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Menopause - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

There comes a time in every woman’s life when menstrual periods stop. This challenging time is when menopause starts. This phase of life, and the years leading up to it, perimenopause, can also pose difficulties and be unpleasant if not managed properly.

Listen to your body, and make note of the changes to discuss with your gynecologist. Some of these unpleasant and/or uncomfortable symptoms may be:

  • Irregular periods
  • Hot flashes
  • Insomnia and night sweats
  • Vaginal and urinary issues
  • Psychological symptoms such as anxiety or depression

Be specific when visiting your gynecologist, as everyone has their own unique symptoms and lifestyle. Sharing your specific issues will enable your doctor to make the proper recommendations to help relieve these signs and symptoms.

There are often a few ways to manage menopause until finding the appropriate solution for each individual. What works for one, may not necessarily work for another. Some may be prescribed hormonal or non-hormonal medications in addition to dietary change recommendations.

Some medications, remedies, and resources available to help during the menopause process:

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.

*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

  • Reduce stress: 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
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