Menopause, or “the change,” is just one of life’s many natural biological processes. It occurs when a woman’s menstrual cycle stops for 12 months. Unfortunately with it can come a variety of symptoms that for someone women can impede normal everyday activities.
If you are experiencing night sweats, hot flashes, increased anxiety or irritability, hormone replacement therapy may be able to help. It is primarily used to treat hot flashes, but treating those may also yield additional benefits in other areas including improved mood and reduced fatigue.
The average age for women to experience menopause is 51, but some may experience symptoms as early as age 40 or as late as age 55. This transition period occurs in three phases:
- Perimenopause is the transition time leading up to your last period when a woman’s body begins gradually producing fewer hormones (estrogen and progesterone).
- Menopause occurs when it has been one year since a woman’s last period. The ovaries produce significantly less estrogen and no longer produce eggs.
- Post-menopause refers to the years following menopause. During this phase, most menopausal symptoms decrease or cease altogether.
Symptoms of Menopause
The severity of perimenopause and menopause symptoms can vary, but the most common symptoms include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Decreased sex drive
- Dry eyes, skin and mouth
- Irritability or mood swings
- Vaginal dryness or pain
- Changes in urinary frequency
- Hair loss
- Memory problems
Treatment for Menopause Symptoms
With the onset of menopause, the ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone—which is what triggers symptoms. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can not only help relieve menopause symptoms but also protect against osteoporosis. As with any medical treatment, there are risks associated with HRT, but it remains the most effective treatment for perimenopause and menopause symptoms.
Types of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Your physician will test your hormone levels to determine which type of hormone replacement therapy is best for you. Some may contain both progesterone and estrogen while others may only contain estrogen and, sometimes, testosterone. These hormones may be produced synthetically or derived from plant estrogens that occur in nature as with bioidentical hormones.
Hormone replacement therapy is available in various forms including a pill, patch, or vaginal cream or gel. Physicians often prefer topical methods as the skin absorbs them into the bloodstream rather than passing through the liver.
When to Consult a Physician
Don’t let the symptoms of menopause interfere with your daily life. The physicians at GreenValley OB/GYN can help you manage menopause and determine if you are a candidate for hormone replacement therapy. To schedule an appointment, call (336) 378-1110 today.