoners, women passing through menopause have become powerful, passionate, and playful. In short, they are the new movers and shakers, taking the annoyances of this life transition into stride.
Let’s take a look at some of these annoyances, and how to effectively deal with them, so that you too can enjoy every moment of freedom that menopause provides.
Oops! Managing leakage
Bladder leakage, properly called urinary incontinence or UI, is a common symptom of menopause, although it can affect anyone at any time of life.
The incidence/frequency of involuntary loss of urine becomes more common as we grow older. The loss can range from very minor—you may lose a few drops when you laugh, cough, work out, or pick up heavy objects—to a stream that results in the need to change your clothing or a pad if you use one.
Find the full range of Tena® incontinence products for women—and men—in the pharmacy at London Drugs.
One of the more common causes of UI is a change in hormones affecting the strength of the muscles that control urine flow. (This is why women who are pregnant also experience involuntary loss of urine.)
In addition to slowing bone loss and protecting against heart disease, estrogen also helps keep the bladder and urethra healthy and functioning properly. When estrogen levels fall, these effects gradually weaken and urine can be lost at inappropriate times.
There are a number of means to help control leakage, from lifestyle factors (see following page) to medications and surgery. Most doctors will begin treatment by suggesting lifestyle changes, and will recommend surgery only after other treatments have failed. For most women, using a pad for light to medium leakage, and employing a few lifestyle modifications will provide both relief from UI, and confidence that little mishaps will be taken in stride.
The role of the bladder:
The bladder is a muscular sac that holds urine that has been processed by the kidneys. The average capacity of a woman’s bladder is 14 -16 oz (close to two cups).
The bladder is lined by layers of muscle tissue that stretch to accommodate urine. When the bladder is just over half full, the stretched nerves send a message to the brain that it’s time to urinate. During urination, the muscles that line the bladder contract, and the two sphincter muscles at the bladder’s exit relax to allow urine to flow out into the urethra—the tube through which urine exits the body.
A number of incontinence types can affect the bladder’s ability to work as it should.
Stress incontinence occurs as the result of laughing, coughing, sneezing, and performing movements such as lifting or crouching that put stress on the bladder. Weakening tissues that accompany menopause are a common cause of this type of leakage.
Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles through exercises known as Kegels can help reduce the incidence of stress incontinence.
Overactive bladder or urge incontinence gives rise to the sudden urge to urinate. In fact, urine will often leak as soon as you feel the need to “go.”
This type of incontinence is caused by sudden involuntary contractions of the bladder muscle and is most likely to cause urine leakage during sleep, after drinking fluids, or when you touch water or hear it running.
Overflow incontinence is the frequent leakage of urine without the urge to void, or the inability to pass the normal volume of urine. The amount of urine that exceeds the bladder’s capacity leaks out, but the bladder remains full. It is usually caused by weakness of the bladder muscles and/or constipation, and is more common in men than women.
This type of incontinence is typically a combination of stress incontinence and urge incontinence. If you have both types of incontinence you will usually find that one is more prominent than the other.
Urinary incontinence (a few timely tips)
Don’t cut back on fluids. It may seem counterintuitive, but reducing fluids can result in concentrated urine that can irritate the bladder. Balance your fluid intake throughout the day but have nothing to drink for the 2-3 hours before going to bed, to prevent frequent bathroom trips during the night.
Cut back on caffeine and alcohol consumption. Both are diuretics, increasing the urge to urinate in a hurry. Drinking coffee after consuming alcohol can be especially challenging. Remember that caffeine is in teas and colas as well as coffee. Cranberry, apple and grape juices are easiest on the bladder.
If you are overweight, try to lose a little. Incontinence and obesity are frequently linked because excess weight increases abdominal pressure. One study showed that losing just 10 per cent of body mass if you are obese can reduce the risk of incontinence by 50 percent.*
Do pelvic floor exercises (Kegels). Squeeze or tighten your pelvic floor muscles (those that you use to stop urinating), hold for 10 seconds, then release. Regularly practising these exercises—some women do them at every traffic light—will strengthen the muscles that support the bladder. In turn, you will reduce the sense of urgency and leaking attributable to an overactive bladder.
Visit the washroom before you need to. Since the urge to urinate is often sudden and overwhelming, visit a washroom before you feel the need to.
Know where the washrooms are. This is very important if you are in a large restaurant, a shopping centre, airport or other destination where finding a washroom may require a long walk. If visiting a private home with which you are not familiar, ask your host/s to show you where the washroom is as soon as you arrive.
Retrain your bladder. For many women, the practice of retraining the bladder can be helpful. Choose specific times of day to use the washroom and stick to these as much as possible.
Stop smoking. Studies have shown that people who smoke are more prone to incontinence. Smoking is believed to reduce collagen synthesis and so weaken tissue structures—including the bladder—throughout the body. Smoking can also cause coughing, leading to leakage in people with stress incontinence.
Avoid constipation. Constipation can cause pressure on the bladder. Avoid it by eating high-fibre foods and making sure you drink enough water during the day (6 -8 glasses).
Wear the right clothes. No one with urinary incontinence appreciates having to unbutton jeans, fiddle with snaps, or wriggle out of a jumpsuit when the urge beckons. So dress appropriately in clothes that allow fast action if the need arises.
Wear protection. Today’s incontinence protection is thin, discreet and very comfortable—and the only person to know you have experienced a little mishap will be you…
Stay tuned for part 2!
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Yoga poses are very helpful for maintaining flexibility. Always warm up before stretching (a short walk will do) to prevent pulling a muscle.
We have all seen runners stretching before and after their run, and understand that warming up the muscles is important for preventing strains, but is being flexible important for all of us?
The answer is yes. Maintaining flexibility is important for wellbeing—even more so as we grow older.
