Menopause is a natural process that simply means the end of menstruation. As a woman ages, there is a gradual decline in the function of her ovaries and the production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. The decline of estrogen can lead to symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and mood changes. Natural menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 to 55, and it becomes official when you have not experienced a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. Some women experience menopause at younger ages due to premature ovarian failure, cancer therapy, or surgical removal of both ovaries.
Management of Menopause
Gynecology has come a long way in recent years, giving providers and patients new and better options to manage the symptoms and health concerns of perimenopause and menopause. The menopause transition requires individualized care. At the Women’s Group of Northwestern our providers are experienced and up-to-date with the latest methods of evaluation and treatments available to help women navigate this sometimes challenging life phase. This includes management of:
Hot flashes and night sweats
Decreased sex drive
Low bone density
Pelvic support issues (prolapse)
Today, it is no longer a simple issue of hormones or not. We thoroughly review each patient’s symptoms, offer appropriate testing and discuss life style modification, various hormonal and non-hormonal treatment options.
Osteoporosis is the deterioration of the body’s bone structure making the bones more brittle and susceptible to fractures. Many women do not know they have osteoporosis until they fracture or break a bone. X-rays alone cannot diagnose osteoporosis. DEXA scans (specialized X-rays) can be used to provide precise measurements of bone density at important bone sites (spine, hip and femur) and to help determine a patient’s risk fracture. Bone mass (bone density) decreases in women after the age of 35 and decreases more rapidly in women after menopause. Some of the key risk factors for osteoporosis include genetics, lack of exercise, lack of calcium and vitamin D, cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Certain medications also put women at risk for osteoporosis.
The goal of treatment of osteoporosis is to prevent future bone fractures by reducing bone deterioration and increasing bone density and strength. Although early detection and timely treatment can decrease the risk of future fractures, none of the treatments available are complete cures. Therefore, prevention of osteoporosis is as important as treatment. Lifestyle changes such as exercising and eating healthy, stopping smoking and reducing alcohol intake can help prevent osteoporosis. We may also prescribe medications that stop bone loss and increase bone strength or medications that increase bone formation.
To learn more about care for menopause or other midlife gynecologic conditions, schedule your consultation today. We will explain your treatment options so you can make the best decision for yourself.
Below we have provided some helpful educational links for your reference:
- Menopause.org – Weight gain at midlife
- Menopause.org – Main website
- Menopause.org – Basics
- Menopause.org – FAQs: Body Changes & Symptoms
- Menopause.org – FAQs: Serious Health Issues at Menopause
- Menopause.org – FAQs: FAQs: Hormone Therapy Basics
- Menopause.org – FAQ’s: Achieving Optimal Health
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