Cervical cancer: the HPV test replaces the Pap test in Quebec

Cervical cancer is a disease mainly caused by human papillomaviruses (HPV), which can be easily detected with an HPV test or Pap test. While the Pap test was recommended as a primary test in Quebec, the HPV test, which has proven to be more effective, will gradually replace it.

In our article we help you understand the difference between these tests, why this transition and where to get tested. If you have any additional questions, please contact a healthcare professional.

Human Papillomavirus and cervical cancer in Canada

Canada faces a high prevalence of HPV infections. More than 70% of the population is infected with this virus, which increases the risk of triggering several diseases and cancers, including cervical cancer.

In 2023, approximately 1150 people in Canada were diagnosed with cervical cancer. It is therefore crucial to follow health recommendations in terms of screening in order to prevent, detect and limit cases of cancer.

Cervical cancer screening tests

There are two screening tests that can be done to detect and prevent cervical cancer: the Pap test and the HPV test. In both cases, it is a simple and quick gynecological examination, which consists of taking a sample of the cells of the cervix using special tools. The sample is then analyzed differently depending on the test.

The Pap test

The Pap test can detect the presence of abnormal cells and precancerous bonds. Although this test is effective, it has limitations such as the possibility of false negatives, i.e. not detecting any anomalies present.

Recommended from the age of 21 to 65, the Pap test should be repeated every 2 years. After the age of 65, the Pap test could be maintained as an additional examination in certain circumstances

The HPV test

The HPV test can detect the presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV). It therefore makes it possible to detect the virus that can potentially lead to the development of cervical cancer.

HPV testing is now recommended from 25 to 65 years of age and should be done every 5 years. This five-year interval is recommended because of the increased sensitivity of the test. In addition, the period between HPV infection and the appearance of precancerous lesions is very long.

In fact,  the HPV test has a sensitivity of nearly 95%, compared to 55% for the Pap test. The HPV test is therefore considered to be more effective in detecting cervical cancer compared to the Pap test.

gynecological exam HPV test for cervical cancer

Transition from Pap smear to HPV smear in Quebec

Faced with this reality, Quebec and INESSS have issued new recommendations and have been considering a gradual transition from Pap tests to HPV tests for several years.

While the Pap test was recommended for Canadian women during their gynecological examination, it is the  HPV test that becomes the primary test for detecting cervical cancer, before the Pap test. This decision is driven by the effectiveness and benefits of HPV testing, including early detection of precancerous lesions and spacing out screening tests.

INESSS Recommendations for Cervical Cancer

In summary, INESSS recommends the following protocol:

  • The HPV test becomes the primary test for detecting cervical cancer.
  • It should be done from 25 to 65 years of age, in 5-year intervals, whether you are vaccinated or not. Vaccination does not protect against all types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer.
  • If the HPV test results are positive, the Pap test can still be used as a background. Other tests, such as a colposcopy, may be recommended by a healthcare professional.
  • These recommendations do not apply to people who are at high risk of developing cervical cancer, such as people who are immunosuppressed.

Get an HPV test in Montreal

In Quebec, the transition from the Pap test to the HPV test will be gradual. As of today (February 2024), the HPV test is not available in all clinics. However, some clinics such as ELNA Medical have been able to anticipate the transition and already offer the HPV test, in addition to the Pap test, as a screening test.

HPV test in RAMQ clinic

To perform an HPV test, it is necessary to obtain a referral from a doctor. He or she will refer you to a professional who can perform the test (gynecologist, family doctor, nurse, etc.). The consultation is covered by the RAMQ.

The samples are then sent for analysis to a public (hospital) or private (laboratory) body. For the public, the analyses are reimbursed but delays can be up to 6 months.

HPV testing in a private clinic

If you have an urgent situation or don’t want to wait, you can make an appointment at a private clinic. Wait times are almost non-existent, and you can easily get an appointment on the day.

In addition, the doctor performs the HPV test during the consultation, so you don’t have to make a second appointment. The samples are then sent for analysis to a private laboratory in our CDL Laboratoires subsidiaries. Results are obtained quickly in 2 to 5 days.