Flexibility is a measure of the range of motion around a joint (such as the knee) or a number of joints, (such as in the lower back). While our muscles allow us to move and complete everyday tasks, flexibility or mobility allows us to twist, turn and bend without pulling muscles, ligaments and tendons. When we are young, we are very flexible (think of a baby chewing at her toes) but, as we age, we gradually become stiffer, setting the stage for strains, sprains and joint discomfort. Much of this inflexibility can be prevented by practising stretches, helping to prevent back pain and allowing for more independence in our older years.
Flexibility is primarily impacted by the actual structure of the joint itself—the bone/s, muscles and connective tissues. The form of these structures determines whether you are very flexible or not so much, meaning that someone whose joints are structured to not be flexible will likely never be able to fully do the splits. However, you can improve flexibility or reduce it depending on whether you stretch often, or remain sedentary.
The hip flexors
The position of the hip flexor muscles, shown attached to the bones of the thighs (femurs), pelvis and spine.© Springer Medizin / Science Source
The hip flexors are important muscles that, when inflexible, can give rise to backache, achy hips, and sore knees. We use the hip flexors when running, climbing stairs, dancing and playing tennis as well as during a number of other activities. Properly knows as the iliopsoas, they allow the leg to move up and down and stabilize the spine. Among the strongest muscles in the body, the hip flexors are located in your abdomen, pelvis and upper thigh.
Long periods of sitting, in front of a computer, for example, can lead to shortening of the hip flexor muscles. Since many forms of exercise focus on stretching the thigh muscles (quadriceps) and hamstrings (the muscles at the back of the thigh), the hip flexors can be further compromised.
A variety of stretches can help strengthen the hip flexors and help you to remain flexible and free from back, hip or knee pain. These include gentle lunges, and the Peaceful Warrior pose in yoga (pictured here): Keeping your knee positioned over the ankle, your spine straight, and both feet facing forward with arms raised, push back with the rear leg. Switch legs and repeat. Hold for 20 seconds.
Another helpful exercise is to lie on your back with toes pointing towards the ceiling. Bend one leg and raise it, then pull it gently towards your chest so that your thigh is parallel to your rib cage with your knee remaining bent. Hold for 20 seconds.
Like the hip flexors, the muscles of the shoulders often shorten with age, causing discomfort or pain in the joints. The many shoulder muscles, bones and ligaments work together to facilitate a wide range of movements for the upper body and arms, enable proper posture, and assist other muscle groups to perform movements like pushing and pulling.
You can keep your shoulders flexible, and reduce the risk of shoulder injury by performing the standing shoulder stretch as follows:
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Stand upright and bring your left arm across your chest while holding it at the elbow with the inside of the elbow of your right arm. Do not bend the left arm but simply stretch it until you feel the tension in the back of your left shoulder. You can also perform this exercise by pressing your left elbow with the palm of your right hand (as demonstrated by the senior man to the right). Switch arms and repeat. Stretching both arms over your head, palms facing upward and inward will also help keep your shoulders flexible.
The core muscles
Your core consists of the muscles within your abdomen, lower back and hips. These muscles support your spine and pelvic girdle, and facilitate movements of your hips and torso. Stretching exercises that target the core muscles increase flexibility and help prevent injury.
One of the easiest ways of stretching the core muscles that extend your hips and spine is another yoga position known as the Child Pose. First, kneel with the upper part of your feet flat on the floor, toes facing backwards. Your knees should be slightly wider than your shoulders. Lean forward and place your forehead on the floor, then flex your hips and knees to sit back, moving your buttocks as far as possible toward your feet. Place
the back of your hands on the floor next to your feet. Hold this position for 20 seconds before extending your arms in front of your head, placing your palms flat on the floor to deepen the stretch. This pose will also stretch your shoulders.
To continue improving your flexibility, you might want to sign up for a stretch or yoga class with your local rec centre or fitness firm. Preventing loss of flexibility will go a long way towards forestalling injury and the stiffness we associate with aging.
Your lips: Along with your eyes, they express your emotions and,
through kissing, help you show affection for those close to your
For many women, the lips are the most fussed over feature, the average woman buying six lip-related products a year. There is even a “lipstick index” suggesting that women spend more on makeup during a recession than they do in better financial times. Although the jury’s out on the accuracy of the lipstick index, one thing remains certain: that we all want our lips to be as soft, moisturized, and appealing as possible.
Why do we have lips?
Human lips have a number of functions, including the facilitation of speech (try saying “pop” without using your lips) and eating. Lips also allow us to convey our emotions to others. When we are happy, we smile, and when we are angry or sad, our lips often turn down at the corners, or we press them together. Although many animals have lips, only humans have such a well-defined demarcation between the actual lip and the skin of the face, enhancing expression. This is known as the vermilion border.
When you have diabetes you are trying hard to keep your blood glucose levels from going too high. You watch what you eat, you exercise, and you take your medication. But do you ever think about low blood glucose?
Low blood glucose is “the other side of the coin” of diabetes management. Even though it is essential to keep glucose levels from getting too high, avoiding low blood glucose is very important too.
Canadians love their summers, and spending time outdoors is one of the greatest warm-weather pleasures. In part 1 we shared 4 tips to help make sure nothing disrupts the fun, here are 3 more tips:
#1 – Sunburn
Every year, and often despite the best intentions, people are burned by the sun. This year, like last, it appears that wet weather will be the norm until summer arrives, meaning it will be easier to sustain a sunburn during those first enthusiastic exposures to the sun. Why? because the sun will be higher in the sky and the UV rays more direct/intense.
Remember to use a broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (see pages 12-13) and cover up with a long-sleeved shirt and sunhat—or stay in the shade—between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm.