Menopause is a big transitional time in a woman’s life. It marks the end of your menstrual cycles and your fertility. And, for many women, it’s also a very uncomfortable time of life.
Even though menopause is a biologically normal and natural process, living with the discomforts it presents isn’t something you just have to accept. Many of the symptoms of menopause are very manageable. In this blog, Dr. Edward J. Ramirez of The Fertility & Gynecology Center – Monterey Bay IVF explains more about the symptoms of menopause and how to manage them.
What is menopause?
Menopause is technically defined as one year after your last menstrual period. The time leading up to this last period is called perimenopause or pre-menopause and may last anywhere from a few months to 10 years.
You may have many of the symptoms commonly associated with menopause during this period of time. These symptoms may include hot flashes and mood changes, among others.
Although the average age of natural menopause is 51, it can happen at any time in your 40s or 50s. If you have a total hysterectomy, you can go into menopause at any age. This is called surgical menopause.
Ways to manage menopausal symptoms
When you’re going through perimenopause and menopause, your hormones will gradually decrease. Your estrogen and progesterone levels, in particular, will decline and level off.
The absence of estrogen and progesterone can cause a lot of uncomfortable symptoms. They may include the following:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats or cold flashes
- Discomfort during sex, which may be caused by vaginal dryness
- A need to urinate more frequently
- Mood changes, including irritability, depression, and mood swings
- Dry skin, mouth, or eyes
You may also experience weight gain, breast tenderness, difficulty concentrating, or hair loss.
How you can get relief
Although these symptoms can certainly cause discomfort, you don’t have to live with them forever. At your appointment with Dr. Ramirez about menopausal symptoms, the first thing he will usually do is order some blood tests. The following solutions may be prescribed for helping you manage menopausal symptoms:
Estrogen supplementation can provide relief for your symptoms. Previously, there were concerns that estrogen supplementation might be linked to an increased risk of heart disease. This was based on the results of a National Institutes of Health study, which included women in their 60s. However, Dr. Ramirez believes that the study results should not guide prescribing decisions for most women in their 50s.
Estrogen is a youth-promoting hormone that can make you feel great. You can feel energetic and youthful again, with your mind and body functioning at their peak. You take the lowest possible dose of estrogen based upon your personal family health history.
Vaginal estrogen supplements can relieve vaginal dryness, making sexual intercourse more comfortable.
Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs)
Selective estrogen receptor modulators (also known as SERMs) are a class of drugs that include the drug Evista. These drugs mimic estrogen’s beneficial benefits of reducing the loss of bone density, without providing actual estrogen.
Diet and exercise changes
In addition to hormone replacement therapy or SERMs, most women benefit from a change of their dietary and exercise habits. Choosing a lower-carbohydrate diet and getting regular exercise are beneficial in helping to moderate many of the symptoms of menopause.
If you’re experiencing the symptoms of menopause, you should definitely make an appointment for a consultation. Call our office in Monterey, California, today, or request an appointment online.