Please note that the consultation and test are reimbursed by most private insurances. Don’t hesitate to contact our clinics to get screened for cervical cancer!

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Breast cancer: causes, symptoms and mammography screening

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. Overall, the risk of a Canadian woman developing breast cancer during her lifetime is 1 in 8.

In Quebec, the Québec Breast Cancer Screening Program (PQDCS) recommends that women be screened every 2 years between the ages of 50 and 69.

At ELNA Médical, we are deeply committed to the fight against breast cancer and want to share important information to raise awareness and encourage prevention. In our article, discover the causes and symptoms, and how to diagnose it. For more information, contact a healthcare professional.

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What causes breast cancer?

There is no single cause or trigger of breast cancer. In fact, certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of the disease:

  • Age: The likelihood of breast cancer increases with age: at the age of 30, the risk of contracting the disease is 1 in 209; at the age of 50, the risk is 1 in 42; at the age of 70, the risk is 1 in 25.
  • Family history: Women who have family members (mother, sister, daughter) who have had breast cancer have an increased risk.
  • Hormonal exposure: Prolonged exposure to oestrogen, through hormonal contraception or hormone replacement therapy, can increase the risk.
  • Early menarche and late menopause: interruption of the menstrual cycle after the age of 55 increases the risk of breast cancer.
  • Lifestyle: smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and poor nutrition can all be risk factors.
  • Obesity: Women who are overweight or obese after the menopause have a slightly higher risk.
  • High breast density: High breast density, as seen on a mammogram, is a potential risk factor.

For most women, the only risk factor is their age. Any concerns about this should be discussed with your doctor.

What are the signs of breast cancer?

Early detection is crucial to the successful treatment of breast cancer. It is therefore essential to be aware of potential symptoms, such as :

  • A lump or mass in the breast: A firm, painless lump is often the first sign.
  • Shape and size of the breast: The breast may swell, change shape and the nipple may retract inwards.
  • Changes to the skin of the breast: Rash, redness, thickening or wrinkling of the skin.
  • Nipple discharge: Bloody or clear discharge from the nipple.
  • Pain in the breast: Although pain is not always present, it can be a symptom.

These changes can be early signs of breast cancer, but they can also indicate another non-cancerous condition. In fact, around 8 out of 10 lumps are non-cancerous. However, a doctor should be consulted to pinpoint the exact cause of the lump.

Early detection of breast cancer by mammography

Breast cancer screening mammography

All women should self-examine their breasts regularly to spot any unusual changes. As you approach your fifties, it’s also important to take an interest in mammography screening.

Breast mammography uses X-ray technology to detect abnormalities, such as lumps or calcifications, before they become palpable. This examination offers a number of advantages.

  1. Early detection: Mammography can identify problems before they even become noticeable.
  2. Treatment options: Early detection offers a wider range of options, often less invasive than heavy treatments such as chemotherapy.
  3. Reduced mortality: Regular mammography reduces the risk of death from breast cancer.
  4. Covered by the RAMQ: In Quebec, the provincial health insurance scheme covers mammography, and has even launched a special programme to encourage women to undergo regular screening.

Québec Breast Cancer Screening Program

From the age of 50, all women in Quebec receive an invitation letter every 2 years, which is in fact a personalised medical prescription. This allows them to have a screening mammogram at one of the Designated Screening Center (CDD), without going to a doctor. If you have not received a letter of invitation, you must obtain a prescription from a doctor.

Our radiology partner Radimed is part of the Designated Screening Center (CDD) and offers screening mammography in Westmount, Pointe-Claire and Pierrefonds. Contact Radimed to find out more.

Don’t hesitate to contact our clinics if you have any questions about breast cancer and screening options. Your health is our priority.

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Breast cancer is a battle we can win through prevention, early detection and action. At ELNA Medical, we are here to support you every step of the way.

How do I know if I have an STI? – Get tested!

More than 40,000 Quebecers are diagnosed with a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) every year. Find out how you can contract an STI, what the main symptoms are and how to get tested if you have any doubts about your sexual health.

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What is an STI?

