Did you know that women may spend more years in menopause than in their reproductive years? Thankfully, there’s a lot you and your doctor can do to sustain a long, healthy, and happy life. Uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats can be improved in a variety of ways. Heart disease and osteoporosis risks can be assessed and addressed. Preventive nutrition is actively promoted. And a personalized evaluation of the benefits and risks of hormone replacement therapy or other non-hormonal treatments will help you and your physician make well-informed decisions about what’s best for you.
When Do Women Experience Menopause?
Perimenopause begins several years before menopause as the rate of decrease in estrogen becomes more rapid. This is the stage when most women begin to experience symptoms and seek treatment. It’s important to stay up-to-date with your routine health care and talk to your physician about any concerns you may have. The average age for menopause, which is marked by 12 months without a period, is 51.
The types and severity of symptoms can vary widely among women.
- Irregular periods
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood swings
- Hot flashes and chills
- Night sweats
- Weight gain
- Bladder control problems
- Changes in sex drive
- Bone loss
Menopause Treatment & Testing
- Hormone therapy – Hormone therapy refers to adding estrogen and/or progestin to a patient’s bloodstream via pills, patches, or topical gels and sprays so that it can get to the tissues and organs that need it the most. Hormone therapy may help relieve many symptoms of menopause.
- Vaginal Lubricants – Non-hormonal vaginal lubricants may be used to relieve vaginal dryness and painful intercourse. Moisturizers may be used every 2-3 days, and lubricants may be used for intercourse.
- Supplements – There are many over the counter supplements available, including soy, black cohosh, and other herbal remedies that have been used to treat menopause. Only a few of these have been studied, and supplements are not regulated. Discuss supplement options with your physician.
- Urodynamic Testing – Urodynamic testing takes about 15-30 minutes and will help your physician evaluate any problems with your bladder. During the appointment, a small tube is placed in the bladder while another is placed in the vagina or rectum. The tubes fill the bladder and measures pressure. Results of the test allow your physician to decide on a treatment the fits the patient’s specific problem, increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome.
- Bone Density Screening – This is a safe and accurate way to measure bone mineral density. It is often recommended for women over age 50 who are past menopause and have other risks for osteoporosis. The results of the test will show bone strength and if any treatments are needed.
- Healthy Lifestyle – Eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise can help perimenopausal and menopausal women maintain strong bones and a healthy weight.