Menopause is a natural biological process in which periods stop, marking the end of a woman’s fertility. Although many women fear the onset of menopause, the right medical care can make this stage more comfortable and improve your quality of life.
The medical definition of having reached menopause is a lack of menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months. It usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. The years leading up to menopause are called perimenopause, wherein the amount of estrogen produced by the ovaries begins to fluctuate.
It’s during perimenopause that many women begin to experience symptoms like:
We will run a series of hormone-based tests to diagnose and confirm menopause. If necessary, we may offer hormone therapy to alleviate some of your symptoms. If hormone therapy seems right for you, we’ll discuss the risks and benefits with you.
There are also a range of non-hormonal treatments available that can ease the symptoms of menopause. These may include prescription medications, or relaxation techniques to treat hot flashes or mood swings. Water-based lubricants can help soothe vaginal dryness, and make sexual intercourse more comfortable.
Some women are more prone to developing osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become weak and brittle. Bone loss increases in the first 4-8 years after menopause.
We may recommend a bone density test, and advice on bone-strengthening drugs or calcium supplements to prevent future bone loss. In addition, we may recommend suitable weight-bearing exercises to keep your bones strong.
Some women may experience pelvic floor disorders - such as urinary or bowel incontinence - as they get older. These problems occur in many women, but are treatable. Please speak with your doctor if experiencing these issues.
Speak with your gynecologist if you’re leaking urine during the day, or having fecal incontinence problems. Treatment options are available, and medical care can help improve your quality of life. In most cases, we will recommend exercises, medication, or pessaries to help improve bladder control.
During and after menopause, Physicians for Women continues with regular screening to check for breast cancer, uterine cancer, and ovarian cancer. We’ll also continue to monitor vulvar disorders.
The perimenopause and menopause years should not cause worry or stress. Our goal is to help our patients continue to live fulfilling, active, and healthy lives during this time.