Formerly known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), STIs are infections transmitted through sexual contact (vaginal, oral, anal), blood or from mother to child during pregnancy. The most commonly observed STDs are chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, genital herpes, hepatitis B and C, human papillomavirus (HPV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

How do you catch an STI and why get tested?

There are several good reasons to get tested. Shelbie Moreau, nurse at ELNA Medical – Old Montreal explains why.

  • You’ve had unprotected sex, recent or not, with someone you know well or not.
  • You’re starting a new relationship and need reassurance.
  • You are in a stable relationship and wish to remove the condom or have a child.
  • You’ve had a relation with someone who already has an infection.
  • You have doubts about your partner’s fidelity.
  • You have shared unprotected sex toys.

To minimize the risk of catching an STI through sexual contact, we strongly recommend using a condom every time you have sex, whatever the circumstances, to protect your health and that of your partner(s).

  • You have shared equipment to use drugs by syringe or inhalation (cocaine).
  • You accidentally pricked yourself with a dirty syringe.

To limit the risks, don’t share your consumption or preparation equipment. Drug use can be dangerous to your health. Talk to your doctor about it.

  • You have had a tattoo or piercing done using non-sterile equipment or in a non-sterile location, such as at a party or on vacation.

Make sure your tattoo or piercing parlor complies with regulations on instrument sterilization.

  • You are in the early stages of pregnancy and would like a follow-up.

What are the symptoms of an STI?

The symptoms of STIs vary considerably depending on the type of infection, but the most common are as follows:

  • Ulcers, bumps or pimples near the genitals, anus or mouth
  • Pain or burning when you urinate
  • Itching, bad odor, discharge or unusual secretions from the genitals or anus
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • In women: vaginal bleeding between periods

However, you may have an STI without knowing it, as most STIs do not cause symptoms. They can also manifest themselves several weeks or months after transmission.

If you’re concerned you may have been exposed to an STI, with or without symptoms, the only way to know for sure is to get tested. Find out more at your STI screening clinic in Old Montreal and Décarie Square.

How do I get tested for STIs?

The best way to get tested is to make an appointment with a doctor or nurse at a screening center.

Before your appointment, it is important to be well prepared:

  • Do not urinate 2 hours before the appointment.
  • Bring your identity card and/or Quebec health insurance card. This will enable us to access your medical history (results of previous screenings, vaccinations, etc.) and advise you more effectively.
  • Be relaxed. Nurses are used to dealing with all kinds of conditions. Screening can take the form of a vaginal, anal or throat swab, or a urine or blood sample. It all depends on the STI targeted.
  • Be prepared to answer intimate questions: don’t be shy about exposing your doubts, discomforts and answering all your nurse’s questions! The more transparent you are about what concerns you and your partner(s), the better we can target infections for screening.
  • For women, your nurse may suggest that you undergo a non-compulsory gynecological examination. In this case, there’s no need to clean your private parts, as the diagnosis will be more effective on a natural genital organ.

Note that STI tests are not refunded by the RAMQ, but are covered by most private health insurance plans.

STI test center in Québec

If you’ve had unprotected sex or experienced another high-risk situation, the only way to be sure of your status is to get tested. ELNA Medical offers its clinics in Old Montreal and Décarie for rapid screening, with or without symptoms.

Women, men, transgender people and people of all sexual orientations, our nurses and doctors ensure your comfort and confidentiality throughout the process.

Once you’ve taken the test, you’ll receive your results within 24 hours (for the most common STIs). If the test results are positive, your doctor will be able to quickly recommend a treatment suited to your condition.

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ELNA Medical offers you rapid, confidential screening and treatment of STIs in our designated clinics. Simple and effective tests for your peace of mind!

Which contraceptive should you use?

Contraceptives will only prevent unwanted pregnancies if they’re used properly and consistently. If you’re relying on a method that you often forget to use, that has unwanted side effects, or that is difficult or bothersome to use, you’re likely to stop using it or not to use it all the time. That’s why it’s important to use a method of birth control that suits you and your lifestyle.

