Menopause

Overview

Menopause is a normal condition that every woman experiences at some point in her life when her ovaries stop producing estrogen, a primary hormone. It often occurs 12 months after your last menstrual period and signifies the end of menstrual cycles. The average age for a woman to experience menopause is 51, however, it can begin in a woman’s 40s and 50s. Menopause that occurs before the age of 40 is considered premature menopause.

Causes and risk factors

There are several natural and medically related causes for menopause:

  • Natural decline of reproductive hormones
  • A result of medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  • Hysterectomy
  • Primary ovarian insufficiency
  • Surgical menopause — Surgical menopause is a type of menopause induced by a surgical procedure such as a bilateral oophorectomy, the surgical removal of your ovaries

Symptoms

Common symptoms of menopause include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Irregular periods
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Night sweats
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of breast fullness
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Pain during intercourse 

Diagnosis

You are considered to be in menopause if you haven’t had a period for 12 months and have no other medical related reasoning for the halt of a menstrual cycle. It can be diagnosed through:

  • Clinical history
  • Blood test ­– Although menopause can be confirmed through a blood test, it is important to keep in mind that hormones fluctuate. A blood test only shows hormone levels at the particular time of the administered test

Treatments

Although menopause requires no medical treatment, there are several options that can help manage your symptoms:

  • Hormone therapy ­— Estrogen therapy is considered the most effective treatment for hot flashes specifically. Depending on your individual medical history and condition, your doctor may recommend the lowest dose to relieve your symptoms. In addition, estrogen helps prevent bone loss.
  • Vaginal estrogen — This is used to relieve vaginal dryness and can be administered directly to the vagina using cream, a tablet or a ring.  Releasing a small amount of estrogen, this treatment option can decrease dryness, discomfort with intercourse and any urinary symptoms.
  • Gabapentin — This is typically used to treat seizures, however it has been known to help reduce hot flashes.
  • Low-dose antidepressants — Certain antidepressants are linked to the reduction of hot flashes. This is typically helpful for women who can’t take estrogen due to health related issues.
  • Management programs — Our experts offer a menopause management program that deals with natural alternatives to medicine, in addition to osteoporosis treatment.

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