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Urgent Care

Real Patients. Real Results.

Kara Caron was approaching age 50 when she began to assess the gynecological care she needed as she neared menopause.

“I wanted to breeze through my menopausal age as gracefully as possible,” she said. “And I wanted an expert in that area.”

Read Kara’s story here.

Menopause Treatment and Care for Women in MA & RI

At Southcoast Health, we’re dedicated to providing care for women in our community. We are proud to introduce the Southcoast Menopause & Wellness Program – the region’s first program dedicated to comprehensive, individualized care for women in their midlife and menopausal health transition.

The goal of our specialized program is to help you better understand your health during these times and to help medically manage midlife and menopausal conditions to improve your quality of life. For anyone experiencing menopausal symptoms, you can contact your OB/GYN provider or call 508-973-2208 to join our menopause program.

What is Menopause

Menopause is a normal and natural event; all women go through it. For some it is a time where significant bothersome symptoms arise leading to a decreased quality of life. Menopause commonly occurs between ages 45-55 with an average age of 51 in the US. Menopause is complete when menstrual periods have stopped for 1 full year. At Southcoast Health, we are here to listen to and help guide you through this transition.

Stages of Menopause

Menopause occurs in three gradual stages:

PerimenopausePerimenopause takes place a few years before menopause begins. At this time, the ovaries have started to make less of the hormone estrogen, with estrogen levels dropping quickly in the last one to two years of this stage. Perimenopause ends when menopause begins, during the time when the ovaries stop releasing any eggs. At this point, many women start to experience symptoms.
MenopauseMenopause officially begins when a year has passed since a woman’s last menstrual period. During this stage, the ovaries are not releasing any eggs and have dramatically decreased estrogen levels. The average age at which menopause begins is 51.
PostmenopauseThe postmenopause stage begins after 12 months without a period and continues through the rest of your life. During this time, symptoms start to decrease for most women. Certain health risks can arise as women get older and women should continue to see their health care provider regularly.  

Signs and Symptoms

Decreased libido/sexual interest
  • Loss of libido is multifactorial around the menopausal years. Due to the loss of estrogen, the vaginal tissues thin and sex can become painful. Other emotional factors such as stress, depression and fatigue also play a role. Changes in your body can also impact your desire for sex.
Depression/anxiety/mood swings
  • Mood changes can vary in perimenopause and menopause. Symptoms vary from mild irritability to severe depression, anxiety and rage. Increased stress is common during these years as well. Sleep disruption also worsens mood. If you are feeling like harming yourself or others, please reach out to your healthcare provider.
Fatigue/sleep disruption
  • Many women experience sleep disruption during perimenopause and menopause. This is due to changing levels of estrogen, progesterone and cortisol. Sleep disruption is often due to night sweats, but also can happen without experiencing night sweats.
Hot flashes/night sweats
  • Hot flashes are a sudden rush of heat and flushed skin often associated with sweating. If they occur at night they are known as night sweats. The thermoregulatory center is in the hypothalamus in the brain. The brain’s response to low estrogen levels is to cause a hot flash or night sweat, also known as vasomotor symptoms. Women can experience hot flashes for 7-10 years after their final period.
  • Peak bone density occurs around age 30 in women. Bone loss happens gradually every year after that. Around the time of menopause, rapid bone loss occurs. Women need to make sure they are getting enough calcium, vitamin D and weight bearing exercise.
Painful intercourse/vaginal dryness
  • Loss of estrogen causes thinning of all the tissues of the vagina and vulva. This can lead to a variety of symptoms such as burning and severe pain with intercourse.
Sore/achy joints
  • Many women feel stiffness in their knees, feet, hands and hips during the menopausal transition. Menopausal hormone replacement can improve symptoms.

Not every woman experiences the same symptoms- they can differ from woman to woman. But these signs and symptoms can help determine if menopause is approaching.

Treatment for Menopause Symptoms

There is no cure for menopause, as it is a natural part of aging in women. But there are different treatment options to help with symptoms that may be disruptive to your quality of life. One of those options is hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for those who are experiencing moderate to severe symptoms. This involves estrogen therapy, which comes in different forms such as a pill, patch, vaginal ring, or gel. However, although it is effective, HRT may not be for everyone, and should be discussed with your doctor.

Other strategies that can help you manage your menopause symptoms include the following:

  • Stay cool during hot flashes by wearing layers and drinking a cold glass of water. Also, try limiting what may be causing your hot flashes, such as spicy foods or caffeine.
  • Decrease night sweats by keeping your room cold and turning on your fan. Always have an ice pack handy in case you need it.
  • Try to get enough sleep by developing a nightly routine and overall sleep schedule. You also want to avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can interrupt your sleeping patterns.
  • Exercise regularly and eat healthy to keep an active lifestyle that helps you maintain your weight.
  • Stay relaxed by developing techniques that promote relaxation, such as guided imagery or deep breathing. There are many forms of media that can also help you find the relaxation technique that works for you.
  • Ease vaginal dryness by using vaginal lubricants and moisturizers.
  • Manage your bone health to avoid risks of osteoporosis by finding out your bone density status.

Schedule an Appointment with an OB/GYN at Southcoast Health

Let our well-trained staff of OB/GYNs at Southcoast Health help you navigate your menopausal years with ease and confidence. Southcoast Health provides care and treatment for women in menopause in North Dartmouth and the surrounding areas of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Contact us today and find an OB/GYN near you or call 508-973-2208 to join our menopause program.