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Menopausal

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Menopause is the stage of a woman’s life when her menstrual cycle comes to a gradual end. The ovaries start to produce less estrogen and progesterone hormones. You can no longer become pregnant once menopause has started.

There are menopausal transition phases that occur leading up to a woman’s final menstrual cycle or period. You may not get your period for months at a time while in perimenopause. Once you have gone a year without a period, however, it is considered that you have reached menopause.

The average age at which menopause occurs is 51 years, but the age range can vary between 40 and 55 years old.

Symptoms That Accompany Menopause

No two women will experience menopause in exactly the same way. Some women experience little to no symptoms, but more than 50% of women find their lives changed in a number of different ways.

Some signs that indicate you are going through menopause are the following:
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Decreased libido
  • Mood swings
  • Heart palpitations
  • Thinning hair
Menopausal Treatment

If you are experiencing menopause and are uncomfortable, there are treatments and steps that you and your physician can take to alleviate symptoms.

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    Your doctor can treat menopausal symptoms that are due to declined hormone levels. Follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone tests can be performed to look at changes in your hormone levels. These tests are performed using urine, saliva, or blood samples. If it is determined that your hormone levels are too low, hormone replacement therapy can alleviate many of the symptoms of menopause.

    A pelvic exam can also reveal decreased estrogen levels as evidenced by changes in the vaginal lining. This area can become dry and greatly decrease sexual pleasure by causing discomfort during intercourse. Estrogen replacement therapy for vaginal dryness can be relieved with a local vaginal estrogen gel or cream. You may receive hormone therapy in the form of pills, patches, or vaginal rings to treat hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and vaginal dryness. As an added benefit, hormone replacement therapy can also help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

    There are also non-hormonal therapies that help menopausal symptoms and these include lifestyle changes, such as:
    • Cutting back on caffeine and alcohol
    • Eating more soy, which contains estrogen
    • Taking calcium and Vitamin D supplements

    Getting lots of exercise, doing specific Kegel exercises to strengthen the vaginal muscles, and practicing deep breathing or taking up yoga, meditation, or tai chi can all help with menopause discomfort.

    Visit Your Gynecologist for Menopausal Care

    Certain tests are still needed after menopause. Regular bone density scans will check whether your bones are thinning. Pap smears are still necessary to check for cervical cancer, and these tests are performed during your annual exam. If you experience vaginal bleeding after menopause, you should consult your physician immediately, as this can be an early sign of other health issues.
    Although menopause can be an uncomfortable and unfamiliar change, receiving prompt and proper care from your doctor can make a big difference.