October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and World Menopause Awareness Month. Many might not be aware, but for some breast cancer and menopause go hand in hand. According to Susan B. Komen, women who go through menopause later in life have an increased risk of breast cancer compared to women who go through menopause earlier. It’s important to stay educated, know the symptoms, spread awareness, be supportive and learn how to tackle these new challenges that can occur during the second stage of life.
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
What is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
Every October people everywhere show their support to people affected by breast cancer. National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a campaign to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. Next year, new breast cancer diagnoses are expected to number more than 200,000 for women and more than 2,000 for men.
How Do People Get Breast Cancer?
According to Mayo Clinic, researchers have identified hormonal, lifestyle and environmental factors may increase your chance of breast cancer. Some factors associated with breast cancer are:
- General aging
- Rapid change in hormones (menopause)
- Family history of breast cancer
- Radiation exposure
- Beginning your period before age 12 increases your risk
- Going through menopause at an older age
- Having your first child at an older age
- Never being pregnant
- Excessively drinking alcohol
What Are Symptoms of Breast Cancer?
According to the CDC, symptoms are:
- A lump in the breast or armpit
- Swelling of the breast
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
- Redness or flakey skin
- Inverted nipple
- Pain in the nipple
- Nipple discharge
- Any change in the size or shape of your breast
- Pain in any area of the breast
What is a Breast Cancer Screening Like?
According to the CDC, breast cancer screening tests include mammograms and breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. According to cancer.org, “A mammogram uses a machine designed to look only at breast tissue. The machine takes x-rays at lower doses than usual x-rays. Because these x-rays don’t go through tissue easily, the machine has 2 plates that compress or flatten the breast to spread the tissue apart. This gives a better picture and allows less radiation to be used.”
Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
According to the CDC, “a breast MRI uses magnets and radio waves to take pictures of the breast. A breast MRI is used along with mammograms to screen women who are at high risk for getting breast cancer. Because breast MRIs may appear abnormal even when there is no cancer, they are not used for women at average risk.”
In addition to these screenings, a breast self-awareness exam is useful. According to the CDC, “being familiar with how your breasts look and feel can help you notice symptoms such as lumps, pain or changes in size that may be of concern. These could include changes found during a breast self-exam. You should report any changes that you notice to your doctor or health care provider.”
How Can I Prevent Breast Cancer?
Ways to prevent breast cancer, according to Mayo Clinic, are:
- Ask your doctor about breast cancer screenings
- Getting to know your breasts through self-examination to feel for abnormalities
- Drinking alcohol in moderation
- Exercise frequently
- Maintain a healthy weight and diet
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Kansas City
According to The Kansas City Star, “health experts worry that the pandemic has made women fearful of getting their mammograms, meaning any breast cancer might be detected after it’s advanced too far.” Most insurance companies cover the full cost of a basic mammogram, but if you or someone you know doesn’t have insurance, not to worry, there are other options.
According to The Kansas City Star:
- Swope Health is offering $25 walk-in mammograms for women ages 50 and older from 9 a.m. to noon every Tuesday and Thursday at Swope Health Central, 3801 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 816-923-5800. No appointment is required.
- The Show Me Healthy Women program offers free breast and cervical cancer exams for low-income women aged 35-64.
- The Early Detection Program provides free or low-cost breast and cervical cancer screenings for women aged 40-64 who don’t have health insurance. 877-277-1368.
- The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas Health Department’s Pink the Dotte program offers free screenings. 913-573-8855.
- The American Cancer Society provides a link to find a health center near you that offers low-cost or free cancer screenings with no insurance required. Findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov.
World Menopause Awareness Month
What is World National Menopause Awareness Month?
October is World Menopause Awareness Month, a month dedicated to educating women about menopause. This month helps women understand the possible health issues associated with menopause.