When you’re thinking about what kind of contraceptive to use, make sure to consider all the details. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Which will work best with my schedule and habits?
  • Are there extra health benefits?
  • Which have possible unwanted effects or features?
  • Am I protected against sexually transmitted diseases?
  • Which kind is the most appropriate for my current state of health or medical history?
  • How effective is it?

Barrier options

There are several kinds of birth control that work by keeping the sperm from reaching the egg. These normally have to be applied or inserted just before intercourse and removed afterwards. They include:

  • diaphragms
  • cervical caps
  • vaginal sponges
  • male condoms
  • female condoms

Most of these come in several varieties, and it may be necessary to try a few of any given kind before you find one that has the right fit and sensation. Each has advantages and disadvantages. For example, condoms are the only type of birth control that also offer reliable protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Whichever barrier option of birth control you choose to try, make sure that you are familiar and confident on its proper insertion and use. Your doctor and pharmacist are excellent educational resources for this sort of information.

Be aware that using oil-based products like lubricants, or other products like powders or perfumes may decrease the barrier method’s effectiveness or cause irritation. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any concerns.


Perhaps the best-known method of birth control is “the pill.” These pills are taken once a day. There are many different kinds of birth control pills available. Some use a single hormone and some use a combination; some have lower doses and some have higher doses of estrogen; some have a 28-day cycle of pills and some have 21 or 84 pills; and some have a 7-day period without pills, and others can have less. Talk to your doctor about which would be best for you. You may need to try a few before you find one you feel perfectly comfortable with.

Long-term options

There are forms of birth control that last a long time and only need to be changed very infrequently. If you have a hard time remembering to take a birth control pill every day or if you’re not planning on starting a family in the near future, these birth control options may suit you better:


  • contraceptive patch (changed weekly)
  • hormonal injection or implants (received once every 3 months)
  • vaginal ring (used every 4 weeks)
  • progestin-releasing intrauterine systems (changed once every 5 years)
  • progestin-releasing implant (changed once every 3 years)


  • copper intrauterine devices (lasts 30 months to 10 years)


For people who have no intention of having children in the future, surgery can be a viable option.

For men, the usual operation is a vasectomy. This operation involves cutting or blocking the tube that carries sperm from the testes to the penis. It can now be done in a very short time using local anaesthetic and requiring only a small puncture in the skin, with no stitches needed.

For women, the usual surgery is a tubal ligation: the fallopian tubes are cut, sealed, tied, or blocked, making a permanent barrier between sperm and egg. This is usually done via laparoscopy, using a small incision; the woman can normally go home the same day, but it is a more complicated operation than a vasectomy. Both of these methods are designed to be permanent, but an operation called reanastomosis that unblocks or reconnects the tube(s) can restore fertility in roughly half of all cases.

Other Methods of birth control

Other, “natural” forms of birth control include the use of withdrawal, calendar tracking, basal body temperature and cervical mucus. It’s important to discuss with your doctor which method is most appropriate for you. Depending on your individual circumstance, you may need more than 1 method.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2023. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Contraception

Did you know that many medical services, as introduction to contraception, can be provided by our nurses, without having to go through a doctor? We’re here for you when you need us most. Book an appointment a nurse at a clinic nearest you.

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Menopause: symptoms and hormone therapy

Menopause is an important health issue. This health feature offers information about menopause: how to tell if you’re entering it, the role of estrogen replacement therapy, and tips on making yourself more comfortable – and staying healthy – as your body adjusts to this new phase.

Menopause – a change of life

All women eventually enter menopause, also known as “the change” or climacteric, which marks the end of a woman’s reproductive life. The stage you go through before actual menopause is called perimenopause, which takes place over about two to eight years (the average is four years) as the body undergoes its hormone-driven changes. This is the time when levels of estrogen, progesterone, and androgen start to decrease. The ovaries gradually stop releasing follicles (eggs), eventually ending your reproductive stage of life. As the body adjusts to this new stage, certain signs and symptoms can occur.


