Menopause is the permanent cessation of menstruation and diagnosed in females after 1 year of absent menstrual periods. The average age of menopause is 51 years.
Perimenopause usually begins a few years before the last menstrual cycle and is characterized by symptoms associated with decreased blood levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Possible Causes of Early Menopause:
- Surgical removal of ovaries
- Radiation therapy, especially targeted to the pelvic area
- Premature Ovarian Failure
Physical/Emotional Changes of Perimenopause or Menopause:
- Menstrual irregularity
- Hot flashes or flushes, night sweats- sensation of heat spreading from the waist or chest toward the neck, face and upper arms
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Vaginal itching, burning, discomfort, and dryness during intercourse
- Thinning of lining of urethra, causing frequent or urgent urination
- Bloating of upper abdomen
- Breast tenderness
- Mood changes, increased tension and anxiety
- Sleeping difficulty
- Decreased sexual desire and response
- Possible changes in memory or other mental abilities
- Depression and fatigue
- Bone loss and increased risk for osteoporosis
- Cholesterol level may increase
Treatment Options for Menopause Symptoms:
Systemic Hormone Replacement-
- Estrogen therapy
- Progesterone and estrogen treatment in patients with a uterus. Estrogen therapy alone can increase the risk of endometrial cancer in a patient with a uterus.
- Risks and benefits need to be discussed with a healthcare provider. Systemic hormone replacement therapy may increase a patient’s risk of stroke, blood clots, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.
Localized Vaginal Estrogen Therapy-
Used to relieve vaginal symptoms of menopause. Vaginal estrogen therapy can be administered into the vagina through a pill, cream or ring method. It is believed to be free of systemic effects and risks for most patients.
- Prescription medications such as types of antidepressants.
- Herbal remedies such as soy products, black cohosh are helpful in some patients.
- Vaginal moisturizers and water-soluble lubricants to relieve vaginal symptoms.
- Paced breathing exercises, acupuncture, yoga.
Menopause can be a challenging time in a woman’s life. Help is available by exploring your treatment options with an experienced healthcare provider.