For many women, menopause, the phase of life when a woman’s menstrual periods stop, can be a challenging time. Additionally, the years leading up to this point, called perimenopause, can also pose difficulties.
During these years, many women experience unpleasant or uncomfortable menopause symptoms such as
- Irregular periods
- Hot flashes
- Insomnia and night sweats
- Vaginal and urinary issues
- Psychological symptoms such as anxiety or depression.
Your gynecologist will consult with you about your unique symptoms and lifestyle before recommending management options that can help relieve your signs and symptoms.
Often your symptoms will be managed in more than one way, such as prescribing a hormonal or non-hormonal medication, recommending dietary changes and possibly recommending psychological care. Below are descriptions of the variety of medications and resources that are available to help you feel better.
Hormonal Treatment Options
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Estrogen therapy is the most effective treatment option for relieving hot flashes and it also helps prevent bone loss.
- Vaginal Estrogen: To relieve vaginal dryness, your gynecologist can prescribe an estrogen cream, ring or tablet that can be administered directly to your vagina. This can help reduce dryness and discomfort.
Note: Taking estrogen without progesterone can increase your risk of cancer. There are also HRT side effects such as breast tenderness, nausea and vaginal bleeding. Your gynecologist will discuss these and other risks and possible side effects with you prior to prescribing you any hormonal treatments.
Non-Hormonal Treatment Options
- Gabapentin is a drug your gynecologist may recommend. It is used to treat seizures, but it can help reduce hot flashes.
- Certain low-dose antidepressants may also decrease your hot flashes and night sweats as well as help with mood issues
- Depending on your unique circumstances, your gynecologist may recommend a medication to help reduce bone loss
Natural Remedy Options
Non-prescription natural remediescan helps some women. Soy foods such as tofu, tempeh, soy milk and soy nuts can also help reduce menopause symptoms. Herbs such as black cohosh, wild yam, dong quai and valerian root may also help reduce hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.
Other Tips to Manage Menopause
- Actively look for new ways to reduce your stress: for example, consider taking up yoga or schedule regular massages
- Identify and avoid your hot flash triggers. Common ones include spicy foods, alcohol and hot baths.
- Increase your physical activity, not just exercise, but incorporate activity into your day such as taking the stairs.
- Establish and maintain a regular sleep schedule, with a consistent bedtime and rising times
- Keep electronic devices and TVs out of your bedroom and only use them for sleep and sexual activity
- Keep a frozen cold pack under your pillow to help relieve a hot flash if you get one at night
- Eat a healthy diet that includes vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, fish, low-fat dairy food, proteins and whole grains