MENOPAUSE OVERVIEW AND SYMPTOMS
Menopause is defined as beginning one year after a woman’s last menstrual period, and is a natural biological process signifying the end of fertility and menstruation. Although the exact age menopause begins varies significantly, it typically occurs between the ages of 40-61, with 51 marking the average age for the onset of menopause for American women.
While some menopausal women take comfort in not having to worry about getting pregnant, the emotional and physical symptoms that accompany perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause) and menopause can be unpleasant. Each woman’s menopausal experience is unique; however, common symptoms often include:
- Missed or irregular periods
- Changes in mood/mood swings
- Hot flashes
- Weight gain and slowing metabolism
- Sleep disturbances
- Thinning hair and dry skin
- Lowered libido, vaginal dryness
- Reduction in breast fullness
Menopause also puts women at a higher risk of developing the following medical conditions:
- Osteoporosis: women suffering from osteoporosis present with weak, brittle bones that are highly susceptible to fracture. Within the first few years of the onset of menopause, women begin to rapidly lose bone density, and become increasingly vulnerable to the development of osteoporosis. Perimenopausal and menopausal women are advised to be vigilant about proper calcium supplementation and to have regular bone density scans to screen for this disease.
- Urinary Incontinence: the elasticity of the urethra and vaginal tissues decreases during menopause, which may lead to urinary incontinence (the involuntary loss or leakage of urine) and a higher propensity for developing urinary tract infections (UTIs). Kegel exercises can be performed to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, which can help to stave off or improve the symptoms of incontinence.
- Cardiovascular Disease: a woman’s estrogen levels naturally decline with age, which heightens the likelihood that she will develop heart and blood vessel disease. Your treatment provider can recommend effective techniques and lifestyle changes to decrease your cholesterol and blood pressure levels in order to reduce your risk of heart disease.
At the Women’s Medical Center, P.C., located in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, our team of board certified Obstetricians/Gynecologists understand the unique health concerns that accompany perimenopause and menopause, and will work closely with you to manage your symptoms and facilitate a seamless transition into the next phase of your life.
MENOPAUSE TREATMENT OPTIONS
Optimal management of perimenopause and menopause symptoms can best be achieved with regular preventive appointments with your OBGYN healthcare professional, and by making a conscious effort to stay up-to-date with recommended health screenings, such as: thyroid testing, colonoscopy, mammography, lipid screening, and pelvic exams. The respected team of OBGYN specialists at Women’s Medical Center, PC have helped countless patients gracefully navigate the transition through menopause, and will take the time to clearly and comprehensively explain all of your menopause management treatment options.
There are a variety of treatment protocols that may help to ease the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause:
- Hormone replacement therapy to boost depleted levels of estrogen and progestin, thereby increasing bone density and providing relief from hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and other unwelcome menopause symptoms
- Low-doses of antidepressants from the category of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or Gabapentin (Neurontin) to elevate or stabilize your mood and reduce the severity of hot flashes
- Medications to minimize bone loss, which serve to prevent or manage the symptoms of osteoporosis
- Alternative therapeutic treatments (i.e. yoga, acupuncture, plant estrogens, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy)
- Lifestyle changes (i.e. adopting a healthy diet and exercise regimen; practicing relaxation techniques; quitting smoking; performing Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic wall; dressing in layers to prepare for sudden hot flashes)
If you would like additional information about perimenopause, menopause, osteoporosis, or hormone replacement therapy, please contact Women’s Medical Center, PC today. We look forward to speaking with you, and to scheduling your initial appointment with one of our board certified physicians.