Know how to take care of yourself during menopause.
What is menopause? Menopause is defined when a woman’s menstrual periods stop for one year and more, and this occurs because the ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone. The average age of menopause is 51, but for some women it happens as early as 40 or as late as 55. If menopause happens before age 40, it is considered early; early menopause can occur naturally or can be caused by certain medical treatments. Female hormones in post-menopausal women will not fluctuate from high to low as they used to before menopause. Instead, they stay at very low levels.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
Symptoms vary among individuals; while some women have no symptoms, some may experience changes in many areas in their lives.Irregular PeriodsThis not only happens during menopausal transition, but can also signal an underlying medical condition. Check with your healthcare provider to see if there may be another medical cause.Hot Flashes (Sudden Feeling of Heat)Try to recognize and avoid triggers. Common triggers include spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, stress, or heat. Use a fan, and dress in layers and remove when needed. Some over-the-counter products, such as soy isoflavones, evening primrose, and black cohosh may help with symptomatic relief. Hormonal therapy and prescription medications are also available for effective symptomatic relief. Ask your pharmacist to see which may be appropriate for you.Trouble Sleeping and Night SweatsManage hot flashes to decrease discomfort at night. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool. Be physically active and avoid stimulations (such as working, smoking, caffeine) before bedtime. Try to go to bed and get up around the same time every day. Over-the-counter sleep remedies such as melatonin may help with symptomatic management. Ask your pharmacist to see if it is appropriate for you. If sleep problems persist, check with a healthcare provider.Vaginal and Urinary ProblemsVaginal lubricants and moisturizers, such as KY Jelly, can help keep needed moisture.Mood ChangesTry to get enough sleep and stay physically active. Look for ways to relief stress and consider joining a support group. Talk to a healthcare provider to determine the cause of these mood changes.OsteoporosisLoss of bone density becomes faster after menopause. Ask your pharmacist to see which calcium supplement works best for you.
What Can I Do to Improve My Overall Health?
Make sure you have a balanced diet and are getting appropriate nutrition. Ask your pharmacist to see if you need to take any supplements. Each day, women over 50 need: 1.5 mg of vitamin B6 and 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 1200 mg of calcium 600 IU of vitamin D Also, ask your pharmacist about appropriate immunizations and screenings.
What are the Treatment Options?
With natural menopause, medical treatment is usually not necessary but is an option if symptoms become bothersome. If menopause is medically induced, you need to work with your healthcare providers closely to manage your condition. Menopausal hormone therapy is a common treatment for perimenopause symptoms. Talk to your pharmacist to discuss about the possible risks and benefits to help decide whether this is right for you. If you want to try herbs and alternative medicines, talk to your pharmacist to learn more about possible risks and benefits and to make sure that there are no interactions with your current medications. These products usually do not work right away and needs to be taking continuously for a prolonged period of time to see an effect.
Office on Women’s Health
The North American Menopause Society
Hormone Health Network