When women from Orange County and the Greater Los Angeles area go through the change of life known as menopause, they will find expert care and medical service from the doctors at The Women’s Health Center, located in Fountain Valley, California.
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Menopause Q & A
What Is Menopause?
Menopause is the period of natural change in a woman’s life when she stops having menstrual periods and the ovaries stop producing estrogen. The average age of menopause is 51. The body goes through a lot of hormonal adjustment at this time and the symptoms can be challenging to live with and affect her quality of life.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
The symptoms differ from woman to woman but typically include variations on hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, decreased libido, and vaginal dryness. The doctors at the Women’s Health Center help their patients to manage their hormonal changes and symptoms to live more comfortable lives.
What Treatments Minimize the Symptoms of Menopause?
The doctors at The Women’s Health Center will work closely with their patient to ensure that the best treatments are applied to reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. The doctor may suggest alternative therapies including meditation, relaxation techniques, and acupuncture to reduce symptoms. Many women benefit from merely taking enough time to themselves for self-nurturing. Your doctor may also suggest some lifestyle changes including dietary variations and increased activity levels. Sometimes spicy foods and caffeine can trigger hot flashes or sleeplessness, and increased activity not only helps to maintain a healthy weight but also boosts the feel-good chemicals in the brain like serotonin. In some cases, hormone therapy may be suggested as medical treatment. Depending on the individual, the doctor may prescribe a combination of estrogen and progesterone or estrogen on its own.
How does hormone replacement therapy work?
When a woman goes through the natural changes of menopause, her hormone levels will fluctuate and eventually decrease. While these changes are completely normal, some women would prefer to reduce their symptoms. Hormone therapy (HT) replaces those hormones no longer made by the body and can reduce hot flashes and vaginal dryness. HT can be taken in pill, skin patch, gel, cream or spray form. Women who only have vaginal dryness may be prescribed “local” estrogen therapy in the form of a vaginal ring, tablet, or cream. HT can help many women but will need to be discussed in detail with your doctor to determine if it is the best choice for you.
What are the risks of hormone therapy?
Hormone therapy may increase the risk of certain types of cancer and other conditions:
• Estrogen-only therapy causes the lining of the uterus to grow and can increase the risk of uterine cancer.
• Combined hormone therapy is associated with a small increased risk of heart attack. This risk may be related to age, existing medical conditions, and when a woman starts taking hormone therapy.
• Combined hormone therapy and estrogen-only therapy are associated with a small increased risk of stroke and deep vein thrombosis. Forms of therapy not taken by mouth (patches, sprays, rings, and others) may have less risk of causing deep vein thrombosis than those taken by mouth.
• Combined hormone therapy is associated with a small increased risk of breast cancer.
Can other medications help with menopause symptoms?
An antidepressant is available for the treatment of hot flashes. Gabapentin, an antiseizure medication, and clonidine, a blood pressure medication, are prescription drugs that can be prescribed to reduce hot flashes and ease sleep problems associated with menopause. Selective estrogen receptor modulators are drugs that act on tissues that respond to estrogen. Two drugs containing selective estrogen receptor modulators are available for the relief of hot flashes and pain during intercourse caused by vaginal dryness.
Can plant and herbal supplements help with menopause symptoms?
Plants and herbs that have been used for relief of menopause symptoms include soy, black cohosh, and Chinese herbal remedies. Only a few of these substances have been studied for safety and effectiveness.
Can bioidentical hormones help with menopause symptoms?
Bioidentical hormones come from plant sources. They include commercially available products and compounded preparations. Compounded bioidentical hormones are made by a compounding pharmacist from a health care provider’s prescription. Compounded drugs are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They have the same risks as hormone therapies approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but they also may have additional risks because of the way they are made. There is no scientific evidence that compounded hormones are safer or more effective than standard hormone therapy.
Can vaginal moisturizers and lubricants help with menopause symptoms?
These over-the-counter products can be used to help with vaginal dryness and painful sexual intercourse that may occur during menopause. They do not contain hormones, so they do not have an effect on the vagina’s thickness or elasticity. Vaginal moisturizers replace moisture and restore the natural acidity of the vagina and can be used every 2–3 days as needed. Lubricants can be used each time you have sexual intercourse.