Every woman will experience menopause. The average age for women in the U.S. 51 years, though it can occur earlier or later and peri-menopause, the time leading up to the complete cessation of menses is extremely variable in duration and can last from months to years. Some women seem to go through this transitional period with only minor and fleeting changes while other women deal with very unpleasant symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness and other issues. These can be a bit more challenging to tackle. Our Upper East Side, NY, gynecologist Dr. Sharon Diamond has some answers to help manage your menopause and peri-menopausal symptoms.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Once women reach menopause the amount of estrogen and progesterone the body produces is dramatically reduced, and during peri-menopause the production of these hormones can be very erratic – reaching record highs and lows. These changes can lead to a variety of symptoms such as hot flashes, headaches and night sweats. For some women a short course of hormone replacement therapy might be appropriate to combat the symptoms and restore or improve quality of life. For these women our Upper East Side, NY, OBGYN will provide you with the hormone replacement best for you, usually bio-identical treatments (hormones identical to those your own body produced during reproductive years). Treatment can come in the form of oral medication, gels, implants or patches which modestly increase estrogen or progesterone levels to successfully reduce and even eliminate your symptoms.
For some women, for example those with a history of, or at high risk for certain malignancies, hormone therapy would not be appropriate. For those women, or for those who choose not to take hormones, there are also simple measures you can take to reduce symptoms of menopause in your day-to-day life:
Treating Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
If you deal with intense hot flashes it’s a good idea to wear lighter, loose-fitted clothing of natural fibers, and to dress in layers. Turning down the temperature at night before going to bed or placing a fan next to your bed while you sleep can also help. Also, document which foods might also be causing your hot flashes. You may find that caffeine, spicy foods, or alcohol are triggers for you. Avoiding or reducing your intake of these foods and drinks can help reduce the frequency of your hot flashes and night sweats.
Treating Mood Swings
If you suddenly feel like you have a short fuse with those around you or you are finding yourself dealing with depression or anxiety, it is important that you talk to your doctor about these issues. There are certain non-medicinal approaches you can take to reduce stress and anxiety. Finding an outlet for your anxiety such as taking up yoga, meditation or even being referred to a therapist can help with your anxiety and negative feelings and help you find a sense of balance.
Menopausal women are also more likely to report sexual issues including discomfort or pain at this time. This is usually due to the decrease in estrogen that results in vaginal and vulvar dryness, thinning, and loss of elasticity. If you find that you are suffering from these changes, there are many options to help including vaginal products such as hyaluronic acid gels, or prescription local estrogens such as creams, suppositories, or rings. The MonaLisa Touch laser treatment is another option as are the use of special lubricants to help improve these uncomfortable symptoms.
Menopause may be a challenging time in a woman’s life but our expert gynecological team here in Upper East Side, NY, can help. We are happy to sit down with you and figure out a treatment plan that truly works.