Menopause is a process that occurs over months or years. It is the time in a woman’s life where fertility declines, estrogen levels decrease, and menstrual periods come to an end. Each woman will experience menopause at a different time and in a different way.
Although it is impossible to know exactly when menopause will occur, the following are a few things to keep in mind:
- The average age most women go through menopause is 51.
- Perimenopause is the 5-10 year time span that leads up to menopause. Some women may notice menopause symptoms during this period.
- There are a number of different medical, non-medical and lifestyle tools that can be used to help control the symptoms of menopause.
Signs And Symptoms of Menopause and Perimenopause
Menopause is associated with a number of signs and symptoms. Some of the most common include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
- Painful intercourse
- Vaginal dryness
- Weight gain
This not an exhaustive list. The symptoms of menopause can also impact other areas including your skin, sleep and metabolism.
At times, symptoms may be manageable but at other moments they may start to interfere with your day-to-day activities. If this happens, seeking medical advice can be helpful.
Managing Menopause Successfully
Menopause is natural. Although the symptoms of menopause can be a source of distress and discomfort, menopause itself does not need to be treated. It is the symptoms of menopause that need to be managed and ideally controlled. A number of options exist that can help you successfully manage symptoms. These include:
- Lifestyle changes. Diet, exercise and stopping smoking are all changes that should be considered as a first step. Although simple, these small changes may be all that is needed to help control symptoms.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT is used to ease the symptoms of menopause by mimicking the actions of the lost estrogen. HRT is especially useful for treatment of
hot flashes. It is available in pills, patches, creams or injections.
- Bio-identical hormones. Bioidentical hormones are plant-based estrogens that are synthetic. Like traditional HRT, bioidentical hormones come in various forms, including pills, patches, creams.
- Vaginal creams. A more targeted treatment to help manage vaginal dryness.
- Non-traditional options. Acupuncture, herbal remedies, yoga.
A combination of these management options may be needed to get your symptoms under control. But in all cases, be sure to speak to your doctor or a trusted specialist about your symptoms and health needs prior to navigating treatment on your own.