All About Menopause – What you Need to Know
Although many women look forward to the days of having no more periods, they may find themselves struggling with menopausal symptoms as they move through the change of life. More than half of all women in the United States experience some troubling symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot fl ashes, night sweats or vaginal dryness. The good news is that women have more options than ever for treatment. Hot flashes associated with menopause usually last 1-5 minutes and can cause sweating, skin flushing, chills, clamminess, anxiety and fast heart rate. The flush is usually worse in the upper body such as neck, face, and chest.
Simple behavioral modifications can ease the effects of hot flashes for some. Certain things may trigger hot fl ashes for some women, such as hot tea hot tea, or coffee, spicy food, alcohol or warm rooms. These triggers can be avoided or modified, such as keeping your bedroom cool, using light blankets and fans.
If the symptoms are bothersome, especially if they are keeping you up at night or preventing good rest, there are safe and effective therapies available. Many women can still safely take low dose estrogen therapy for limited amounts of time. Women who still have their uterus are also given progesterone to reduce the risk of estrogen therapy. However, some women are still reluctant to take hormones or have medical problems that make them too risky.
In recent years, several non-hormonal options have been shown to be effective with few side effects. Several SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), generally prescribed for depression and anxiety, have also been found to help with hot flashes. One SSRI, Paroxetine, has been approved by the FDA for treatment of hot flashes.
Many women try over-the-counter herbal remedies with good results, but the scientific evidence for their use is not very strong. Other non-hormonal treatments include regular exercise, vitamins, and even acupuncture. There is not much scientific evidence for these treatments, but they have added benefits such as stress reduction, which is important for women trying to reduce their risk of heart disease.
Although the change of life is a natural phase of life, women who experience symptoms that limit their ability to enjoy this time in their life should definitely talk to their doctor. Dr. Vickie Mello, DO, is a board certified OB/GYN with the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor and completed her medical school training at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her internship at Genesys Health Park and her OB/GYN Residency at Hurley Medical Center. Dr. Mello is currently the Associate Program Director of the Residency Program at Hurley. She supervises resident physicians in training at Hurley Medical Center, and sees private gynecology patients at the Hurley Mid-Michigan Midwifery office in Lapeer.