Menopause is a significant life transition with complex treatment options. At Swedish, our women's health specialists have a vast amount of experience and knowledge to help women navigate through this phase of their lives. First and foremost, they understand that every woman experiences menopause differently, so their approach is customized for each patient depending on the symptoms they are experiencing.
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Menopause is a natural part of aging process for a woman, when her menstrual period ends and her ovaries permanently stop releasing eggs. Menopause is complete after 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period. Most women experience menopause between ages 40 and 58, with an average age of 51.
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
- Early morning awakening
- Vaginal dryness
- Fluctuations in sexual desire or response
- Difficulty sleeping
- Short-term memory loss
- Achy joints
- Frequent urination or leaking of urine
Menopause does not necessarily require treatment – it's a natural part of life. And for 15 percent to 20 percent of women, there are few, if any, unpleasant symptoms. For other women, however, symptoms can be more severe or bothersome. In these cases, treating the symptoms may be recommended. Depending on the symptoms, there are a variety of treatments available.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
For women with severe menopause symptoms, replacing some of the hormones no longer produced naturally can be helpful – especially for hot flashes and sweating, vaginal dryness, bladder problems and mood swings. But HRT isn't an option for every woman. Recent studies have found that while HRT may reduce the risk of colon cancer and hip fractures, it may increase the risk of breast cancer, heart attacks, stroke and Alzheimer's disease. It’s important to discuss this option with your doctor to see if it’s appropriate for you.
This substance found in soybeans, black cohosh, whole grains, legumes and flax seed may help menopausal women, if taken in large quantities.
Limiting caffeine and alcohol may reduce symptoms of anxiety, insomnia and calcium loss. Eating a diet low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, calcium and vitamin D is also recommended.
There are a variety of lifestyle choices you can make that have an impact on your experience with menopausal symptoms. Not smoking can reduce the risk of early menopause, as well as conditions such as heart disease and osteoporosis. Regular exercise may reduce hot flashes. And using relaxation techniques to manage stress may alleviate tension, anxiety and other symptoms.
Women who experience vaginal dryness may be helped by over-the-counter moisturizers and water-based lubricants.