Archive for February, 2015

Hot off the presses: Menopause & Flashes

Sometimes I write original content for this blog.

Sometimes, I’m quoted in the NY Daily News.

Follow the link above to Erica Pearson‘s article about menopausal hot flashes or read the text of her excellent article copied below:

Exported.; nikhil;

Menopausal hot flashes can last for more than 7 years: study

Previously, women were thought to have symptoms for only a year or two. New study shows the sweats last longer — and are worse for blacks and Hispanics.

The hot flashes and night sweats that make menopause miserable for many women can last for more than seven years — much longer than previously believed, new research shows.

For the more than half of U.S. women who have frequent symptoms as the life change begins, the median length of time that menopause lasts is 7.4 years, according to a study by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.
That’s no surprise to Sandra Bouknight, 58, a retired maintenance worker from Brooklyn, who said she’s spent more than eight years dealing with menopause symptoms.

“It’s a crisis to go through. Hot flashes, mood swings. You start sweating like crazy, and then sometimes you get so moody you want to fight,” Bouknight said.
“For me it started when I was still in my 40s,” she said.

The study of nearly 1,500 women suffering frequent hot flashes found that symptoms are longer-lasting among blacks and Hispanics.

Some women were still waking up covered in sweat 14 years after the first symptoms began, the study found. The length varies depending on how early in a woman’s life the symptoms first begin, researchers found. On average, menopause begins at age 51.

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As many as 80% of U.S. women experience symptoms during menopause, the study’s authors said.

“Hot flashes are very, very common,” said Dr. Linda Nicoll, an obstetrician/gynecologist at NYU Langone Medical Center.

“People complain of a sensation of warmth travelling up the body,” she said.

Nicoll said she often recommends the lowest form of intervention first, such as dressing in layers and avoiding triggers like spicy foods or caffeine.

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However, some women find the symptoms interfere with their daily life.

Low-dose antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are one option to treat menopausal symptoms, Nicoll explained.

Other treatments include hormone replacement therapy — which, in some forms, is linked to increased breast cancer risk — or herbal supplements like soy or black cohosh.

– With News Wire Services

epearson@nydailynews.com

 

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February 20, 2015 at 6:28 pm 1 comment

The Hidden Costs of Egg Freezing

 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you’ve been hearing a lot about egg freezing (medical name: oocyte cryopreservation).  First of all, let me say it: I’m a BIG fan of egg freezing.   100% behind this.  Why?  Because it gives women options.

Egg freezing allows childbearing to be postponed in the interest of pursuing higher education, establishing a career, achieving financial stability, finding the right partner, and doing all of the things people do in their 20’s and 30’s.

But this blog post is dedicated to the hidden costs.  I’m talking finances, people.  This post isn’t about the pros and cons of ‘delayed childbearing’ (a phrase which sounds pretty judgmental already).  It’s about the logistics.  I already have a Jewish mother to tell me about the other stuff.  I’m sure you too have somebody doling out the same well-meaning advice (but maybe without the amazing brisket).

So, back to cold hard cash. If you read online about fertility preservation, you’ll see that the cost varies.  Estimates for the egg freezing hover around the $10,000 mark per cycle.  But, what does that mean?  Why would a woman undergo more than one egg freezing cycle?

When a woman goes through an egg freezing procedure, the number of eggs produced will vary.  It will vary depending on a number of factors including age.  Younger women tend to produce more eggs per cycle.  There are other factors too, but age is a biggie.

Some women, including women under 35, will not produce the desired number of eggs with one cycle alone.  I say ‘the desired number’ because that varies too. Some doctors recommend freezing approximately 10 eggs.  Some say 20.  There is no hard-and-fast rule.  A woman may then choose to undergo one or more additional cycles in order to achieve that desired number of eggs.

Also, some of those eggs will not be of sufficient quality to survive the freezing process.  Among those that survive, some will bear genetic material which is abnormal.  That’s also a concern that increases with age.  So older women may choose to freeze more eggs because they are concerned that a larger percentage of the frozen eggs will not produce a healthy baby.

So, the older a woman is, the more likely she may undergo more than one cycle.  This hidden cost can significantly increase the expense of egg freezing.

Another potential hidden cost is storage.  It costs an average of $500 per year to store frozen eggs.  That’s just an estimate– the actual number will vary by location, clinic, and other factors.

Bear in mind, the longer the eggs are stored, the more you’re paying.  So if you’re not using the eggs for 10 years, that could be another $5,000 you’re shelling out (pun intended).

So ok.  Now you’re ready to use your eggs.  Mazal tov (from my mother).

The eggs will neeed to be thawed and fertilized, and the resulting embryo(s) will be implanted in your womb or the womb of your surrogate.  This is IVF (in-vitro fertilization).  You’ve probably heard of IVF.  Usually, IVF involves embryos that are fresh or frozen.  The difference here is that the embryo is created fresh from your frozen egg.  You got that?

The thing to know is that IVF costs money.  The money pays for thawing and fertilizing the egg (to create the embryo), using medicines to prepare the uterus for pregnancy, and implanting the embryo.  This can cost several thousand dollars.  AGAIN.

So, now the embryo is implanted in the uterus and is growing nicely.  Eventually, it will become a fetus.  And then, with luck, a healthy baby.  And guess what babies cost– MORE MONEY.  You thought egg freezing and IVF was expensive?  Ha!  Try clothing, feeding and educating a kid.

But the good news is that my mother tells me it’s totally worth it.  Grandchildren, after all, are priceless.

 

 

 

 

February 20, 2015 at 5:39 pm 2 comments


Linda M. Nicoll, MD

Welcome to my blog! Here you will find information about minimally invasive gynecologic surgery as well as some more general information about common gynecologic disorders such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, fibroids, infertility, and pelvic pain.

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