What is Menopause?
Menopause is the time when your ovaries stop working and your menstrual periods stop. It marks the end of your reproductive years. The doctors at Louisiana Women’s Healthcare tells you that you’ve reached menopause when your monthly period stops for 12 consecutive months.
What are the Stages of Menopause?
Most women experience three stages of menopause:
- Perimenopause: Perimenopause starts when your ovaries slowly produce less estrogen. Perimenopause usually begins after you turn 40 and often lasts up to 10 years. During the last year or two of perimenopause, the drop in the amount of estrogen produced by your body accelerates, and menopausal symptoms begin. However, since you’re still experiencing your menstrual cycles, pregnancy is still possible.
- Menopause: Menopause is the point when you no longer have menstrual periods, and your ovaries have stopped releasing eggs. Estrogen production drops dramatically.
- Postmenopause: Louisiana Women’s Healthcare refers to the years after menopause as postmenopause. At this stage, most symptoms of menopause decrease. However, due to the lack of estrogen, postmenopausal women experience an increased risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, and other medical issues. The doctors at Louisiana Women’s Healthcare helps mitigate your chances of developing these issues.
What are the Symptoms Associated with Menopause?
Some of the symptoms of perimenopause include:
- Breast tenderness
- Exacerbated premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Missed, irregular periods
- Heavier or lighter periods
As you get closer to and go through menopause, symptoms include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Uncomfortable sex
- Urinary urgency
- Emotional changes
- Dry skin, eyes or mouth
How is Menopause Treated?
It’s best to work with your doctor at Louisiana Women’s Healthcare to identify the treatments that will relieve your most uncomfortable symptoms. Sometimes, lifestyle changes, such as keeping cool, eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep is all that’s needed. However, medications are available to help relieve symptoms these steps don't alleviate.
Some of the more common medical interventions include:
- Low-Dose Hormonal Birth Control: During perimenopause, low-dose hormonal birth control helps stop or reduce hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood swings, as well as heavy or irregular periods.
- Hormone Therapy: Includes estrogen-rich medications. The medications are available in pill form, in skin patches, and in creams.
- Over-the-Counter (OTC) Products: Over-the-counter products help treat vaginal discomfort, dryness, and pain.
This life change doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. If menopause symptoms disrupt your daily life, call or make an appointment online today at Louisiana Women’s Healthcare in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.