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About Sara Purves

Sara attended the Claude Watson School for the Arts, a prestigious Toronto based high school for gifted creative students. She then moved on to the Ontario College of Art and Design for 4 years where she majored in Environmental Design. After graduation in 1993, Sara pursued many creative arenas including: retail store design, fashion design, had gallery exhibitions of her paintings, and volunteered in many areas of the arts before settling into a career in graphic design. Sara was employed as art director and graphic designer at several well known advertising agencies and creative design shops where she worked with a variety of clients. Sara is also someone who's unwillingly entered early perimenopause and muddles her way through frustrations and solutions.

Do people divorce more during perimenopause?

It seems like all around me people are getting divorced or separated. It occurred to me that this seems to happen a lot for couples in the 38 to 50 age range.

Perimenopause also takes place during that time. Hmm… Could there be a correlation?

Do our hormones ruin our chances of a good relationship?

Something I have been toying with is the idea that perimenopause changes the patience/tolerence level in women. In my twenties and early thirties, many things didn’t bother me.

Men sure are able to get away with more when women are younger. When we reach 40+, we have less patience or tolerance for men’s actions and we let you know it. Then the dynamic of the relationship changes and becomes increasingly more uncomfortable. The women are changing but men will still operate business as usual. It pushes us women to our limits, then boom, the relationship is over.

So I ask… Does perimenopause make me less patient? Or does it just open my eyes and make me see the crap more clearly?

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Man-o-pause is out there people – and it aint pretty!

ABC’s Good Morning Amersica did an article on “manopause” recently. Since you are reading this blog, it’s likely that you are going through something hormonally yourself, so you likely know the symptoms. But did you know the same thing happens to men. Of course, we hardly ever hear speak of this.

Personally I get so sick of hearing men talk about women’s hormones. They use it as an excuse for everything… “must be her time of the month”… “someone’s hormones are acting up”….

Well look out men! You go through it too! And we women don’t love being with you either. You get bitchy, you gain weight, you’re moody…. it’s not pretty.

Here is the article. It’s worth a read.

‘Manopause’ Hits Middle-Aged Men
Increase in Testosterone via Injections or Gels Could Help Problem

While men may not suffer hot flashes like women who experience menopause, middle-aged men’s bodies do undergo major changes — including hormonal ones.

At age 50, John Upton said he hit midlife and hit rock bottom.

Upton, a documentary filmmaker and father of four, was newly-divorced and feeling more lost than ever.

“It’s like you are looking at yourself, and you don’t recognize the person that you are seeing,” Upton said.

He began searching for a way out of his rut — a downward spiral he said left him depressed, overweight and hopeless.

“Some people my age say, ‘Well, I’m just going to age gracefully,’” he said. “Obesity, depression, lethargy [and] despair are not graceful qualities in my book.”

He learned what he was going through was not a fleeting midlife crisis, but a very real medical condition.

Doctors call it andropause. It’s similar to the hormonal drop that most women experience as they grow older, but more gradual.

Men lose about one percent of their testosterone every year, beginning at age 30. Unlike female menopause, which usually runs its course in a matter of years, so-called “male menopause,” can last decades.

“What I was seeing was hundreds and hundreds of relationships falling apart at midlife, just when the couples could really be enjoying their lives,” Jed Diamond, author of “Male Menopause,” said. “The depression that accompanies these kinds of changes can kill men at early ages that don’t need to die.”

Doctors say millions of American men suffer the symptoms of andropause without even knowing what it is.

Symptoms like fatigue, depression, anger, anxiety, memory loss, relationship problems, loss of sex drive and erectile dysfunction are common and often written off as a normal sign of aging.

Upton’s doctors recommended testosterone injections, but mandated that his hormone and blood pressure levels be tested regularly. The shots, he says, gave him a new lease on life.

“I will take the next 10 years as I am, because the way I was in those old pictures, I don’t, I wouldn’t want to live another 30 years like that,” he said.

