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Menopause

Menopause is time in a woman's life when her periods (menstruation) eventually stop and the body goes through changes that no longer allow her to get pregnant. It is a natural event that normally occurs in women age 45 - 55.

Symptoms vary from woman to woman. They may last 5 or more years. Some women may have worse symptoms than others. Symptoms of surgical menopause can be more severe and start more suddenly.

Menopause is time in a woman's life when her periods (menstruation) eventually stop and the body goes through changes that no longer allow her to get pregnant. It is a natural event that normally occurs in women age 45 - 55.

Symptoms

Symptoms vary from woman to woman. They may last 5 or more years. Some women may have worse symptoms than others. Symptoms of surgical menopause can be more severe and start more suddenly.

The first thing you may notice is that your periods start to change. They might occur more often or less often. Some women might get their period every 3 weeks. This might last for 1 - 3 years before the periods completely stop.

Common symptoms of menopause include:

  • Menstrual periods that occur less often and eventually stop
  • Heart pounding or racing
  • Hot flashes, usually worst during the first 1 - 2 years
  • Night sweats
  • Skin flushing
  • Sleeping problems (insomnia)

Other symptoms of menopause may include:

  • Decreased interest in sex, possibly decreased response to sexual stimulation
  • Forgetfulness (in some women)
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings including irritability, depression, and anxiety
  • Urine leakage
  • Vaginal dryness and painful sexual intercourse
  • Vaginal infections
  • Joint aches and pains
  • Irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
Signs and tests

Blood and urine tests can be used to look for changes in hormone levels. Test results can help your doctor determine if you are close to menopause or if you have already gone through menopause.

Tests that may be done include:

  • Estradiol
  • FSH
  • LH

Your health care provider will perform a pelvic exam. Decreased estrogen can cause changes in the lining of the vagina.

Bone loss increases during the first few years after your last period. Your doctor may order a bone density test to look for bone loss related to osteoporosis.

Treatment

Treatment for menopause depends on many things, including how bad your symptoms are, your overall health, and your preference. It may include lifestyle changes or hormone therapy.

Bio- Identical Hormone Therapy

Phoenix Family Medical Clinic offers Bio Identical Hormone therapy that will help relieve the symptoms if you have severe hot flashes, night sweats, mood issues, or vaginal dryness. Hormone therapy is treatment with estrogen and, sometimes, progesterone.

Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of hormone therapy. Your doctor should be aware of your entire medical history before prescribing hormone therapy (HT). Learn about options that do not involve taking hormones.

Current guidelines support the use of HT for the treatment of hot flashes. Specific recommendations:

  • HT may be started in women who have recently entered menopause.
  • HT should not be used in women who started menopause many years ago, except for estrogen vaginal creams.
  • The medicine should not be used for longer than 5 years.
  • Women taking HT have a low risk for stroke, heart disease, blood clots, or breast cancer.

To reduce the risks of estrogen therapy, your doctor may recommend:

  • A lower dose of estrogen or a different estrogen preparation (for instance, a vaginal cream or skin patch rather than a pill)
  • Frequent and regular pelvic exams and Pap smears to detect problems as early as possible
  • Frequent and regular physical exams, including breast exams and mammograms

If you have a uterus and decide to take estrogen, you should also take progesterone to prevent cancer of the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer). If you do not have a uterus, you do not need progesterone.

Diet and Lifestyle Changes

Hormones are not always needed to reduce symptoms of menopause. There are many steps you can take to reduce symptoms.

Diet changes:

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods.
  • Eat soy foods. Soy contains estrogen.
  • Get plenty of calcium and vitamin D in food or supplements.

Exercise and relaxation techniques:

  • Get plenty of exercise.
  • Do Kegel exercises every day. They strengthen the muscles of your vagina and pelvis.
  • Practice slow, deep breathing whenever a hot flash starts to come on. Try taking six breaths a minute.
  • Try yoga, tai chi, or meditation.

Other tips:

  • Dress lightly and in layers.
  • Keep having sex.
  • Use water-based lubricants or a vaginal moisturizer during sex.
  • See an acupuncture specialist.

Content Source: nih.gov