Menopause

“I’m not myself anymore…”

What is Menopause?

The start of the reproductive cycle in a woman is called menarche. It is when the eggs in her ovaries make estrogen and progesterone and begin to ovulate leading to regular periods. This happens in the teen years. After menarche, hormone levels can fluctuate for months, even years before regular periods are established. The reproductive cycle ends when the remaining eggs cannot make enough of these hormones so ovulation does not occur and periods stop. This is usually around the age of 50, which is called menopause.

What is Perimenopause?

Prior to menopause the same fluctuating hormone levels that occurred during the teen years happen again, periods become irregular and women begin to experience menopausal symptoms, which is called perimenopause. Generally these symptoms begin in the late 40’s however some women will start having symptoms in their 30’s. During this time, menopausal symptoms, such as those listed below, can have significant negative effects on a woman’s quality of life.

“One minute I’m in control and the next minute, I feel completely crazy.”

What are the Symptoms of Perimenopause and Menopause

  • Irregular Bleeding
  • Hot flashes
  • Night Sweats
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Vaginal dryness and/or painful intercourse 
  • Increased frequency and urgency of urination
  • Mood Swings, irritability and/or crying at the drop of a hat
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Slowed metabolism leading to the inability to lose weight or weight gain
  • Thinning hair
  • Dry skin

Treatments For Menopause

When exploring treatments for menopausal symptoms, its important to understand the history and research of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) leading to where we are today. Women were first given estrogen for menopausal symptoms in 1943 in the form of Premarin, a product containing several estrogen compounds made from pregnant horse urine. They were generally given estrogen for their symptoms until a study in 1975 showed, when given only estrogen, they had an increased risk of uterine cancer. Since then, women are given only estrogen if they have had a hysterectomy. Women who still have their uterus receive estrogen and progesterone or a synthetic progestin. The progesterone protects them from the effects of estrogen in the uterus and significantly lessens the risk of uterine cancer.

In 2002 the Women’s Health Initiative Study (WHI) indicated a possible increased risk of heart disease and breast cancer in women taking estrogen and progestin in the form of Prempro. Many women stopped HRT, or are reluctant to start HRT because of the press surrounding the WHI study. Since that time there has been significant controversy about the study and the validity of the results have been called into question. The physicians at Women’s Health Wise feel it’s important to discuss this research and take an individualized approach to your treatment of menopausal symptoms.

“I believe every woman should hear all of the information available, explore treatment options and make an educated decision about what’s best for her and not a decision based on fear or misinformation.” – Dr. Kim Lane 

Hormone Replacement Therapy – Systemic Treatments

Systemic treatments are aimed at relieving all of the menopausal symptoms listed above.

Systemic treatments can be estrogen or estrogen/progesterone combinations including pills, patches, creams or pellets that may be bio-identical or non-bio-identical. Both bio-identical and non-bio-identical treatments can be compounded by a pharmacy or produced by a pharmaceutical company. 

Hormone Replacement Therapy – Localized Treatments

Localized treatments are aimed at relieving symptoms such as:

  • Vaginal dryness and/or painful intercourse
  • Increased frequency and urgency of urination

Localized treatments can be estrogen creams, suppositories, rings or pills applied to the vulva or inserted into the vagina. As with systemic treatments both bio-identical and non-bio-identical treatments can be compounded by a pharmacy or produced by a pharmaceutical company. 

MonaLisa Touch Laser Treatment

Treatment for painful intercourse and irritation in menopauseThe MonaLisa Touch laser can also be used to treat vaginal dryness and discomfort. It’s a CO2 laser that stimulates collagen, elastin and neovascularization which recreates the thicker tissue seen before menopause. Patients experience significant improvement in dryness, pain, itching, painful urination and painful intercourse.

It can be used as a localized treatment, and it can also be incorporated into a treatment plan for all of your menopausal symptoms. 

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 29 and went through surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. Once I started tamoxifen I began experiencing vaginal dryness and atrophy leading to painful intercourse… This treatment is life changing… After that first treatment, I had results almost immediately. I would say, Go for this, because this will fix it!” – Lisa, March 2015

Learn more about the MonaLisa Touch Laser!

Non-Hormonal Treatments

Non-hormonal treatments are aimed relieving symptoms such as:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night Sweats
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Vaginal dryness and/or painful intercourse
  • Increased frequency and urgency of urination
  • Mood Swings, irritability and/or crying at the drop of a hat
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Slowed metabolism leading to the inability to lose weight or weight gain
  • Thinning hair
  • Dry skin

Non-hormonal treatments can be antidepressants (some can relieve hot flashes), sleep medications (prescription or over-the-counter), lubricants, medications for urinary symptoms, supplements such as black cohosh.

Lifestyle Treatments

Lifestyle treatments can help decrease most menopausal symptoms. These include:

  • Healthy Diet – Eliminate diet related triggers such as caffeine and red wine
  • Regular Exercise
  • Stress Relieving Activities
  • Good Sleep Habits

Menopausal symptoms can be annoying for some women, but in others it can seriously effect the quality of their lives. The physicians at Women’s Health Wise encourage all women to explore the treatment options most appropriate for their symptoms.

“You don’t have to suffer any longer, help is available!”