Studies Gauge Effects of Menopause

By Dr. Ben Ramaley

With symptoms ranging from annoying to debilitating, menopause can affect every aspect of a woman’s life. Fortunately, as researchers study menopause, they are discovering new treatment regimens that could help many women age with more ease.

Women often complain that menopause has reduced their ability to function normally. Recent studies have found that, for example, between one-third and two-thirds of women do experience mental fuzziness associated with menopause, mostly in the areas of short-term memory and concentration. They did not find a correlation with hot flashes or hormone levels, but the women who also had trouble sleeping, were depressed, or who suffered panic attacks were most likely to show decreased mental function. If you are having problems focusing and remembering things after menopause, consider seeking treatment for underlying issues.

Menopause can also affect a woman’s ability to lead a normal life. A study out of Denmark found that women going through menopause were more likely to call in sick to work. In addition, such women tended to rate their job performance as worse than that of non-menopausal women. It seems, then, that many women find that menopause negatively affects their work-life balance. The study was done on nurses and home health professionals, however, so it is possible that women in jobs with lower stress levels might not experience the same effects.

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Dr. Ben Ramaley Discusses Menopause and Sexuality

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Not all women going through menopause find that it decreases their sex drive. In fact, some women become more sexually active since they no longer have the concern that they will become pregnant. Often, however, the physical side effects of menopause can inhibit sexual enjoyment, but women can usually counter these effects with a little planning. The primary physical complaint of menopausal women remains vaginal dryness. Hot flashes and night sweats may also inhibit sex drive by causing irritability and discomfort. Notably, a number of physical changes related to aging may also have an impact, including decreased blood flow to the pelvis, which causes the vagina to become less elastic. The vaginal walls may also become thinner, resulting in pain during intercourse. Additionally, hormonal changes affect sexuality since the loss of androgens, such as testosterone, decreases a woman’s libido.

Women often consider their decreased enjoyment of sex a natural part of aging, but can easily seek gynecological treatment if they wish to maintain their sex lives. Symptom-dependent treatment options include hormone replacement therapy, which assuages hot flashes and night sweats and could possibly address vaginal dryness. A woman can also reclaim her sex life via some over-the-counter and prescription medications. If vaginal dryness proves the most pressing issue, women can use water-based gel lubricants available at a variety of stores. Additionally, exercise and diet can have a great impact on overall health, wellbeing, and certain symptoms of menopause like hot flashes. Also, regular sexual activity actually promotes and prolongs vaginal health.

Women should consult a doctor as soon as they notice a problem. Failure to address these issues may increase stress levels and affect physical, mental, and emotional health. Similarly, before taking any over-the-counter medications, women should discuss their possible side effects and other available options with a qualified physician.

About the Author

Dr. Ben Ramaley offers comprehensive gynecological care through Southport Women’s Group in Connecticut, specializing in menopausal and adolescent gynecology, aiding women through the beginning and end of their menstrual cycles. To provide the highest level of care, Dr. Ben Ramaley remains involved with several professional organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and Connecticut State Medical Society.

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Dr. Ben Ramaley on an Adolescent’s First Visit to a Gynecologist

Dr. Ben Ramaley has practiced obstetrics and gynecology for nearly 40 years. Currently a physician at Southport Women’s Healthcare in Connecticut, Dr. Ramaley focuses his care on women undergoing life changes, such as adolescence and menopause.

Parents and female teenagers may not know exactly when the teen should start visiting a gynecologist. Six years ago, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended that young women first visit such physicians when they reach ages 13 to 15.

While teenagers may not require as extensive an exam as a full-grown woman, such a visit may prove beneficial. A gynecologist can serve as an impartial health care authority and give the patient advice regarding sexual activity, pregnancy prevention, and sexually transmitted diseases. The physician can correct misinformation that fellow students may have shared. Furthermore, young women may feel more comfortable discussing their health concerns with doctors as opposed to family members.

The initial visit does not have to include a pap test, a pelvic exam, or a physical exam. The appointment can facilitate communication between the patient and the doctor and expose the patient to issues that may affect her throughout her life.

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Applying to the University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Medicine By Dr. Ben Ramaley

The University of Illinois features four campuses for students studying medicine: Peoria, Rockford, Chicago, and Urbana. Students who enroll in the Chicago program remain there for the duration of their training. To apply, individuals should fill out a common application through the American Medical College Application Service. Applicants have from April 15 until November 15 to submit the form in order to join the class entering the following year.

