As women age, they inevitably enter a period of life known as menopause. Once this transition begins, many women seek out management and treatment options, as their symptoms can be incredibly uncomfortable. Once this process begins, the treatment of menopausal symptoms will heavily depend on each individual woman's experience.
That’s where we come in. Somerset Gynecology & Obstetrics is committed to a personalized health experience for every patient. Our practice offers a full team of physicians working together to prioritize every individual we meet. Our team, our services, and our tools combine to create a diverse and well-rounded work environment - with you and your health at the central focus of it all! To discuss your care options, just schedule an appointment online or call us at (248) 816-9200.
"Menopause" refers to a shift in a woman's biology where she experiences a natural decline in the reproductive hormones produced by the ovaries. The change in hormones stops ovulation entirely (and affect the body’s existing balance of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone). The transition occurs when a woman reaches her 40s or 50s and is officially diagnosed after a woman goes 12 months without a menstrual period.
Any change in hormones can lead to various symptoms. With that in mind, the physical symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, weight gain (due to slowing metabolism), irregular periods, vaginal dryness, more frequent urination and/or urinary tract infections, chills, night sweats, and changes in sleep and mood alike. Menopause also brings on a series of emotional changes, as declining estrogen levels can create PMS-like symptoms. These include irritability, sadness, anxiety, and general disinterest in work or tasks. Memory loss, problems focusing, and fatigue are also commonly reported symptoms of menopause.
Menopause cannot be prevented or avoided. However, there are some options to patients that can make the process more comfortable.
Hormone therapy is the most common type of treatment. Estrogen therapy in particular is considered effective in the medical community. (Patients who have not had a hysterectomy, i.e. still have a uterus, will need progestin in addition to estrogen, as taking estrogen alone can increase a patient’s risk of cancer.) Long-term use of hormone therapy may have some cardiovascular and breast cancer risks, so speaking to a doctor about your care options and making an informed decision with their help is essential. Hormone therapy can be taken in the form of pills, skin patches, gels, or sprays. Treatment ultimately helps provide women relief from hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
Some low-dose antidepressants can also help decrease menopausal hot flashes (as well as assist with menopause-related moodiness).
As with any treatment, hormone therapy does carry some risks. Therapy is associated with a small increased risk of heart attack, breast cancer, and gallbladder disease. Patients should always discuss the pros and cons of hormone therapy with their doctor, particularly since this allows them to evaluate their own medical history and any risks hormone therapy may create due to this history.
Somerset offers traditional hormone replacement therapy, as well as bioidentical hormone treatments.
The Endocrine Society defines bioidentical hormones as "compounds that have exactly the same chemical and molecular structure as hormones that are produced in the human body." Bioidentical hormone therapy is often called "natural hormone therapy" because bioidentical hormones act in the body just like the hormones we produce. While more research is needed to investigate the specific differences between bioidentical and synthetic hormone treatments, many women feel more comfortable using bioidentical hormone treatments.
Our practice also offers osteoporosis prevention care, which is a very important part of menopause management. After the age of 35, both men and women experience a small amount of bone loss. Following menopause, however, women begin losing bone mass at a faster rate than men, due to decreased levels of estrogen. High amounts of bone loss increases the risk of osteoporosis - a condition in which bones become weak and brittle.
Because menopause impacts a woman's hormone levels and body overall, long-term healthy living adjustments are needed to compensate for the changes caused by a menopausal transition. This includes eating a healthy diet (with enough calcium and Vitamin D to support bone health), getting plenty of exercise (and enjoying a mixture of cardio, strength training, and balance training), and regularly visiting with doctors for routine exams (i.e. dental check-ups, eye exams, wellness physicals, and cancer screenings).
The #1 type of care that menopause patients need is regular preventative care (before and after menopause). Regular wellness exams will ensure that patients receive annual exams, as well as referrals for specialized screenings. This may include:
In addition to preventative care and screenings, menopause patients should contact a doctor any time their symptoms interfere with their normal functions and routines. After menopause is complete, a woman should always seek medical advice for any vaginal bleeding.
Somerset Gynecology and Obstetrics is committed to providing every woman with the reproductive care she needs to age in a healthy manner. Contact us today to book your next appointment!