While prescriptions for testosterone products like injections and gels have tripled in the last few years, they’re not for everyone.

“We know that prostate cancer grows in the presence of testosterone,” the UCLA Urology Program’s Dr. Christopher Saigal said. “When you remove it, the testosterone from the body, the prostate cancer goes away.”

But you won’t hear any complaints from Upton. Today he’s remarried and his new wife Elizabeth Upton reports her husband acts like a man 20 years younger — even in the bedroom.

Men suffering from the symptoms of male menopause should go their doctors and have them test for active testosterone, which is the kind that can cause symptoms if your numbers are low. Some physicians only measure total testosterone, which may not give the full picture.

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I swear I’ll swear more during perimenopause

Now this is going to sound weird to some people but… I’ve tapered off my swearing over the past several years. I left the advertising world – FYI if you’ve working in advertising you’ll know that swearing is commonplace (actually its mandatory) – then I had a baby – FYI you’re not supposed to swear in front of your child.

Anyhoo, I’ve noticed all these health problems since then and I’ve realized that I no longer have my most favorite release… the “F” world.

To me there is nothing more satisfying than the immediate and emphatic release of a good swear word. But alas, I no longer have the appropriate place or audience to provide me with this release.

I can’t do it at home because my daughter is there and my nanny would probably grab her purse and quit in fear.

I can’t do it at work because I work in a children’s hospital and, although I’ve never actually read it in the employee handbook, I’m guessing swearing is frowned upon.

So when I get frustrated I end up clenching my jaw and getting a headache. Normally spewing out a sentence with about 2 or 3 swear words in it would release the bad energy and I could move on very quickly. Now… well… I just get hives and a headache. Did I mention my face is breaking out lately and I’m about this close to wanting to smoke.

I’m really not sure why society has chosen a few words and decided that we shouldn’t say them. Clearly we want to say them. We do say them. And it feels so good to say them. Society let’s us do many other things that are far worse. So I say LET ME SWEAR. I NEED IT. IT MAKES ME A MORE FUNCTIONAL PERSON.

Seriously. I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. I don’t even eat red meat for God’s sake AND I recycle. At least let say #@*@ just as often and emphatically as Tony Soprano. I don’t ask for much.

I’m not at all a violent person, so a punching bag won’t do it for me. And don’t tell me to meditate because I’ll snap. Perimenopause is a hard enough time to get through. You can take away my coffee, my alcohol and my waistline, but you’re not taking the “F” word from me. No, that’s where I draw the line.

Who’s with me?

Sara has spoken.

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Animal Research Suggests Perimenopause is a Critical Time For Women’s Health

ScienceDaily

Research in monkeys suggests that the perimenopause — the five to 10 years before a woman’s menopause — is a critical time for preventing heart disease and osteoporosis.

“Research in animals suggests that the five years before menopause are when bone is lost and when heart vessel disease begins to accelerate,” according to Jay Kaplan, Ph.D., from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, who spoke today at the annual meeting of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists in Boston. “Waiting until menopause is not the time to start thinking about prevention.”

Kaplan, a professor of comparative medicine, was invited to summarize his extensive research on how hormone levels affect health. His work has focused primarily on how stress during the younger years can interfere with ovulation and reduce estrogen levels, which can set the stage for heart disease later in life.

“But, this isn’t just a problem in younger women,” he said. “At perimenopause, all women are affected by variably changing and ultimately declining estrogen levels. Perimenopause is a time of increased vulnerability to chronic disease.”

Women have traditionally been considered immune from heart disease until after menopause, when their estrogen levels dramatically drop. However, Kaplan’s research has shown that in monkeys, the process starts much earlier. He found that stress in the younger years can reduce estrogen levels and lead to the buildup of fatty deposits in the blood vessels (atherosclerosis) that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

“Our research adds to the growing body of evidence that cardiovascular health after menopause is influenced by hormone levels many years earlier,” said Kaplan. “Our monkey studies showed that a deficiency of estrogen before menopause places these females on a high-risk trajectory, even if they got estrogen treatment after menopause.”

