Dealing with Night Sweats: “As more baby-boomer women near menopause, companies are marketing an array of cooling and moisture-wicking products to reduce the misery of hot flashes and night sweats. The items include special nightclothes, pillows and sheets, special bed fans and even cooling gel strips for the back of your neck,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

Reviews are mixed. “There are so many products out there, and many of them sound logical, but there is no evidence they work,” said Wulf H. Utian, founder and executive director of the North American Menopause Society. “Buyer, beware.”

Mary Jane Minkin, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Yale University School of Medicine, sees some benefit to products such as moisture-wicking sheets and pajamas, which may at least eliminate the need to change clothes after night sweats. “If they don’t have to change all their clothes, it’s less of a big deal. They can go right back to sleep,” said Minkin.

Plus: Cynthia McMullen of the Richmond Times Dispatch reports on the popularity of menopause, as evidenced by an abundance of books, a hit musical and a board game.

The Pill’s Long-Running Health Saga: Slate breaks down dueling studies about the birth control pill and women’s health, in the wake of last week’s news that the pill decreases the risk of ovarian cancer.

Hormone Levels and Chronic Fatigue: “Women who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome may be starting the day at a disadvantage. A new study finds that they wake up with lower levels of a hormone that helps people deal with stress,” reports The New York Times. “The researchers, writing online in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, said the low levels of the hormone, cortisol, might play a role in the severe fatigue found in many patients with the syndrome.”

New Insights into Genital Pain: The Times also looks at some of the potential causes of vulvodynia, a chronic discomfort of the vulva that can result in searing or shooting pain. “For decades, women suffering from vulvodynia have been told that nothing seems to be wrong with them — nothing, that is, that the examining physician can discern — or that the condition may be real but that nothing can be done,” writes Jane Brody.

Now doctors are noting that some women produce inadequate amounts of a substance that blocks an inflammatory response, and that women with vulvodynia may have more nerve fibers in the vulva. As one doctor put it, “It’s a kind of vulvar fibromyalgia. Most patients with vulvodynia have very tender glands at the entrance to the vagina.”

Prozac Backlash: Jerome Weeks, writing at Salon, reviews the current crop of books by critics of America’s high usage of antidepressant medication (and discusses reaction to the piece here).

February = American Heart Month: As always, American Heart Month provides a well-publicized opportunity to share resources and education about heart disease. But it’s always good to consider the motivation of sponsors. This year, Diet Coke has teamed up with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to promote “The Heart Truth” campaign, marked by the red dress. Here’s why you may want to think before you drink. And here’s some cautious information about women and statins and coverage of racial bias in heart disease treatment.

Christine

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