The symptoms of perimenopause and/or menopause can hit you hard, affecting you physically and mentally. For some, these symptoms are acute and make just getting through the day difficult. Although these conditions are natural, women do not have to endure the suffering. The menopause treatment doctors at San Antonio’s Institute for Women’s Health offer specialized treatment plans for women who are either experiencing early symptoms of menopause, going through it or dealing with menopause’s after-effects.
Menopause occurs when a woman’s ovaries stop releasing eggs. Her estrogen level drops, and most of the symptoms she experiences are due to low hormone levels. These symptoms can include vaginal dryness, hot flashes, headaches, depression, body aches, mood swings and insomnia. Women may begin to experience these problems a few years before they actually stop ovulating, a period of time known as perimenopause. The period after menopause – postmenopause – offers relief of some of these symptoms but presents its own difficulties. All told, women can spend a decade or more acutely suffering from the results of low estrogen levels.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Fortunately, we can combine several safe and effective treatments to relieve the physical and emotional symptoms of menopause. Hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, raises a woman’s hormone levels and can help relieve hot flashes, vaginal dryness and other distressing problems. The treatment usually involves estrogen and/or progesterone, and sometimes testosterone.
For a period of time, the use of HRT declined due to fears it raised a woman’s chance of breast cancer. More recent studies have cast doubt on that conclusion. Physicians also strive to use low-dose treatments to help further lower any elevated risk. HRT has been credited with reducing the odds of having heart issues, enhancing muscle performance and even lowering the risk of death in postmenopausal women.
Menopause also affects a woman’s appearance. Her skin frequently ages quite quickly during menopause, turning dry and wrinkled. HRT can slow that process while treating other issues. HRT is considered particularly appropriate for women in their 50s. Those with certain medical conditions, such as breast cancer, will not be candidates for HRT. Menopause treatment in San Antonio offers other options that can work for those who can’t use HRT.
Vaginal Estrogen Cream
For some women, vaginal estrogen cream is a better choice than HRT, especially if they suffer from atrophic vaginitis, a thinning of the vaginal walls and cells in the urethra. This condition causes dryness, itching and, frequently, urinary infections. The most troublesome symptom may be painful intercourse that is sometimes accompanied by bleeding. Since women suffer from lower libido during menopause, the addition of atrophic vaginitis can effectively wreck their sexual lives.
Vaginal estrogen cream can solve this problem by restoring the atrophying cells, eliminating or greatly reducing dryness and pain. This targeted treatment uses a relatively low dose of estrogen, so it is safe as well as effective. Women who cannot safely use any form of estrogen can try OTC lubricants to fight vaginal dryness.
Women can lessen their perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms by making lifestyle changes in addition to seeking medical treatment. For instance, women with hot flashes should avoid certain substances including caffeine, alcohol, spicy food and hot beverages in general.
Once women reach menopause, they have a higher risk of heart problems and osteoporosis. Women can reduce these risks by eating a low-fat, low-salt diet. They should also focus on consuming vegetables, fruits, whole grains and oily fish such as salmon. Maintaining a healthy weight is also important.
The right levels of calcium and vitamin D are essential for women both during and after menopause. Many women may need to take a calcium supplement to get enough of this important mineral. Vitamin D can be absorbed through certain foods and also through a supplement. Before taking these supplements, women should check with our menopause doctors in San Antonio to make sure they are taking the right products.
Everyone needs to exercise, but women in this stage of life should get a minimum of 30 minutes each day. An hour is an even better goal. Since bones do weaken after menopause, weight-bearing exercises are especially helpful because they can improve bone density. Walking, jogging and weightlifting are all good forms of exercise. A woman’s fitness routine doesn’t have to be drastic – a moderate yet consistent workout will improve her health.
Although most women experience menopause in their 50s, some women go into early menopause due to medical conditions, medications or a hysterectomy. Some women just naturally experience this “change of life” when they are in their 40s or even 30s. When a woman’s estrogen level drops, she will most likely experience at least some symptoms. Instead of suffering through these changes, she should consult with the doctors at the Institute for Women’s Health. They can offer a treatment or combination of treatments to keep her active and feeling well. Lifestyle changes, HRT or estrogen creams can be the answer to many of these issues.
Remember, menopause does not have to be the end of a woman’s best years. Instead, it can signal a new and exciting phase in an already satisfying life.