Gynecologists in Independence and Blue Springs, Mo. Offering Menopause Management
For many women, menopause can be a time of uncertainty and challenge. As our bodies age, we often experience a range of physical and emotional symptoms that can make us feel out of control – “hot flashes,” night sweats, uncomfortable or painful sex, erratic periods or a host of other issues. Menopause doesn’t have to be “simply endured,” however. The gynecologists of Healthcare for Women Medical Group advocate safe and effective treatments to minimize or alleviate menopause symptoms and improve women’s lives. Our physicians have decades of experience in menopause management, and we encourage you to make an appointment if you are experiencing issues.
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What is menopause?
Menopause is the time when a woman has not had a period for 12 consecutive months. The average age for menopause is 51, although it varies by individual.
Perimenopause, the time leading up to menopause in which women begin to experience missed or irregular periods and other menopause symptoms, can last several years.
The years following menopause are referred to as post menopause. After menopause, the severity and occurrence of symptoms generally goes down. Any bleeding after menopause should be reported and evaluated to rule out uterine cancer.
The most commonly associated symptom with menopause is a “hot flash,” where you suddenly feel warm, sometimes with sweating and flushed skin. Other common symptoms of menopause include:
- Vaginal dryness which can cause discomfort during sex and/or painful urination
- Lowered or lack of sexual desire
- Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
- Racing heart
- Achy joints and muscles
- Chills or sudden changes in body temperature
- Weight gain or slow metabolism
- Urinary problems such as more frequent infections, or having to go more frequently
While some women have mild to moderate menopause symptoms, others experience them much more intensely. We encourage any woman with symptoms that make her uncomfortable to call for an appointment. Our doctors are familiar with the range of lifestyle, natural and medical treatments available for menopause and will work with you to understand your options and make the best decision for your health.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – Estrogen therapy has proven to be very effective in relieving the hot flashes cause by menopause. There are both synthetic and bioidentical (from plant sources) hormone replacements. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation about HRT, which persuades women to sometimes rule them out unnecessarily. Our physicians can provide the facts and help you determine if they might be an appropriate option for you.
- Estrogen creams, tablets or rings can be prescribed to relieve vaginal dryness.
- Non-hormonal prescription medications – Certain types of low-dose antidepressants, gabapentin and the high blood pressure medication clonidine, have all shown results in providing relief from hot flashes.
- Herbal or dietary supplements – Black cohosh has been cited by some as being successful in treating hot flashes. There is no scientific study to prove its effectiveness and we encourage you to talk with the doctor before starting any herbal or dietary supplement.
- Lifestyle Changes – As with any stage in life, exercise and a healthy diet play a significant role in how you feel. Exercise can minimize some of the symptoms of menopause and often avoiding certain foods or substances (caffeine, spicy dishes, alcohol, etc.) can relieve symptoms.
Making the most of your appointment
The more your doctor knows, the better he or she is able to help you with your menopause symptoms. We encourage patients to be ready to discuss:
- Any questions you have
- Your overall health
- Symptoms you are experiencing, their frequency and the ones most disruptive to your lifestyle
- Things you’ve tried that felt like they relieved your symptoms, or things that may have made them worse
- Triggers for symptoms – weather changes? Certain foods? Other?
- Any medicines you’re on or are considering
- The last time you had a period
- Concerns you have about treatment such as hormone replacement therapy