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'Menopause Makeover': New strategy helps women get through menopause

February 2, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Menopause, one of the most Googled words on the Internet, is a condition that every woman will experience. Some women have developed a new strategy to get through it called "Menopause Makeover."

Two months after being engaged to a younger man, Staness Jonekos said she started seeing the symptoms of menopause.

"Six months before my wedding, I gained 30 pounds, hot flashes, I was in no mood for a honeymoon," Jonekos said.

But planning her wedding got her thinking about planning a menopause makeover. The 46-year-old created a guide that gives the pros and cons of treatment options, tracks eating habits, weight loss and exercise plans.

"There's a lot of myths that come with it, and there's a lot of mistakes that women make as they go through menopause," said Dr. Chrisandra Shufelt, a certified menopause practitioner at Cedars-Sinai

Shufelt says don't believe everything you read on the Internet. Studies show interventions like human growth hormone are hit-and-miss, and can make heart disease and diabetes worse.

And paying $120 for a salivary hormone test to find out if you're in menopause is a waste of money.

The only blood test that's proven is the FSH or follicle-stimulating hormone test. Once diagnosed, Jonekos says changing what you eat can help control the severity of hot flashes.

Caffeine, sugar, spicy foods and cinnamon are triggers. Jonekos worked with doctors to create a menopause food pyramid. She eats 25 percent of calories from healthy fats like avocados and tuna, 35 percent of calories from lean protein like salmon and chicken and 40 percent of calories from low glycemic carbs, such as brown rice and oatmeal.

"Just simply switching from white bread to brown bread, white pasta to whole grain pasta, from potatoes to yams, that was huge," Jonekos said.

Another change was exercising 30 to 60 minutes five days a week. Jonekos swims, spins, weight lifts and loves her crunches.

"I've witnessed women who've wiped out their symptoms by exercising. I've witnessed women who've wiped out their symptoms by cutting back on sugar," Shufelt said.

"I'm way healthier today than when I was in my 20s, and I look better in a swimsuit," Jonekos said.

Another mistake women make is the only hormone they get checked is their estrogen, but many women going through menopause also have trouble with their thyroid. Low thyroid is also associated with low energy and weight gain.