What Kind of Menopause Treatment Is Available and What Does It Relieve?
The average woman will go into menopause at age 51. However, this can happen anywhere between the ages of 40 and 55.
The age you go into menopause is thought to be determined genetically. So if you talk to your mother and grandmother, you can usually get a good idea of what to expect. However, there are a number of things that can cause you to go into menopause early, including chemotherapy and smoking.
No matter what age you go into menopause, you don’t need to suffer through it. In this article, you’ll learn all about what happens to your body during menopause, and the menopause treatment options available.
Ready? Let’s get started.
What is Menopause?
Menopause is when a woman no longer has menstrual periods. Typically, this means you’ve gone for twelve months or longer without a period. This means that you can no longer have children, and your hormone levels have changed.
Before you go through menopause, you’ll have a transition phase known as perimenopause. This means that the supply of eggs in your ovaries will diminish, and you won’t ovulate as frequently. You’ll also have a decreased production of both progesterone and estrogen. This drop in estrogen causes many of the most common menopause symptoms.
The Signs and Symptoms of Menopause
While there are some common symptoms of menopause, it’s important to recognize that every woman’s experience is different. Some women have very severe symptoms, while others may not really notice that they’re going through menopause at all.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of menopause:
Most people associate hot flashes with menopause, and this is the most common symptom. Up to 80% of women can expect to have these brief, sudden increases in body temperature.
Usually, these will begin before you get your last period (while you’re still in perimenopause). For most women, these hot flashes will last for two years or less.
This symptom is thought to be directly related to the decreased levels of estrogen in the body. While some women may have frequent, intense hot flashes, others may not have any at all.
With hot flashes, your heart rate may increase as well. This can cause sweating, and you may feel dizzy. These often occur at night, and you may wake up completely drenched in sweat.
This is when the tissues of the urethra and vagina begin to get dryer and thinner. This can make sex painful, and lead to urinary tract infections, cystitis, and vaginitis.
Pelvic Muscle Relaxation
This increases the risk of the urethra, bladder, rectum, or uterus protruding into the vagina and can lead to urinary incontinence.
As your hormones change, you may notice that you have more facial hair, and/or your hair is thinning on your scalp.
You may also notice cardiac effects like numbness, tingling, prickling, dizziness, a faster heart rhythm, or cardiac palpitations.
While the physical symptoms of menopause are often talked about, the mental symptoms are sometimes brushed under the rug. But many women feel emotionally and psychologically fatigued, irritable, and nervous.
They may also suffer from insomnia and moodiness, and some of these symptoms can be attributed to the stress of aging and decreased estrogen.
Which Menopause Treatment is Right for You?
Menopause treatment focuses on relieving the signs and symptoms of menopause and preventing chronic conditions that may occur while you age.
Here are some of the menopause treatments available:
Hormone therapy aims to replace some of the hormones your body is no longer producing. Generally, your doctor will prescribe the lowest dose necessary to relieve your symptoms.
This treatment will usually replace estrogen and progestin, helping to prevent bone loss, and reducing the symptoms of low estrogen such as hot flashes. This is also known as HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy), and your treatment will be tailored directly to your symptoms.
This can also help prevent bone loss, and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
If you’re not getting any relief from your hot flashes, your doctor may suggest a low-dose antidepressant. These are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and are also useful for women who have mood disorders or are unable to take estrogen.
A tablet, cream, or ring containing estrogen can be administered to help relieve dryness. This will release a small amount of estrogen, reducing discomfort, dryness, and urinary symptoms.
This (and similar drugs) are used to reduce hot flashes, particularly for those who suffer from night sweats. This is another good option for women who can’t use estrogen.
This is a patch or pill that’s often used for people with high blood pressure. Some women find that it also helps with hot flashes.
Estrogen Antagonists/Agonists and Bisphosphonates
Women who are going through menopause often need to watch that they don’t develop osteoporosis. These medications can help you reduce your risk of osteoporosis.
Bisphosphonates help increase bone mineral density, which also combats the risk of osteoporosis.
Many women combine one or more of the treatments above with natural therapies as well. Some of these include herbal supplements such as Ginseng and Black cohosh, evening primrose oil, and St John’s wort.
Many of these herbal supplements can interact with other medications, so be sure to discuss these with your doctor first.
Dietary supplements can also help, including phytoestrogens and isoflavones. While more research is needed, many believe that these supplements can help with hot flushes, vaginal atrophy, and loss of bone density.
While menopause may seem scary, there are plenty of options for menopause treatment available. That’s why you need to consult with an experienced doctor who can talk about your symptoms, health risks, and treatment options.
There’s no need to suffer through this stage of life, particularly when there are a number of treatments that can help you feel better. If you’d like to learn more about your options, we can help. Get in touch today to make an appointment with highly trained Dr. Bornt, a gynecologist in York PA.