During perimenopause, you might start to experience some of the symptoms of menopause but still have menstrual periods. However, menstrual periods tend to become more and more irregular during this time. You’ve officially entered menopause when your doctor has confirmed that you’re no longer ovulating (there’s a special blood test to check this), or when you haven’t had a single period in a whole year. Keep in mind that, unless your doctor tells you for sure, or until the full year is up, there’s still a chance you can get pregnant.

Women are most likely to be between ages 40 and 60 years when they experience natural menopause – the average age is about 51. If you begin to go through menopause before the age of 40, it’s called premature or early menopause. Menopause occurring after the age of 55 is considered a late menopause.

Induced menopause

Some women experience induced menopause, which can happen for one of three reasons:

  • Surgical menopause is triggered by having both ovaries removed during an operation. Women who have hysterectomies (removal of the uterus, therefore no menstrual periods) may or may not have their ovaries taken out, depending on how extensive the surgery was and why it was done.
  • Chemotherapy-induced menopause is brought on by chemotherapy, usually in the course of being treated for cancer. These drugs can affect the ovaries enough to begin the process but, depending on different factors, chemotherapy-induced menopause isn’t always complete or permanent.
  • Radiation-induced menopause can happen while undergoing radiotherapy for cancer. If the ovaries are exposed to enough radiation, they’ll begin to shut down.

Signs and symptoms of menopause

The signs and symptoms of menopause – and how severe they are – vary so much from woman to woman that it’s hard to know fully what to expect. Some women go through menopause with only a few hot flushes. Others feel most symptoms to the hilt. Some doctors say that the best guide to knowing how you’ll be affected is to get your closest female relatives – mothers, aunts and grandmothers – to tell you about their experiences.

How can you tell if you’re entering menopause? Some signs include:

  • less frequent or erratic periods, which last for fewer days or have a lighter flow (although some women temporarily experience much heavier flows than usual during perimenopause)
  • hot flushes (or flashes) – bursts of feeling extremely hot, accompanied by sweating – which can range from being mildly annoying to intensely uncomfortable (some women are awakened by night sweats that literally drench their sheets)
  • insomnia or difficulty staying asleep
  • mood changes
  • vaginal dryness and itching
  • decreased libido
  • headaches
  • difficulty concentrating
  • urinary incontinence (leakage)

You should know that irregular bleeding, along with some of these symptoms, might be due to another cause. See your doctor to rule out other possible conditions.

Menopause is a very personal life event. Knowing what to expect can go a long way to easing any concerns or anxieties you may have about going through “the change.” There’s an upside, too: many women after menopause say that they’ve never felt better!

The estrogen question

Is taking estrogen right for you? Is it safe? You’ve probably heard a lot about hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which may be used to treat the symptoms of menopause and, in some cases, to protect against osteoporosis and colorectal cancer. HRT is a controversial topic, especially now that the results of a major U.S. study (the Women’s Health Initiative [WHI] study) have become available. To help sort out the issues, here are some key points that can help you decide what’s right for you.

First, you need to speak with your doctor. You may be interested in taking hormone replacement but it’s not advised for women with certain health issues. This type of therapy isn’t recommended if you have a history of:

  • endometrial or breast cancer
  • blood clots
  • stroke
  • unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • active liver disease

Some women ask why they should take hormones for a perfectly natural stage of life. After all, it’s not a medical condition, is it? True, menopause is a normal state and doesn’t pose any serious health problems on its own. On the other hand, hormone replacement may help certain women in a few ways:

  • by helping to get through the worst of their symptoms, including irregular bleeding, hot flashes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, mood disturbances, and vaginal dryness
  • by protecting against osteoporosis: the WHI study found that taking a combination of estrogen plus progestin decreased overall fracture risk by 24% (the risk was reduced from 11.1% in women who did not take active medication to 8.6% in women taking estrogen plus progestin) and hip fracture risk by 33%. Estrogen and progestin also increased bone density in the hip by 3.7% (compared with 0.14% in women who did not take active medication). However, because of the risks of HRT, it is not recommended for preventing osteoporosis. It is not routinely recommended for treating osteoporosis except for cases where the benefits outweigh the risks.
  • by reducing the risk of colorectal cancer: the WHI study found that taking a combination of estrogen plus progestin decreased the risk of colorectal cancer by 44%. This translates to six fewer colorectal cancers for every 10,000 women over one year.
  • by reducing the risk of diabetes: in the WHI study, women taking a combination of estrogen plus progestin had a 21% lower risk of diabetes. This translates to 15 fewer cases of diabetes for every 10,000 women over one year. However, HRT is not recommended for the sole purpose of preventing diabetes because of its risks.