For women in perimenopause who intend to take hormone therapy, Kaplan said the research suggests that perimenopause may be the best time to start.

“The results emphasize that primary prevention of heart disease should start pre-menopausally,” he said.

Kaplan’s animal studies found that treating the estrogen-deficient monkeys with estrogen before menopause markedly slowed the growth of atherosclerosis. Kaplan said the findings were consistent with the hypothesis that estrogen inhibits the development of vessel disease, but may be ineffective if the disease already exists.

“Applied to women, this lifetime study suggests that having an estrogen deficiency in the pre-menopausal years predicts a higher rate of heart disease after menopause, even when treated with hormone replacement therapy after menopause,” said Kaplan.

Kaplan said that some physicians advocate women taking oral contraceptives right up until menopause, and then beginning hormone therapy. He said animal research suggests that oral contraceptives can be effective in heart disease protection.

However, the Women’s Health Initiative, the largest study to date to test the effectiveness of hormone therapy in women, found that treatment with combination therapy (estrogen and progestin) increased risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and stroke. As a result of the study, many doctors advise that women not take hormone therapy to prevent heart disease.

But critics of that study say it didn’t involve enough younger women to see if taking the drugs earlier can be effective for prevention. A theory that there is a “window of opportunity” for hormone therapy to be effective for prevention is being tested in a five-year study of peri-menopausal women ages 45 to 54. Funded by the Kronos Longevity Research Institute, the study is evaluating an oral tablet containing estrogen, a skin patch delivering estrogen and a placebo.

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Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. The system comprises 1,187 acute care, psychiatric, rehabilitation and long-term care beds and is consistently ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report.

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What do you do when you can’t get past your GP to a specialist?

So I had my visit to my GP last week… it’s taken me a week to cool down enough to blog about it with somewhat less emotionally…

A new doctor was there subbing for my usual one who is on mat leave. So I thought, “great! a new guy! maybe I’ll get somewhere”. I riffled off my perimenopausal symptoms and he immediately agreed that I was bang on the money in determining that I indeed am in perimenopause.

Great. At least some acknowledgment.

So, I asked him if he’d refer me to an endocrinologist (in Canada we can make a move without a referral. We can’t just call one up on our own, we have to go through the GP gatekeepers). Anyway, he said, no I’ll do your blood work first because they’ll ask me for that before they’ll even see you. He then went on to admit that my hormones levels would likely be in the normal range, but that at least we’d have a baseline to work with for the future.

So I said, great, let’s do it. So we did. (I couldn’t even get my other GP to even do the hormone level tests, so this seems like major steps forward for me).

One week later, surprise surprise, the hormone levels come back in the “normal” range.

We expected that right? Right.

So what does he do? He tells me, no I can’t refer you to an endocrinologist or a gyno because your levels have to be abnormal before they’ll take you. And from the GP level, he doesn’t think there’s anything he can do other than put me on the Pill or give me antidepressants. Fabulous choices!

Pardon my French but WTF!!!.

So if I can’t get past the gatekeeper, I can’t help or medically explore the perimenopausal symptoms I have now. I have to wait until I’m in full menopause before a doctor can help me.

That’s ridiculous!!!!!!!! I am furious.

So plan B… I made an appointment with a new GP. I’m hoping that she’ll have a more progressive approach to this. I can’t possibly be the only woman to experience early perimenopause. I know I’m not because I talk to you guys on Twitter and I know you feel my pain.

A couple of blogs ago, I mentioned that I had an appointment with a naturopathic doctor. I had canceled that appointment because I had that blood work done with my GP and I didn’t want to confuse matters. But I guess I’ll rebook that as it seems to be one of my only options now.

I’m annoyed by the system and it’s reactionary methods. I know what I have NOW and I want to deal with it NOW, not later when it’s worse.

Is anyone else in this boat with me or am I rowing it alone?

Sara

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