Menopause Q & A

by Rashmi Gulati, MD

What is menopause?

Menopause occurs when you have not had your period for 12 consecutive months. The time leading up to menopause is actually called perimenopause, and it's when you begin to notice the symptoms of menopause caused by the slowing down of the production of “female” hormones estrogen and progesterone.

What are the symptoms of menopause?

Menopause can cause a wide array of symptoms, and not all women will experience every symptom. The most common symptoms include:

  • hot flashes and night sweats
  • insomnia
  • fatigue
  • mood changes and irritability
  • vaginal dryness
  • achiness
  • depression
  • irregular periods
  • abnormal menstrual bleeding, often much heavier than usual

Once you stop menstruating entirely, menopause can increase your risks for serious medical conditions like heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis, a leading cause of major bone fractures in post-menopausal women.

How is menopause treated?

Menopause is a natural occurrence, which means there is no “cure.” However, there are treatments that can help you manage your symptoms and even decrease your risks for long-term health issues like heart disease and osteoporosis. Specific symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness may be treated with cool drinks and compresses or vaginal lubricants and creams. Hormone replacement therapy using bioidentical hormones is effective in helping women manage all their symptoms, as well as reducing their long-term health risks.

What are bioidentical hormones?

Bioidentical hormones are hormone replacements that have the same chemical structure as the hormones produced by your body. That means your body “recognizes,” processes and eliminates these hormones in the same way it recognizes, processes and eliminates natural hormones, resulting in fewer side effects than traditional hormone replacement therapy that uses synthetic hormones. Bioidentical hormones help replace the progesterone and estrogen lost during menopause so you feel healthier and your body functions “normally” again.

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