Tips for Managing Menopause

Thursday, Jun 18, 2015
Managing Menopause

Women don't have to struggle through menopause by suffering troublesome symptoms. There are several different approaches to managing menopause available to women today.

Menopause is a normal part of life, just like puberty. Women may notice changes in their body before and after menopause. "The change" usually has three parts: perimenopause (before menopause when changes usually begin), menopause (end of menstrual periods), and postmenopause (after a year without a menstrual period).

The average age of a woman having her last period, menopause, is 51. But, some women have their last period in their forties, and some have it later in their fifties.

Eileen Engle, MD, a gynecologist on staff at Doylestown Hospital, shares guidance about finding relief from the most common symptoms. "One of the most common symptoms is hot flashes or night sweats," said Dr. Engle.

Tips to Ease Hot Flashes and/or Night Sweats

  • Sleep in a cool room.
  • Avoid alcohol (particularly red wine), spicy foods and hot beverages.
  • Dress in layers, which can be removed at the start of a hot flash.
  • Have a drink of cold water or juice when you feel a hot flash coming on.
  • Use sheets and clothing that let your skin "breathe."
  • Try the Chillow® Cooling Pillow to keep your head and neck cool for relief from night sweats.
  • Eat a balanced diet and be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Try some deep-breathing exercises.
  • Eat soy in the form of tofu, soy protein powder, soymilk and canned soy beans, it may provide some relief from hot flashes, though there is no definitive proof.
  • Talk to your doctor. Symptoms that might seem like menopause, even hot flashes, night sweats, and irregular periods, may have other causes.

"There is an FDA-approved non-hormonal medication for symptoms that are disruptive or particularly troublesome," notes Dr. Engle. "Brisdelle is low-dose paroxetine that may be prescribed for relief from hot flashes."

Some women take menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), which can be effective in treating hot flashes and night sweats. Talk to your doctor, as MHT is not recommended for all women.

"Hormone therapy may be recommended as short-term treatment for about three to five years," said Dr. Engle.

Other Common Symptoms of Menopause

"Almost everyone experiences vaginal dryness," said Dr. Engle. "There are local vaginal estrogens available to combat that problem. They include vaginal creams, tablets and a ring."

Other menopause symptoms may include mood swings, mild depression, minor memory lapse, stress and headaches.

Lifestyle changes can help a woman make it through menopause. "Get plenty of exercise. It improves quality of life and may also help with osteoporosis," said Dr. Engle.

Many women turn to nature to help manage menopause. There is little evidence these natural remedies are helpful, but some women feel relief from symptoms when using them. Studies are being done to learn about the benefits and risks. Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use.

Complementary or Alternative treatments include

  • Herbs and plants such as black cohosh and ginseng

    Note: some of these herbal supplements can have serious side effects. Check with your doctor before using any herbal supplements.

  • Mind and body practices such as acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, and qi gong may help reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms.
  • "Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy" or "BHRT" is a marketing term used to describe medications that are prepared in specialized pharmacies and may contain any variation of hormones including estrone, estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone. They are not approved by the U.S. Food and DrugAdministration.

For more information, Dr. Engle recommends visiting the North American Menopause Society at menopause.org.

Gynecology At Doylestown Hospital

This collaborative program between the Hospital and its affiliated Gynecology physicians and certified nurse midwives offers care throughout all stages of a woman's life, from adolescence through menopause and older adulthood.

Gynecologists and certified nurse midwives affiliated with Doylestown Hospital provide programs focusing on routine preventive care, including Pap tests, breast exams, mammography, contraceptive counseling and other gynecologic screenings.

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