Menopause is defined as the end of spontaneous menstrual cycles. Menopause is a natural event for all women and is diagnosed once a woman has not had her menstrual cycle for 12 consecutive months. Menopause may also occur as a result of medical therapy or surgery.
While menopausal symptoms may begin years before a woman reaches menopause, the average age in the US is around 51. Some women, however, may experience this change by their early 40s or as late as 60. The transition phase that occurs in the years prior is called the perimenopause. For many women, this is the most difficult phase of the transition.
Women frequently experience menopause at a time similar to that of other women in their family. Timing of menopause can also be influenced by genetics and by smoking.
Women experience a range of symptoms during this transition. Some women only experience changes in their menstrual cycle, while others experience symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness, mood changes and painful intercourse.
The transition to menopause is natural and normal, but many women benefit from management of their menopausal symptoms. Management may come in the form of lifestyle changes, dietary changes, or medical therapy.
Each woman is unique and her needs during menopause should be assessed in an individualized fashion. We can be a resource for the unique healthcare needs of women during this time well as a source of information regarding therapies to benefit you during the transition.
Hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms
Perhaps nothing has been as confusing to women as the use of hormonal therapy for symptoms of menopause. The results of the Women's Health Initiative were released more than ten years ago, but the debate about the safety of hormone therapy rages on. In the midst of this debate, there has been a flood of information (good and bad) touting the benefits of alternative hormones, bioidentical hormones, and natural therapies.
The North American Menopause Society, The Endocrine Society and the American Society of Reproductive Medicine recently published a joint statement regarding the current formulations of hormone therapy available. This Statement is based on the current research and recommendations for the use of hormones in menopause.
Recent research has focused directly on the peri-menopausal woman and her needs. Newer forms of hormone therapy do appear to have improved safety over the medications used in the past.
Hormone therapy is no longer a “one-size fits all” prescription. Each woman needs to discuss her symptoms, concerns and goals of therapy with her health care provider. When used, hormone therapy should be tailored to these symptoms and goals.
The physicians at Providence OB/GYN have a wealth of experience and knowledge in managing the symptoms at all stages of menopause. We are happy to be your resource for evidence-based and accurate information about treating the symptoms that go along with this transition.
Click here for more information about our menopause care and possible treatments. To schedule an appointment, please visit us on MyChart or call on of our two convenient locations.