While most women start menopause as they approach 50, each woman experiences menopause and its associated symptoms in a unique way. Some may have dramatic menopause symptoms that significantly impair their quality of life. Others may experience only a few slight physical changes that are easily manageable.
Why Choose Loma Linda University Health Menopause Treatment
At Loma Linda University Health, our compassionate specialists are dedicated to:
- Assessing the severity of a woman's menopause
- Developing effective treatment plans that will help women manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life
- Supporting women as they adopt new lifestyle habits, such as dietary changes, that will help them better cope with menopause
- Researching new methods of treating menopause through our ongoing clinical trials
Menopause is sometimes called "the change of life” because it is the time in a woman's life when her period stops. It is a normal change in a woman's body. Menopause is reached when a woman has not had a period for 12 consecutive months (and there are no other causes, such as pregnancy or illness, for this change). Menopause often occurs when a woman is between the ages of 45 and 55.
Menopause affects every woman differently and for some, the only symptom may be that periods have stopped. Common symptoms of menopause include a change in the pattern of periods, which can be shorter or longer, lighter or heavier, and / or more or less time between periods.
Some women also have the following symptoms:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Trouble sleeping through the night
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood swings
- Trouble focusing
- Hair loss or thinning
How can menopause be managed?
Eating a healthy diet and exercising at menopause are important to feeling well. And most women do not need any special treatment for menopause. But some women may have menopause symptoms that need treatment. There is no one treatment that is appropriate for all women. Those with menopause symptoms should discuss the various treatments with a physician in order to choose the best option. Sometimes, menopause symptoms go away over time without treatment, but there’s no way to know when this may occur.
If used properly, hormone therapy (HT) – once called hormone replacement therapy – is one way to deal with the more difficult symptoms of menopause. There are many kinds of hormone therapies, including bioidentical hormone replacement, and only a physician can suggest what is best for each individual woman. Like many treatment options, HT and bioidentical hormone therapy have benefits and possible risks.
HT can help with menopause by reducing hot flashes, treating vaginal dryness, slowing bone loss and improving sleep. Women who may be pregnant, have problems with vaginal bleeding and who have had a stroke or heart attack, blood clots, liver disease or heart disease should not use HT.
Some women decide to take herbal or other plant-based products to help relieve hot flashes. Some of the most common ones are soy and other sources of phytoestrogen such as black cohosh, wild yam and valerian root. However, there is no proof that these herbs or pills containing these herbs can help. It is important that women discuss these options, including bioidentical hormone therapy, with their physician before trying them.
What else can be done to control menopause symptoms?
Try to avoid any triggers that bring on hot flashes. For example, some women report that eating or drinking hot or spicy foods, alcohol or caffeine, feeling stressed or being in a hot place can bring on hot flashes. Dressing in layers and keeping a fan in the home or workplace is recommended. Some other recommendations include vaginal lubricants for dryness, exercising (but not before bedtime) and avoiding alcohol or caffeine.
Sometimes, younger women may need a hysterectomy to treat health problems such as endometriosis or cancer. Because surgical menopause is instant menopause, it can cause more severe symptoms than natural menopause. A physician should be consulted to manage these symptoms.
What is premature menopause?
Menopause is called "premature" if it happens at or before the age of 40—whether it is natural or brought on by medical means. Some women have premature menopause because of family history, medical treatment (such as surgery to remove the ovaries) and cancer treatment. Having premature menopause puts a woman at more risk for osteoporosis later in her life.
What is postmenopause?
Postmenopause is the term for all the years beyond menopause. It begins after you have not had a period for 12 consecutive months—whether your menopause was natural or medically induced.