Stick It to Menopause
Fifty-three postmenopausal women were split into two groups, one receiving traditional acupuncture and the other group got sham treatments for 10 weeks. Those who received acupuncture experienced less severe hot flashes and mood swings compared to women who got the sham treatment but did not decrease the rates of other problems. The acupuncture was independent of the changes in hormone levels that lead to menopause and the symptoms women experience. Researchers believe that acupuncture should be offered to women who are unable or unwilling to use hormone replacement therapy. The complete study can be found online at Acupuncture in Medicine.
Men Have Hormonal Shifts Too
Experts estimate that more than 5 million men suffer from hair loss, lack of concentration, mood swings, decreased desire for sex, weight gain and fatigue, all due to age-related hormone changes referred to as menopause in women. "This disorder is not something that should be ignored," said Robert Brannigan, MD, urologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He believes that male menopause (male hypogonadism) is a highly prevalent disorder with 95 percent of cases left undiagnosed and untreated. The hormonal shifts in men occur more slowly than the shifts experienced by women. In men, testosterone levels drop about one percent every year starting in a male's late thirties. Male hypogonadism may be treated with hormone replacement therapy via gels, patches, injections or pellet implants.
Not Only Due to Estrogen Loss
Up to 70 percent of new mothers experience symptoms of depression within the first week after giving birth. While, the symptoms dissipate in most cases, up to 13 percent of women experience clinical level postpartum depression (PPD). Fluctuations in estrogen have been to blame but now new research reveals that, while estrogen levels drop 100 to 1000 fold after giving birth, levels of the enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) increase dramatically throughout the brain. MAO-A is responsible for breaking down neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, and, ultimately, for controlling our moods. By balancing MAO-A, this research “could have an impact on prevention and treatment of postpartum depression in the future", says lead author Julia Sacher.