Hot flashes and irregular periods may be the first signs that you are starting menopause. The team at Trade Winds Family Medicine in Kailua can help you navigate through these new changes to your body. For some women, it helps to know what to expect, but they don’t desire treatment intervention. Other women want to proactively reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. Trade Winds can help you navigate this time of your life. For more information, book an appointment with Trade Winds Family Medicine.
Menopause Question & Answer
Menopause is when your menstrual cycles, as well as your fertility, stops. It is a natural process that women are designed to go through, and results when your ovaries stop producing as much estrogen. While some women go through early menopause in their 40s — a select few in their 20s and 30s — the average age for a woman in the United States to start menopause is 51 +/- 5 years.
You may experience some symptoms of menopause before your periods stop. This is referred to as perimenopause.
Once you have stopped having periods for 12 months or more, you are officially menopausal, however symptoms may persist.
Some women make it through menopause with very few disruptive changes. However, some degree of symptoms are common and include:
- Hot flashes
- Sleep disruptions and poor sleep quality
- Weight gain
- Bone loss
- Mood changes
- Irregular periods
- Vaginal dryness
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Low libido
Most women who experience symptoms will have a gradual lessening of the effects of menopause for about four years after their last period.
Many women do not experience a decrease in quality of life due to perimenopause or menopause. However, some women experience symptoms that disrupt the emotional, physical, or mental rhythms of your life. If this describes you, then please see your health care professional.
Talk to your health care provider if you are experiencing changes in your menstrual cycle, including:
- Any vaginal bleeding after completing menopause (12 months w/o a period)
- Bleeding that is frequent, <21 days from the start of one period to the start of the next
- Very heavy bleeding during your period
- Prolonged bleeding, >8 days
These may be signs of common conditions such as uterine fibroids or a thyroid condition, however can rarely be a sign of cancer. They will require further testing which could include an ultrasound and/or a biopsy of the uterine lining. The providers at Trade Winds Family Medicine can perform this biopsy if necessary, and can coordinate for any recommended imaging procedures.
While you can’t stop menopause from coming, there are plenty of ways to alleviate some of the symptoms of this transition.
Women with mild symptoms that do not interfere with usual activities usually do not need medication. Instead, simple behavioral measures, can help to reduce symptoms enough to more comfortably get through the menopausal transition.
Although evidence is lacking, some women report symptom reduction with certain vitamins and/or herbal supplements.
Because menopause is caused by low levels of estrogen, boosting your body’s estrogen levels through hormone therapy can help relieve:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness or atrophy
- Osteoporosis and bone loss
- Night sweats
Medications such as anti-depressants (SSRIs/SNRIs) or gabapentin can be helpful for hot flash reduction.
Before choosing a prescription treatment plan, it’s important to talk to your provider to explore which therapy is right for you.
Call Trade Winds Family Medicine at (808) 263-7383 to book an appointment or to learn more about our services.