HRT also has some risks. Some of the side effects can include:

  • tender breasts
  • nausea
  • abdominal bloating
  • vaginal bleeding
  • uterine cramps
  • weight gain
  • headaches
  • mood swings
  • irritability

Estrogen replacement therapy can increase the risk of endometrial (uterine lining) cancer in women with an intact uterus. This is why women who have a uterus are also prescribed a progestin (such as medroxyprogesterone acetate) to protect them from endometrial cancer. Taking a progestin with estrogen replacement therapy reduces the risk of endometrial cancer to a similar (same or lower) level compared with women who are not taking estrogen replacement therapy.

The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study recently found that the use of a certain combination of estrogen and progestin taken in pill form (a combination of conjugated equine estrogen 0.625 mg plus medroxyprogesterone acetate 2.5 mg) significantly increases the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke. It is important to note that not all forms of HRT have been linked to an increased risk and that these risks occurred with long-term versus short-term usage. It is also important to note that the group of women studied in the trial had an average age of 63 years (with a range of 50 to 79 years), and none had severe menopause symptoms (many had no symptoms at all). Therefore, it is not known to what extent the results will apply to postmenopausal women who have different characteristics than the study group.

Specifically, initial study findings showed that the hormones increased a healthy woman’s risk of:

  • heart disease by 29%
  • stroke by 41%
  • breast cancer by 26%

Although these increases seem high, the actual number of cancers, heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots among the women in the study was small. The study authors say that given the increased risks they found, a group of 10,000 women who took the hormone combination for one year would experience:

  • seven additional heart attacks
  • eight more breast cancers
  • eight additional strokes
  • eight more blood clots in the lungs

The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) also studied women taking estrogen alone (women who had had a hysterectomy). For every 10,000 women taking estrogen alone, the risks and benefits for these women were (per year):

  • an increased risk of stroke: 12 more cases of stroke
  • possibly, an increased risk of blood clots: six more women with blood clots
  • a decreased risk of hip fractures: six fewer women with hip fractures
  • possibly, a decreased risk of breast cancer: seven fewer breast cancers

As a result of the WHI study, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) does not recommend that hormone replacement therapy be started or continued for the sole purpose of preventing heart disease, since estrogen plus progestin can actually increase the risk, and estrogen alone does not have any significant effect on the risk. Hormone replacement therapy may be used to treat menopausal symptoms (such as hot flashes), or to protect against osteoporosis and colorectal cancer. However, it is not recommended for women who do not have any menopausal symptoms. The current thought is that the risk of developing breast cancer increases after five years of taking HRT. Because some symptoms of menopause subside after two to three years, a woman should re-evaluate her need for HRT each year. The SOGC recommends that the lowest effective dose of HRT should be used for the shortest period of time needed.

Since each woman’s health history is different, it’s important that you openly discuss your concerns and needs with a doctor. Together, you can weigh the pros and cons of hormone replacement. If you decide not to take hormone replacement therapy, there are other treatment options for menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis. If you decide to go ahead with hormone replacement, you’ll be prescribed a treatment plan that’s tailored for you. Hormone replacements come in many forms and dosages, including pills, patches, gels, vaginal preparations, and injections.

The first time hormone therapy is suggested might be while you’re still in perimenopause. Some doctors recommend low-dose contraceptive pills to help regulate the menstrual cycle as it becomes more irregular. It’s convenient, but the drawback is that you can’t tell if your period has stopped completely or not.

It’s only natural

Whether or not you choose hormone replacement, other methods may help ease some of the discomforts of perimenopause and menopause. Because not all women are affected the same way, finding the right solution is sometimes a matter of trial and error.

