Whether or not you had problems with your monthly menstrual periods, you may find it challenging to deal with the symptoms that accompany the gradual ending of your cycles. This phase of your life when your periods end is called perimenopause and menopause, and usually occurs between the ages of 45-55.
Menopause can bring some uncomfortable symptoms, but many women find ways to relieve these discomforts. Our OB/GYN, Alan Patterson, MD, explains more about what you may experience during menopause and how you can cope.
Menopause refers to the time when it has been 12 months since your last period. At this point in time, you no longer have to worry about pregnancy anymore, which is often a relief for many women.
Some women also experience uncomfortable symptoms during the period of time leading up to menopause, which is called perimenopause. Perimenopause can last for 4-10 years, during which you may experience a variety of symptoms.
These symptoms may include the following:
Not all women experience all of these symptoms. However, it’s estimated that about 75% of women do have the unpleasant experience of hot flashes.
The root cause of perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms is the same: declining levels of estrogen. Other hormones that decline include progesterone, testosterone, luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone. All of these hormones worked together to maintain your fertility in your younger years.
These hormone levels gradually taper off until the end of your periods but may fluctuate for several years beforehand. During these fluctuations, you may experience irregular periods, both in frequency and in the amount of flow. This is normal during the perimenopausal phase of your life.
There’s no question that many of the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause can be uncomfortable. In addition to dealing with hot flashes and sleep problems, you may also be fatigued, irritable, and less interested in sex.
Dr. Patterson can help you address these issues and make suggestions to help you feel more comfortable. If your mood swings are having a serious impact on your life, for example, he may prescribe medication. Herbal supplements, such as black cohosh and phytoestrogens, may also help relieve some of the side effects of menopause.
In addition to the above, you may also get some symptom relief by reducing or eliminating caffeine and making an effort to get regular exercise.
Often, the best way to deal with perimenopause and menopause is to replace the hormones that your body is losing. There are several options for hormone replacement therapy (HRT.)
If your primary symptom is vaginal dryness, and it’s affecting your sexual health, you may benefit from prescription vaginal estrogen. This delivers estrogen in the form of a ring, cream, or suppository to your vaginal tissues only. The Intrarosa® suppository delivers a human-made form of a hormone called DHEA, which your body converts into estrogen.
Unlike prescription vaginal estrogen and estrogen suppositories, which only provide local estrogen, BHRT delivers hormones similar to the ones naturally made by your body. You may feel more like yourself after taking bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.
Dr. Patterson does a health screening before prescribing hormone replacement therapy, as it’s not an appropriate option for some women, like those who are at greater risk of cancer or blood clots.
If you’re experiencing menopausal symptoms and are finding it difficult to cope with them, Dr. Patterson can help. Call our office in Coral Springs, Florida, or request an appointment online.
Patients may not be accompanied by other people at their appointments.