Perimenopause and Menopause
Menopause is different for every woman.
For some, menopause symptoms are minor or nonexistent. For others, the same symptoms can wreak havoc in their lives and impact their quality of life. The age in which menopause symptoms begin differs for every woman, as well.
At Women’s HealthFirst, we understand that no two women are alike, and we aim to tailor our approach to their OB-GYN care around each woman’s specific needs and concerns. This goes for menopause symptom relief, as well as in everything else we do.
It’s a Natural Process
It’s important to note that menopause – and its precursor, perimenopause – are natural and normal phases of a woman’s reproductive life. Neither is considered a disorder or disease requiring treatment. However, if your menopause symptoms become overwhelming or interfere with your ability to carry out your daily tasks, it’s time to ask your gynecologist about how to best relieve those symptoms.
What’s Going On During Menopause?
Just as puberty marks the beginning of a woman’s reproductive years, menopause marks its end. As you approach menopause – on average, at about the age of 50 – your body undergoes many different changes. Most of these are a result of the gradual decline in the production of the hormones called estrogen and progesterone.
Signs and symptoms that occur as a result of menopause include:
- Irregular periods
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Weight gain
- Vaginal dryness
- Sleep disturbances
- Muscle and joint pain
- Mood swings
Ultimately, you stop having your menstrual period. When you have not had a period for 12 consecutive months, you are considered to have undergone menopause.
The transitional stage prior to that, when your periods begin to become more irregular, is known as perimenopause. This stage can last for years and often includes other symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats. During perimenopause, your estrogen levels may fluctuate from low to high and back again. After menopause, however, your estrogen levels remain at a very low level.
Complications of Menopause
The loss of estrogen in the body during and after menopause can increase your risk of developing serious medical conditions, including:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
This is because, in addition to controlling your menstrual cycle, estrogen has multiple protective properties in the body. It helps regulate bone metabolism, to keep your bones strong and healthy. Estrogen also protects your heart by keeping blood vessels flexible, to better facilitate blood flow.
Treating Menopause & Perimenopause Symptoms
There are several treatment options available to help relieve menopause and perimenopause symptoms, and our doctors can work with you to help you decide which option is best for you.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Prescription medication with estrogen and progesterone – known as hormone replacement therapy, or HRT – is a popular treatment for women with menopause symptoms. In addition to providing menopause symptom relief, HRT can help reduce your risk of osteoporosis. There are a variety of hormone-based therapies that are safe and effective, as well as FDA-approved to treat menopause symptoms.
If HRT is not the right choice for you, there are additional options. These include certain lifestyle choices, alternative therapies like acupuncture, and medications designed to target specific signs and symptoms – such as low-dose antidepressants for hot flashes, bisphosphonates to help prevent bone loss, and lubricants to address vaginal dryness.
Menopause Treatment in Buffalo Grove, Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates, Barrington & Bartlett, IL
There is no need to suffer with menopause or perimenopause symptoms. The OB-GYN professionals at Women’s HealthFirst will work with you to determine the best way to address your particular symptoms – as well as any risk of complications, such as osteoporosis.