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.
When menopause happens
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:
- Hot flashes
- Sleeping difficulties
- Weight gain
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood changes or irritability
- Night sweats
- Loss of breast volume
- Memory loss or “brain fog”
- Reduced sex drive
- Increased urination
- Hair thinning or loss
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 cause of menopausal symptoms
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.
How to be more comfortable during menopause
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.
Hormone replacement therapy
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.)
Prescription vaginal estrogen
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.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT)
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.
- We are still seeing obstetrics patients in our office to ensure that our pregnant patients are getting the prenatal care they need. If you are pregnant, please call us to book your appointment today. We are also seeing patients in our office for annual well-woman exams, as well as those who are having gynecological problems or emergencies.
- Here's what we're doing to ensure the safety of our patients who come into the office for their appointments. We are:
- Ensuring that patients are not experiencing respiratory issues when they visit our office.
- Sanitizing all services on a regular basis.
- Wearing masks and gloves to reduce the probability of virus transmission.
- Washing our hands for 20 seconds after every interaction we have, inside and outside of the office.
Patients may not be accompanied by other people at their appointments.
- We’re offering telemedicine appointments for the following conditions: yeast infections, UTIs, birth control consults, vaginitis (vaginal infections), hormone replacement therapy consults, premenopause, menopause, amenorrhea, and abnormal periods. Please call us to determine if your need for services qualifies for a telemedicine appointment.