Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s life – all women will go through it. And while menopause is an end to your reproductive years, it doesn’t mean an end to your life and the things you enjoy. In fact, for many women, it means children are older or fully grown, leaving you with more time to focus on you!
Whether you are starting to experience the transition period leading up to menopause or are in menopause or post-menopause, Women’s Health Specialists of CentraState, care for you through the entire journey by caring for you as a whole person. You are not alone in this often uncomfortable and stressful time. Women have many options, and we’re here to help you understand all of them.
Stages Of Menopause
The three stages of menopause—peri-menopause, menopause, and post-menopause—form the longest life stage for most women.
The menopausal transition is a time when your body’s production of estrogen and progesterone, two hormones made by the ovaries, varies greatly. Periods become irregular. You may have missed periods or periods that come very close together. You may have heavy bleeding or spotting between periods. Women often start to see the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid- to late 40s but they can begin as early as her 30s. The uncomfortable symptoms commonly associated with menopause develop during this time period, including hot flashes, headaches, mood changes, vaginal dryness, loss of interest in sex and night sweats. Some women experience only minimal discomfort with these symptoms and need no intervention, but for those who find symptoms get in the way of their daily life, treatments are available.
Menopause is more of a diagnosis than a stage. While the perimenopause stage is commonly called menopause, you are not “officially” in menopause until you have not had a period for 12 consecutive months.
Menopause may also be caused by surgical removal of the ovaries, which produces hormones. If you have surgery to remove your ovaries and are not taking hormones, you will experience the symptoms of menopause immediately.
Once menopause has been diagnosed, you are officially in the post-menopausal stage.
Congratulations! As a post-menopausal woman, you don’t have to worry about getting your period, cramping and PMS or getting pregnant but you are at a higher risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. Women’s Health Specialists of CentraState can help you manage that risk with the appropriate testing, treatments, and referrals to help keep you healthy in the years to come.
Transition to menopause is a normal part of a woman’s life, not a disease or disorder. Many women find some simple changes, such as sleeping in a colder room to combat night sweats, are enough to go through the change naturally. But if you find the symptoms are getting in the way of you enjoying your normal lifestyle and are causing you undue stress and anxiety, there are options. The physicians at Women’s Health Specialists of CentraState listen to each patient to provide personal, individualized care, education, and advice. We focus heavily on patient education and empowerment during this process, and patients are active participants in their care. Every patient is different but physicians may recommend:
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy or HRT is still considered an effective treatment for the symptoms of menopause. Hormone therapy—using medications containing female hormones to replace or increase levels of hormones —has been used to treat common peri-menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and vaginal discomfort. It’s also been proven to prevent bone loss and reduce fractures in post-menopausal women. However, there are risks associated with using hormone therapy. These risks depend on the type of hormone therapy, the dose, and how long the medication is taken.
Short-term hormone replacement therapy is safe for most women. If your hot flashes have subsided but you’re still experiencing vaginal dryness, vaginal estrogen may be an option. There are very few health risks for using estrogen-containing vaginal creams, inserts, or rings, and they have been shown to improve quality of life. Your physician will review the risks and benefits of HRT with you and re-evaluate your case regularly.
Other non-traditional ways to treat the symptoms of menopause include herbal and botanical supplements, melatonin, acupuncture, paced breathing, massage, meditation, yoga, and reflexology (pressure or massage applied to the feet). Consult with your physician to see if these are safe options for you.
Women’s Health Specialists of CentraState are the best gynecologists for menopause related conditions. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.