Managing Menopause—Treatment and Therapy

July 16, 2023
Lisa P. Otey, MD

Menopause Treatment

In the past, menopause was an issue that was rarely discussed.  Many women approached this period in the life with uncertainty and even fear. Now, there are a wide variety of resources that you can look up to know more about menopause treatment. This has helped many women by helping them know what to expect and giving them tips and tricks on how to deal with this difficult period in life. A Houston Gynecologist can help you with understanding menopause symptoms and menopause treatment.

What is Menopause?

Clinically defined, menopause is the absence of menstrual periods for more than 1 year. Beginning in the mid-40s, many women start to experience little changes in their bodies and even with their emotions. This period, called perimenopause, signals the beginning of the decline of your hormone levels. It is because of this decreased hormone levels that many symptoms of menopause are attributed to.

Perimenopausal women experience a wide variety of symptoms, and no two women experience them the same way. Some women might find it quite easy to cope up with this period, but many find it otherwise. Some of the symptoms that women may experience during this time are:

  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal changes
  • Urinary changes
  • Decrease in bone mass
  • Increased risk of acquiring cardiovascular diseases

What’s a menopause treatment I can use at home?

As mentioned earlier, women experience menopausal symptoms differently so the menopause treatment will vary. But being prepared and knowing what to do to deal with these changes can give you a higher chance of coping up with menopause quite effectively.

Hot Flashes

Hot flashes are experienced as an unexpected heat rising up to your upper body and face. There are some steps you can take to manage these hot flashes. Here are a few tips so you can feel more comfortable:

  • Try to discover what triggers your hot flashes, and avoid them if possible. Some types of foods may worsen hot flashes, such as coffee or tea, spicy foods, or alcoholic beverages.
  • Wear layers of clothing. Once you start to feel warm, you can gradually remove layer by layer so you can feel cooler.
  • Bring a handy fan. There are some types that are small enough to fit in your purse.
  • Get regular exercise. Research studies have linked physical exercise to fewer and less severe hot flashes.

Vaginal Changes

Due to decreasing levels of estrogen, many women experience vaginal dryness. The vagina gradually gets thinner and less elastic with age. This sometimes causes sex to be painful. To remedy this, you can purchase vaginal lubricants. They are sold over-the-counter. You can also try working it out with your partner. Spend more time on foreplay, and speak openly with him so he knows how you’re feeling. Having sex regularly may also help. Sex enhances the blood flow to the genital area, and can help avoid some premature changes from occurring.

Urinary Changes

Estrogen plays a role in strengthening the tissues that give support to your urinary tract. Once levels of this hormone decrease, you might experience more frequent urinations. Additionally, you may become more at risk for urinary tract infections. You can avoid this by always sipping on water, even if you’re not feeling thirsty as yet.

Decrease in Bone Mass

Estrogen is also considered a bone protectant. With menopause, when estrogen levels decline, this protection is lost. This causes much bone mass to be lost. Medically, this is called osteoporosis. Bones become weaker when they’re not as dense, so many perimenopausal women are more susceptible to fractures.

This can be prevented by acquiring as much calcium during pre-menopausal years. It is recommended that women consume around 1 gram of calcium a day. Aside from increased calcium intake, it is also important to get vitamin D as well to help calcium get absorbed into your system. Exercise also helps build bone mass. Like muscles, bones get stronger with exercise, when they’re subjected to weight.

Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases

Many middle-aged individuals are at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. At this point in life, risk factors for heart diseases are very common, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, being overweight, and leading an inactive lifestyle. Moreover, perimenopausal women lose the protection that estrogen offers to the heart and blood vessels, so these women are more at risk as ever.

Cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack and stroke, can be prevented by exercising regularly. Aerobic exercises strengthen the heart and lungs, and lower the risk of acquiring heart diseases. There are a wide range of activities that can be done, like brisk walking, swimming, or running.

Hormone Therapy

Because estrogen and progesterone levels decrease during menopause, women can take supplemental hormones to help cope up with the changes associated with this period. This means taking estrogen for all women and additional taking progestin if you still have your uterus. There is a risk of developing cancer when taking estrogen alone which is why progestin is used. These hormones can relieve hot flashes, vaginal dryness, rapid bone loss and sleep problems. There are risks associated with hormonal therapy and these should be discussed with your Houston Gynecologist prior to starting therapy.

Non-hormonal menopause treatment

Some women can benefit from specific antidepressants for the relief of depressive symptoms as well as hot flashes. Bioidentical hormones are plant derived hormones that are mixed by a pharmacist. They carry similar risks as drugs typically prescribed by a doctor. There is not much evidence to support their use as being any safer or any more effective than standard hormonal therapy.

Final Thoughts….

Because the symptoms of menopause are so varied and common, many forms of treatment are available. Some treatments are well studied while others are not. Please consult your Houston Gynecologist before starting any therapy since there may be more effective treatments available for you.

For a review of menopause, please see the article “Menopause-What To Expect“.

Contact us by phone or web to make a same day appointment to discuss your specific needs. We’re always happy to hear from you!