Menopause, the time at which the period stops, is a natural part of life for all women, and usually begins sometime after the age of 45. However, it can bring along some unpleasant symptoms like “hot flashes,” vaginal dryness that can impact sexual health, sleep disturbances, weight gain, and mood changes.
Luckily, there are more options than ever available to help treat menopause and its symptoms.
In some cases, prescribing hormonal birth control in the years leading up to the final period can help eliminate the most uncomfortable symptoms of menopause, and can help prevent issues like heavy or irregular periods, mood swings, and vaginal dryness. This treatment is usually discontinued after periods cease altogether.
If vaginal dryness is the primary problem associated with menopause, there are creams, rings and tablets that can be placed in the vagina to deliver estrogen, which helps encourage proper lubrication and reduce the severity of vaginal dryness.
There are a variety of vaginal moisturizing products available which can be applied to help the vagina retain moisture. Personal lubricants may also be used during intercourse to ensure proper lubrication and avoid painful sex.
Some SSRIs, such as paroxetine, were originally developed to treat depression, but are now used to treat vasomotor menopausal symptoms (VMS) such as hot flashes and night sweats, which are common in menopause.
HRT, which includes treatment with estrogen and progesterone, helps replace the hormones that are lost during menopause, and eases symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness considerably. It’s usually given before age 60, and treatment may continue for up to 5 years.
However, HRT has some risks that may disqualify you as a candidate, such as a higher risk of blood clots, an increased risk of attack or stroke, and a higher risk of breast cancer. Because of this, patients with a history of breast cancer, blood clots, liver disease, or heart disease/stroke may be disqualified from HRT.
Thanks to modern medicine, the worst symptoms of menopause are more manageable than ever. To find out which treatments may be right for you, we recommend scheduling a consultation with Women’s Medical Associates of Nashville right away.