Perimenopause refers to the time when your body makes the transition into menopause. According to Mayo Clinic, this time period can occur anytime between your mid-30s to early 40s. “The level of estrogen — the main female hormone — in your body rises and falls unevenly during perimenopause. Your menstrual cycles may lengthen or shorten, and you may begin having menstrual cycles in which your ovaries don’t release an egg (ovulate). You may also experience menopause-like symptoms, such as hot flashes, sleep problems and vaginal dryness.”
Menopause marks the end of your menstrual cycles and is diagnosed after you have gone 12 months without your period. The average age women go through menopause is 51.
According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flashes
- Irregular periods
- Night sweats/sleep problems
- Mood changes
- Weight gain/slow metabolism
- Thinning hair
- Dry skin
- Loss of breast fullness
Many women experience menopausal symptoms for a decade or longer. This period of your life is called postmenopause.
How To Be a Good Partner
Menopause can be a challenging time for both men and women. Learn how to support your partner during this difficult transitional period.
Education is key! Learn the symptoms of menopause and figure out how to avoid triggers and how to be sympathetic. Avoid asking your spouse questions that could make her self-conscious.
According to Very Well Health, “If mood swings occur during menopause, remind yourself that they are largely influenced by the depletion of hormones. Rather than pointing this out to a loved one, try to adjust your response and not take them personally.”
Fine-Tune Your Relationship Skills
Start fine-tuning your relationship by discussing menopause and reassuring them you will be there to weather the storm. According to Very Well Health, here are some topics to go over:
- When to leave your partner alone
- When your partner needs your support
- When it’s time to walk away from an argument
- How to calmly discuss situations
How to Communicate
Communication is key in any relationship, but especially during this transitional period! Communicate by leading with patience, avoiding personalizing moods and putting in the effort.
How Tackle Menopause
Most women face the changes that menopause brings with some trepidation. Once a woman has reached this stage, her body no longer produces the same level of estrogen or progesterone hormones. Because of these decreased hormones, menopause is often accompanied by a host of physical, emotional and sexual health problems including:
- Insomnia and Depression
- Emotional Changes (anxiety and irritability)
- Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
- Dry Skin
- Vaginal Dryness
- Decreased Libido
- Reduced Mental Focus
- Joint Pain
Following menopause, this hormonal imbalance causes many women to also face a higher risk of coronary disease and higher cholesterol levels, as well as loss of bone mass that can lead to osteoporosis. Hormone Treatment for Menopause can help.
What is Bioidentical Hormone Treatment for Menopause? (BHRT)
KC Wellness Center uses customized hormone treatments for women who have entered menopause or are post-menopausal. This therapy is different from all others because it’s made from natural components, using the same hormones that were in your body but have decreased through aging and the onset of menopause. Since this treatment is comprised of the identical chemical and molecular structure that your body naturally produced, it has numerous benefits over synthetic hormones.
How does BHRT help the symptoms of menopause?
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, or BHRT, uses hormones that are identical to the ones you have lost with the onset of menopause. Although your body is no longer producing these hormones, BHRT will re-introduce the hormones you’ve lost, safely and effectively. Unlike women who take synthetic hormones, patients using this treatment experience few side effects. Your symptoms will begin to disappear soon after you begin your customized treatment. Once your original hormone levels have been restored, you’ll begin to look and feel like you did years—even decades—earlier. The risks associated with menopause and post-menopause will being to reverse themselves.
Your First Visit for BHRT for Menopause
When you visit KC Medical & Wellness Center, we will set aside time to talk to you about your overall health, including your health history and the changes you’ve experienced with the onset of menopause. Then, we will give you a comprehensive medical exam and blood tests that will help us determine your customized plan. This plan is designed just for your body and may include various levels of natural estrogen and progesterone. After your treatment begins, we will ask you to return to our Center for weekly, bi-weekly or monthly follow-up appointments.
We’ve helped many women regain their physical and emotional health and well-being through BHRT menopause therapy. Call or contact KC Medical & Wellness Center today to make an appointment. Visit kcmedicalwc.com, or call us at (816) 214-5276.