Menopause

icon depicting female menopause

For women, menopause is a natural part of the aging process. It is often referred to as the change of life and marks the transition between a woman’s childbearing years and her non-childbearing years.  Some women don’t have any trouble with menopausal symptoms, while others struggle with a multitude of symptoms.  The physicians of Louisiana Women’s Healthcare are dedicated to helping women navigate and manage the symptoms of menopause…necessary, the physicians of Louisiana Women’s Healthcare are ready to assist you in this new phase of your life. 

What is menopause?

Menopause is the time in your life when your menstrual cycles naturally come to an end. After menopause, you no longer ovulate, get your period or have the ability to become pregnant. You officially reach menopause once you’ve gone 12 months without a menstrual period, but you may experience a number of symptoms in the years leading up to it.

What are the three phases of menopause?

  • Perimenopause: The transitional phase before menopause is called perimenopause. During perimenopause, fluctuations in your hormone levels can cause symptoms and noticeable changes in your body.  You may experience hot flashes (sudden waves of body heat with sweating and flushing) and irregular periods.
  • Menopause: Menopause is the final occurrence of your menstrual period, defined by the 12-month mark of being period-free. This happens around the age of 51, and a woman can no longer become pregnant. You will begin to experience the symptoms of menopause full on by this stage.
  • 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. 

What are the symptoms of menopause?

Menopause symptoms can vary, and some women have no signs at all while others experience severe discomfort.  Most women notice a change in their periods’ frequency and flow. Additional symptoms might include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Headaches
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood swings
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Reduced libido
  • Joint aches and pains
  • Insomnia or disrupted sleep
  • Irregular, racing, or pounding heartbeat
  • Urinary incontinence (involuntary leakage)

How do I know if I am in menopause?

Your periods become irregular. This is the classic sign that you are on your way to menopause. Your periods may come more often or less often, be heavier or lighter or last longer or shorter than before. 

How is menopause treated?

It is best to work with your physician 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:

How can hormone therapy (HT) help with menopause symptoms?

Hormone therapy is an effective and safe treatment for many women going through menopause.  Falling levels of female hormones are responsible for many of the physical and emotional menopause symptoms women experience including hot flashes, mood swings, and vaginal dryness. Hormone therapy helps restore these levels, which can bring relief to many women.  In addition to alleviating menopausal symptoms, recent research has found that beginning HRT at the time menopause begins may provide additional health benefits such as protection against heart disease, stroke, breast cancer and even dementia in later years.

Menopause management in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

With the right care, there are many ways to address the disruptive symptoms that come with menopause. If your quality of life is diminished due to menopause, the physicians of Louisiana Women’s Healthcare are ready to help.  Schedule an appointment online, through MyOchsner, or by phone (225) 201-2010.