Things You Should Know
Menopause occurs when a woman’s body no longer produces estrogen and menstrual periods stop. Natural menopause occurs gradually, usually between the ages of 40 and 55. The average age of menopause is 51. Menopause can also occur due to the removal of both ovaries.
The doctors at Fair Ridge Ob/Gyn specialize in designing an individualized treatment plan to help you manage this natural part of aging.
Menopause gradually causes changes in your body as the amount of estrogen you produce diminishes over time. Menopause is different for everyone. Some women notice little difference in their bodies or their emotions, while other women have difficulty coping with the symptoms of menopause. The good news is that many of the symptoms of menopause can be controlled with a healthy lifestyle and medication.
|changes in your period
||one of the earliest symptoms
||most common symptom; can occur day and night
||often caused by hot flashes; medication is available
||vagina may become thin and dry; lubricants help
|urinary tract changes
||may need to urinate more frequently
||osteoporosis can be managed with medication
||often due to lack of sleep and decreasing estrogen
||menopause doesn't have to affect enjoyment of sex
Many women choose non-medical treatments to ease their menopause symptoms. These treatments are often used in conjunction with traditional hormone therapy.
Perhaps one of the best ways to help your body cope with the changes caused by menopause is to eat a healthy and well balanced diet. You should follow a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet that includes a variety of foods. Also be sure to include enough calcium in your diet to help maintain strong bones.
Exercise is especially important as you approach menopause. Regular weight-bearing exercise such as walking slows down the bone loss that can result from lower estrogen levels and improves your overall health.
For some women, herbal products can help relieve the symptoms of menopause. Herbal treatments come from plants and come in many forms with many different uses. Because of the wide variety of herbs available and their varying effects, it is best to work with your doctor to determine if herbs are safe and effective for you. Also remember that herbs can interact with medications so it is important to always let your doctor know about any herbs you are taking.
Working with your doctor at Fair Ridge Ob/Gyn, you can come up with an individualized menopause treatment plan that takes into account your personal health history, risk factors, and preference.
Herbs That Have Been Used to Treat Menopause
• Soy Products
• Black Cohosh
• St. John’s Wort
• Wild Yam
• Dong Quai
• Evening Primrose
• Valerian Root
Hormone therapy (HT) replaces the hormones that your ovaries no longer produce. It can help relieve the (symptoms of menopause). Depending on your situation, you may be given estrogen alone or a combination of estrogen with progestin – a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone. Hormone therapy is most often prescribed in the form of pills, injections, vaginal rings, or patches placed on the skin.
In addition to easing the symptoms of menopause, hormone therapy has additional benefits as well as risks associated with it. The estrogen that is prescribed as part of hormone therapy has been shown to protect against bone loss and help prevent osteoporosis. It can also help reduce the risk of colon and rectal cancers.
Among the risks that have been linked to hormone therapy are a slight increase in the risk of breast cancer in women who use a combination of estrogen and progestin. The increased risk appears to be small, but increases the longer you are on hormone therapy. Hormone therapy also slightly increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and blood clots and of endometrial cancer in women who use estrogen alone.
Your choice of whether or not to use hormone therapy depends on your individual health history and risk factors. Since the results of research studies are not always in agreement, it can be hard to weigh the benefits against the risks and decide what is best for you. The doctors at Fair Ridge Ob/Gyn will work with you to determine if hormone therapy is right for you.
The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI)is the largest scale study to date looking at the risk and benefits of various hormone replacement therapy regimens. Information from the WHI is available at: www.nhlbi.nih.gov. Or alternatively you can look at our full list of Online Resources here.