Menopause affects all women. It is a significant event, a transition from fertile goddess to wise woman. The average age of menopause in the US is 52, although some are now trending it closer to 53 to 55. The definition of menopause is that ovarian hormonal production stops and a woman goes 12 months without a menstrual cycle and after that 12th month, the woman is postmenopausal or commonly referred to as “in menopause”.
The actual physical experience of menopause can be quite different than a tidy definition. As all women are different, so is each woman’s experience with the menopause transition. For some women, the change may be a subtle inconvenience that includes a few irregular periods and some mild warm flushes until the period disappears altogether and life essentially returns to normal. For other women, and more commonly so, the experience completely disrupts life as they know it. A common complaint is “I don’t know who I am anymore”. Hot flashes causing profuse sweating followed by chills can occur anywhere from a few times a day to every 15 minutes in extreme cases. Night sweats that interrupt sleep often occur along with many other symptoms such as mood changes, insomnia, feeling depressed, fatigue, headaches, foggy thinking, forgetting, body changes, skin changes, and the most startling for many, anxiety or heart palpitations.
Menopause is not a disease but a natural change in life and so one option is to do nothing and let nature take its course. This too is a very individual choice. Each woman must decide for herself which is the best option for her. When additional help is needed there are many options. In some cases, working on diet, lifestyle and adding important supplements such as omega 3 oils or vitamin D can improve the experience. Herbs such as black cohosh and many others can be used under the direction of a healthcare provider to bring relief. Hormone replacement is the most effective form of treatment and should be done at the lowest dose effective for the shortest period of time needed. Other meds can be helpful in some cases such as anti-depressants. Holistic therapies, such as, acupuncture are also effective for many symptoms of menopause, especially hot flashes.
Whatever option seems right to each individual, working with a healthcare provider who is an expert in the menopause experience is important. The providers at WomanCare welcome the chance to ease that transition in the way that fits you best. We offer a variety of options from diet and supplements, massage, medicines or hormone therapy.