Women experience symptoms of menopause differently. Most report being bothered by hot flashes, but they occur in varying degrees of intensity and frequency for everyone. Mood swings, another common issue, might invade your days while your menopausal neighbor or sister has more difficulty with sleepless nights than moodiness. And some women experience a little, or a lot, of everything that menopause can unleash, from drenching night sweats to thinning hair.
Regardless of what your experience is like, if your menopause symptoms are interfering with your ability to function or experience life’s many enjoyments, there are effective treatments available to help you move through this phase of your life.
We can’t stop menopause from occurring. Rather, our goal at Boro Park OB/GYN is to provide supportive care and treatment strategies that alleviate your symptoms and help maintain your quality of life throughout menopause and the years ahead.
Understanding the stages of menopause
Unless you’re experiencing premature menopause due to a surgical procedure or other medical condition, menopause is a natural process that typically occurs in stages. First comes perimenopause, which eventually leads to menopause — the cessation of menstrual cycles.
Most women begin the transition into menopause (perimenopause) sometime in their mid to late 40s. As hormone production from your ovaries begins to decline during this phase, you may notice irregular periods and an occasional hot flash.
You can typically expect the symptoms of menopause to begin in earnest in your early 50s and continue until your body reaches the postmenopausal state, which occurs once you’ve gone a full 12 months without a period.
Menopause symptoms are due to declines in estrogen and progesterone normally produced by your ovaries and can include:
- Irregular periods
- Vaginal dryness, decreased interest in sex, and painful sexual intercourse
- Hot flashes, chills, and night sweats
- Difficulty sleeping accompanied by daytime drowsiness or irritability due to lack of sleep
- Mood swings
- Slowed metabolism and weight gain
- Thinning hair and dry skin
- Decrease in breast fullness
- Depression and anxiety
You may experience a few or all these symptoms, which can decrease in intensity or frequency or may resolve as your body adjusts to the changes in hormone levels related to your reproductive system. They are temporary but can last for years.
How your doctor can help
Your specialist at Boro Park is well acquainted with menopause, its symptoms, and the treatment strategies available to lessen your discomfort. We always take the time to design plans that are tailored to your needs rather than using a cookie-cutter approach to treat menopausal symptoms.
We may recommend changes in lifestyle; medication to help remedy your hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood swings; or a combination of treatment strategies based on your overall health and the symptoms you’re experiencing.
Medications that can help
Several medications are available for treating symptoms of menopause. Your best option depends on whether the benefits of the medicine outweigh its risks to your health. Hormone replacement therapy, for instance, may be the most obvious solution and is often very effective, but your personal and family history might eliminate that as a treatment.
Other medications we may consider include:
- Vaginal estrogen to relieve vaginal dryness, which is applied directly to the vagina in small doses via cream, tablet or ring
- Low-dose antidepressants to decrease hot flashes and improve mood
- Gabapentin, which is approved to treat seizures but can also reduce hot flashes, especially those occurring at night
- Clonidine, which is typically used to treat high blood pressure but is also effective for relief from hot flashes
Lifestyle changes and home remedies that work
There are many relatively simple measures you can take on your own to help relieve your symptoms, including:
- Healthy changes in your diet that focus on nutrition
- Increased exercise to help overcome weight gain associated with menopause and improve your mood
- Avoiding stress or warm environments, which can increase the intensity and frequency of hot flashes
- Practicing yoga or tai chi to alleviate tension and improve your balance, strength, and flexibility
For a comprehensive, patient-focused treatment strategy that can lessen your menopause symptoms, schedule your appointment at Boro Park OB/GYN today.