Menopause is the end of a woman's menstrual cycle and fertility. It happens when your ovaries no longer make estrogen and progesterone, two hormones needed for fertility. You are considered menopausal when your periods have stopped for one year. Menopause happens naturally with age but it can also stem from surgery, treatment of a disease, or an illness. In these cases, it’s called induced or surgical menopause, or premature ovarian failure.
When it starts naturally, the first sign may be an irregular menstrual cycle. Other symptoms include:
- Mood swings
- Lower sex drive
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Racing heart
- Vaginal dryness and soreness
- Painful sex
- Trouble sleeping
How Can I Treat the Symptoms?
There are a variety of ways to treat the symptoms associated with menopause. Together we will create a plan to address your unique situation to help you manage your symptoms. This plan may include:
Lifestyle changes A healthy diet and regular exercise program will help manage your symptoms and boost your health. Kick unhealthy habits like smoking or drinking too much alcohol. Avoid triggers like caffeine and spicy foods and staying sexually active may help preserve your vaginal lining.
Prescription medication If your menopause was not surgically induced your doctor may prescribe treatment with estrogen and progesterone. This is called combination hormone therapy (HT) or hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It helps with hot flashes and night sweats, and it may help prevent osteoporosis. If you’ve had a hysterectomy, you may be treated with estrogen alone however there are some restrictions and cautions regarding HRT. If you can't or don't want to take hormones, other medications can ease symptoms. We will discuss your symptoms and your unique situation and create a plan to help you manage your symptoms.
Prescription and OTC medications can treat vaginal dryness and sleep problems. Discuss these with your doctor.
Nontraditional options There are many unproven methods for treating menopause symptoms. Some work better than others. Talk to a doctor before trying as they may interact with prescribed medications.