What Is Menopause?
All women will experience it later in their life: Menopause is most commonly associated with the absence of the menstrual period for one year. Medically, it is the time when a woman’s ovaries ceases to function. This means that a woman experiencing menopause can no longer become pregnant. The ovaries are the main source of female hormones that help control female characteristics like breasts, body shape, and body hair; in addition, it regulates estrogen, which protects the bone. Therefore, it is more likely for women to experience osteoporosis later in life since the ovaries are not producing enough estrogen (Stöppler, M. M, n.d.).
How Do I Know I am Experiencing Menopause?
Menopause is not a process that occurs overnight. Instead, it is a gradual process that is transitional and the experience may be different for each woman. Typically, women around the age of 50 will begin to experience symptoms of menopause. However, in rare cases can occur in women as early as 30 and as late as 60. Symptoms that occur during menopause include abnormal vaginal bleeding, hot flashes, vaginal and urinary symptoms, and mood changes. These symptoms typically occur during the perimenopause stage, which is the beginning stage of menopause. However, the most obvious indication of menopause is the absence of the menstrual period for an entire year.
Do I Need Menopause Treatment?
Menopause symptoms are different for every woman and the transition may affect each woman differently. During perimenopause, it is still possible to become pregnant, so birth control is still recommended until one year has passed after the last period. Menopause is a natural event and does not typically require medical treatment. However, since women are more likely to experience osteoporosis due to lower levels of estrogen, there are medications that can help prevent bone loss. Some women may seek hormone therapy as a treatment option to help ease the symptoms they are experiencing–it will help reduce hot flashes and vaginal dryness, which may ease discomfort (The Experts Do Agree About Hormone Therapy, n.d.).
Other menopause treatments include vaginal estrogen, low-dose antidepressants, and gabapentin. Vaginal estrogen will relieve vaginal dryness and is administered directly into the vagina via a vaginal cream, tablet or ring. The estrogen is absorbed by the vaginal tissues and can help with dryness, discomfort during intercourse, and some urinary symptoms. Low-dose antidepressants can decrease menopausal hot flashes for women who are unable to take estrogen for health reasons. Gabapentin is typically used to treat seizures but has been shown to reduce hot flashes–it is useful for women who are unable to take estrogen and suffer from migraines.
If you are a woman 50 years old or older and are beginning to experience symptoms of menopause, you are not alone! Call Avalon Gynecology at (818) 233-8773 to make an appointment today. Located in Burbank, our specialists will help you alleviate your menopausal discomforts today.
Stöppler, M. M. (n.d.). Menopause Age, Early Peri/Post Symptoms (Weight Gain) & Treatment. Retrieved September 22, 2017, from http://www.medicinenet.com/menopause/article.htm
The Experts Do Agree About Hormone Therapy. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2017, from https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/the-experts-do-agree-about-hormone-therapy