Understanding Menopause for Women in Our Community
Menopause is a normal stage in a woman’s life when her menstrual period stops. However, some women experience menopause due to a medical treatment or surgery. This induced menopause can be more intense, but has many of the same symptoms and treatments as natural menopause.
Natural menopause usually starts with a period of transition called perimenopause. Physical changes begin in perimenopause, which can last up to eight years. Some, but not all, women experience symptoms during this time.
Once a woman has gone one year without having periods, she has gone through menopause and is considered postmenopause. The average age for this is 51. Women who smoke tend to reach menopause an average of two years earlier.
To learn more or ask any questions about menopause, contact us to find an OB/GYN near you.
What Causes Menopause?
A woman’s two main sex hormones are estrogen and progesterone. Levels of these hormones rise and fall each month triggering ovulation and menstruation. As a woman ages, the monthly rise and fall becomes less regular and predictable. Eventually, hormone levels settle at low levels. At this point, ovulation and menstruation stop and menopause occurs.
Common Symptoms of Menopause
Symptoms of menopause can start in perimenopause and continue postmenopause. Because estrogen and progesterone are involved in processes throughout your body, the signs and symptoms of menopause vary widely. They include:
- Decreased sexual desire or response
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Night sweats
- Osteoporosis (thinning bones)
- Sleep problems
- Vaginal dryness and painful sex
Menopause Treatment in MA & RI at Southcoast Health
Since menopause is normal, there is no treatment for it. Instead, doctors focus on relieving symptoms if they become severe enough to affect your quality of life. Hormone replacement therapy is very effective at easing symptoms, but it isn’t right for every woman.
Other strategies for managing symptoms and staying healthy include:
- Dressing in layers, using small fans and sipping cold drinks during hot flashes
- Using a fan at night, keeping your room cool and having an ice pack handy for night sweats
- Establishing a nighttime routine and sleep schedule
- Getting regular exercise, eating healthy and maintaining a healthy weight
- Practicing relaxation techniques and stress management to combat anxiety and mood changes
- Using vaginal lubricants and moisturizers to ease vaginal dryness
- Getting regular sexual stimulation to help maintain vaginal health and blood flow
- Finding out your bone density status and working with your doctor to maintain bone health
- Using medications other than hormones to ease symptoms, such as antidepressant medications to help with mood swings
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 surrounding areas of MA and RI.