Menopause and Perimenopause
What is Menopause and Perimenopause?
Menopause is a natural process often called “the change of life” since it signals the end of your periods and child bearing years. It’s usually diagnosed when you have not had a period in 12 consecutive months. Most women experience menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, but it can develop before or after those ages. Perimenopause occurs before menopause when you may have irregular periods or your menstrual flow may be lighter or heavier. St. John’s Physician Partners have the expertise and treatment options that can help you prepare and weather menopause and perimenopause.
Menopause and Perimenopause Symptoms
Menopause is different for every woman. While you may have several symptoms others may not, which is why you should consult your gynocologist at St. John’s Physician Partners to discuss your symptoms and treatment options. The symptoms for menopause and perimenopause are essentially the same and may include:
- Hot flashes, often at night
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
- Depression and anxiety
- Vaginal dryness
- Reduced sex drive
- Heart palpitations
- Memory problems
- Sore or tender breasts
- Thinning hair and dry skin
You should immediately see your doctor if you experience spotting after your period, heavier menstrual flow with blood clots and bleeding after sex. This could be caused by a hormonal imbalance or fibroids, which your gynocologist can successfully treat.
Menopause and Perimenopause Diagnosis
The diagnosis of perimenopause and menopause are usually made by reviewing your medical and menstrual history, blood test to check hormonal levels and the signs and symptoms you’re experiencing. The most common symptoms are irregular and lighter or heavier periods, or the lack of consistent periods for 12 months. You know your body best and any of the symptoms of perimenopause or menopause you may be experiencing are a good reason to talk with your St. John’s Physician Partner doctor.
Menopause and Perimenopause Treatments
You may need treatment if your symptoms are acute or severely impact your quality of life. Keep in mind that there are many treatment options to help you move more comfortably as your body changes. Your gynocologist will select the ones that work best for you such as Hormone Replacement Therapy and lifestyle changes.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is the most effective treatment option for hot flashes and vaginal dryness. It can be administered by a shot, skin patch, cream or vaginally.
Lifestyle changes can significantly impact the severity and duration of menopause and perimenopause symptoms. Your doctor can recommend lifestyle changes based on your unique needs and history. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating right, meditation or exercise can go a long way toward improving your health and overall ability to ease your symptoms.
Alternative and complementary medicines, also known as nontraditional medicines, can also be used to alleviate menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms in women. These can include massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractice as well as dietary and vitamin supplements and botanicals that are medicines derived from plants. It’s important to discuss these nontraditional treatments with your St. John’s Physician Partner doctor before you use any alternative treatments.