While the university accepts students with any major, they must have completed a significant amount of courses and lab sections in the behavioral, biological, and physical sciences. These include two courses each of general inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, biological sciences, and general physics, as well as three social sciences. Students can fulfill the latter requirement by taking anthropology, sociology, or psychology courses.

About Dr. Ben Ramaley

An experienced gynecologist, Dr. Ben Ramaley currently treats patients at Southport Women’s Healthcare, his practice in Connecticut. He focuses his care on women experiencing adolescence and menopause. Dr. Ramaley earned his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Candidates for a Well Woman Exam, by Dr. Ben Ramaley

Dr. Ben Ramaley serves as a gynecologist at Southport Women’s Healthcare in Connecticut. In addition, Dr. Ramaley holds memberships in several professional organizations, including the Connecticut State Medical Society and the Fairfield County Medical Association.

The well woman exam is an annual evaluation of a female’s health, often performed by a gynecologist or nurse practitioner. Women of all ages can benefit from such exams. The following gives a brief introduction to the best candidates for this type of routine visit.

1. Women with questionable bleeding. During a period, we consider bleeding normal. Outside of a menstrual cycle, bleeding can indicate a health concern.
2. Those with breast changes or STD symptoms. Women who conduct monthly self-exams may discover lumps or other differences in their breasts, which should serve as triggers to visit a physician. Females who suspect they have contracted a sexually transmitted disease should also see a doctor.
3. Sexually active individuals. Women who have one or more intimate partners benefit from an annual exam.
4. Women whose female relatives experienced disease. Those with mothers, sisters, aunts, and other family members who faced breast cancer or cancer of the reproductive organs will want to visit a physician at least annually.
5. Those seeking hormone replacement therapy. As women near menopause, some may wish to begin hormone treatments. A physician can guide patients to making appropriate choices.

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“The Incarnate Word Academy Learning Garden,” by Dr. Ben Ramaley

Catholic organization Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament operates a school in Parma Heights, Ohio, at which its hundreds of students are inspired to learn, to love, and to serve. The Learning Garden is one of the most heart-warming aspects of the Academy. The garden provides a serene setting for personal reflection as well as group education. Years before its creation, the kindergarten teachers dreamed of a garden where they could teach children about the cycles of life by watching caterpillars build cocoons and transform into butterflies. The concept evolved into a multi-grade Learning Garden by its completion in 2006.

Organized around “learning beds,” each grade is assigned a subject and garden area. The kindergarteners observe the butterfly garden. First-graders and fifth-graders learn about the bird habitat and undertake plant journaling. Grades two and six are assigned the flower garden, while grades three and seven focus their learning around the pumpkin patch. Finally, grades four and eight spend their year acquiring knowledge about the rock garden.

About the author: Dr. Ben Ramaley donates to the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament. A practicing Catholic, Dr. Ramaley is a member of the St. Clement of Rome Parish in Connecticut.

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Can Doctors Treat HPV? By Dr. Ben Ramaley

HPV stands for human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted virus in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that at least half of sexually active Americans have genital HPV. The rates for adolescents are higher, with 50 percent to 80 percent having the infection within three years of becoming sexually active.

Some HPV viruses, of which there are more than 40 types, often exhibit no symptoms and go away without treatment, while others cause minor and major health problems. Some HPVs cause genital warts. Other HPVs are oncogenic, i.e. viruses which cause cancer. HPVs are linked to cervical and anal cancers. Some of these viruses also are associated with cancers of the penis, vulva, and vagina.

There are presently no medical treatments for HPV itself. The symptoms may be treated; physicians can surgically remove warts and lesions associated with HPV and treat HPV-related cancer. Couples can reduce the risk of transmitting HPV with correct and consistent use of condoms. A more promising area is in prevention. The Food and Drug Administration has approved two vaccines, Gardasil® and Cervarix®, which have been shown to prevent persistent infections.

About the author:

With more than three decades of experience in women’s health, Dr. Ben Ramaley specializes in obstetrics and gynecology at Southport Women’s Healthcare in Connecticut. Dr. Ramaley completed his OB/GYN residency at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

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