Menopause is a natural biological process for women. While most women believe menopause occurs in their early 50s, its symptoms can start at least 10 years earlier. Some women pass through the change of life with minimum disruption and discomfort. For others, symptoms can be severe and debilitating. Fortunately, there are many effective treatments available including lifestyle adjustments, medications (hormonal and non-hormonal), and Mona Lisa Touch with which West Des Moines OB/GYN can help.
What is menopause and its symptoms?
During the menopausal transition, women can experience many different physical and emotional changes. The most common symptoms are hot flashes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, vaginal dryness, mood swings, and short-term memory loss. These troublesome symptoms are often related to the disrupted hormonal rhythm that starts in perimenopause. Often times, menopause occurs during other midlife stressors like relationship issues, caring for young children, struggling with adolescents, caring for aging parents, career changes and education issues.
- Eight out of 100 women cease menstruation before age 40 (premature ovarian failure).
- Five out of 100 women continue menstruating until almost age 60.
- The average age when menopause occurs is 51.
- Women who smoke tend to experience the change of life earlier than nonsmokers.
How to Relieve Symptoms
Simple lifestyle changes such as changing what you consume, your sleeping habits and how often you exercise can help relieve symptoms. For example, decreasing or avoiding caffeine and alcohol consumption completely can positively impact you; drinking water is the best alternative because it will keep your body hydrated. Also, be sure to eat a well-balanced diet and increase your intake of Vitamins B, C, D and E by taking a women’s multivitamin. In addition to what you eat, sleep for 7-8 hours per night so your body gets the rest it needs. Plus, if you get a good night’s rest, you will have enough energy to exercise regularly.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), also referred to as postmenopausal hormone therapy is a treatment doctors might recommend to help relieve common symptoms of menopause and to address long-term biological changes such as bone loss. Women who have not undergone a hysterectomy are generally prescribed estrogen along with progesterone for HRT. Women who have had a hysterectomy use only estrogen during their hormone therapy treatments.
When going through hormone therapy, systemic products circulate throughout the bloodstream and to all parts of the body. These products are available as an oral tablet, a patch, gel, emulsion, spray or an injection that can treat hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal symptoms, and osteoporosis. Local, or nonsystemic, products affect only a specific or localized area of the body can be used for vaginal symptoms and are available as a cream, ring or tablet.
Overall, the goal is for the patient to use hormone therapy at the lowest effective dose for five years or less. There are also a few non-hormonal therapies available to help with menopausal symptoms. Women should see their health care professional to discuss menopause and the specific symptoms they are having to understand all of their treatment options.
How West Des Moines OB/GYN Can Help
All of the providers at West Des Moines OB/GYN offer menopause management including hormone replacement therapy. One of our nurse practitioners, Maggie Livingston, ARNP, NCMP, has been certified by the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) since 2014.
Several of our physicians offer Mona Lisa Touch, a non-hormonal CO2 laser for symptoms of vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, and irritative vaginal symptoms unrelieved with other methods. This quick procedure (<5 minutes per treatment) is performed in the office for three treatments initially followed by one booster treatment in 12-24 months depending on when patient’s symptoms return.
During a consultation, we will discuss your menopausal symptoms and after reviewing your personal history and risk factors, we can determine the best treatment option for you.
Through all of life’s stages, our care team at West Des Moines OB/GYN is here to support you. We provide a variety of convenient services and individualized care for your specific needs. Learn more about our services or schedule an appointment and experience the difference.