For hot flashes:

  • stop smoking
  • avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • get regular exercise
  • decrease body mass index (BMI) if your doctor says it’s too high
  • reduce stress either by relaxation, biofeedback, meditation, or some other method you find soothing
  • lower your room temperature
  • dress in layers to reduce body temperature as needed

For insomnia:

  • don’t eat a heavy snack before bed
  • avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • make your bedroom as inviting and “sleepy” as possible; don’t use your bedroom for anything other than sleeping or sexual intimacy
  • develop a calming bedtime routine every night
  • avoid taking daytime naps

For problems with urinating too often or having episodes of urinary incontinence (leakage):

  • avoid hard alcohol or any liquid that triggers the need to urinate such as coffee, tea, or beer
  • practice Kegel (pelvic) exercises daily
  • wear a pad if you’re afraid of being caught in an embarrassing situation

Don’t limit your fluid intake to keep from urinating unless you’re advised to do so by your doctor. Dehydrating yourself will make menopausal symptoms worse.

For decreased sexual desire:

  • if you don’t have enough vaginal lubrication, try using a water-soluble gel
  • set a sexy mood by wearing that special gown, lighting candles, or playing romantic music

It also helps to let your partner know how you’re feeling, so that you can both take the time to get in the mood.

You can also speak to your doctor about highly effective non-hormonal medications to treat your menopausal symptoms. For example, venlafaxine or clonidine may reduce the frequency of your hot flashes, and medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may help control mood swings.

If you’d like to try herbal remedies for some of your symptoms, check with your doctor or pharmacist to be sure that these don’t interact with any medications you are taking and that you don’t have any medical conditions where these herbal remedies should be avoided.

Staying healthy after menopause

It used to be that the average lifespan of a woman in North America only extended into the early 60s. Now that women are living into their 70s, 80s and beyond, this brings a whole new dimension to women’s health.

The main health concerns after menopause are osteoporosis, heart disease and breast cancer. We’ve been told that hormone replacement can help lessen the risk of osteoporosis, but if you’re one of the women who can’t take the drugs or have decided not to, there are other ways to help protect yourself. These measures benefit all women – whether they’re on hormone replacement or not.

To protect against osteoporosis

  • Osteoporosis Canada recommends taking 1,200 mg of calcium per day, along with 800 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily if you are over 50 years old. Be sure to mention if you’re taking any kind of supplement to your doctor.
  • Stay active. If you haven’t already and can do so, begin a weight-bearing exercise program. Studies have shown that weight-bearing exercises encourage healthy bones and prevent bone mass loss. If you can’t participate in a regular program, simple walking routines or gardening also help. If you’re one of the many women with joint pain, perhaps swimming would be a good option for you.
  • Stop smoking, avoid caffeine and eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of calcium and vitamins.

There are also medications specifically designed to treat bone loss, so you may want to discuss this with your doctor if needed. As well, you may want to go for a bone-density measurement test to get a baseline measurement. This way, you and your doctor will know where you stand and if you’ll need regular monitoring.

In the past, hormone replacement therapy was also used to protect against heart disease. However, a major clinical study, the Women’s Health Institute (WHI) study, has found that instead of preventing heart disease, long-term use of hormone replacement therapy actually increases the risk. For this reason, it is no longer recommended that women take hormone replacement therapy for the sole purpose of preventing heart disease. Therefore, it’s more important than ever for women to find other ways to reduce their risk of heart disease.

To protect against heart disease

  • Stop smoking. Yes, you’ve heard it before, but here’s yet another good reason to quit. Cigarettes increase your risk of stroke and heart disease.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet that is low in saturated fats.
  • Watch your blood pressure. Have it checked regularly and follow your doctor’s recommendations for lowering it, including medication if needed.
  • Watch your weight. Obesity contributes to heart disease.
  • Get physical. Move around to keep your heart healthy.
  • Try to limit your stress levels.

If you’re in perimenopause, or have already entered menopause, it’s important to take stock of your health status, especially if you’re aware of conditions for which you may be at high risk. Talk to your doctor about the options available to keep you healthy. Information about taking preventive steps can help you fully enjoy the many years to come after menopause.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Menopause