If you think you’re beginning to experience menopausal symptoms it’s quite likely you’ll want to discuss these symptoms with your doctor. Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life, and though not all women require treatment to manage their symptoms, many do. If you do experience moderate to severe symptoms there are some therapies that have been proven to be effective. Ask your doctor about treatment options that may work for your particular symptoms.
Before you discuss your symptoms and potential treatments with your doctor, make a list of questions to ask during your appointment. If your doctor isn’t current on the latest treatments for menopause, you may need a referral or a second opinion. If you have any concerns about potential harmful side effects for any type of therapy, it is critical to consult your physician first before going ahead with a treatment plan. It is important that your treatment be designed for your individual symptoms and needs.
Menopausal Hormone Therapy
Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) has been proven to be the most effective for treating symptoms of menopause. Nonetheless, it is not effective for every woman, and some studies have shown serious risk factors which are important to take into consideration. You can discuss these possible side effects with your doctor in order to make a well-informed decision about whether or not the benefits outweigh the risks.
Menopausal hormone therapy (previously called hormone replacement therapy) involves receiving estrogen and progesterone (or just estrogen) either systemically or locally. Although research has shown it to be effective in the reduction of moderate to severe menopausal symptoms, it does have some potentially serious side effects to make note of and discuss with your physician. Some health conditions may put you at high risk for serious medical issues. Your doctor will want to discuss your medical history and help you decide if it’s the right treatment for you. Other factors to consider are your age and what stage of menopause you are in (i.e. hormone therapy can be quite beneficial for those experiencing early menopause). Early menopause can put you at a higher risk for osteoporosis, coronary heart disease, dementia, anxiety, and depression, and some studies indicate that MHT can help reduce those risk factors.
Risks with Menopausal Hormone Therapy
In the past, menopausal hormone therapy was prescribed quite frequently for menopausal symptoms due to its efficacy; however, it is currently not recommended as often because of the risk factors. According to some research, MHT can put you at a higher risk for blood clots, breast cancer, gall bladder disease, heart attack, and stroke. Nonetheless, other research has also shown that the risk factors are decreased depending on how old you are when you decide to start MHT. The younger you are, the lower the risks and the greater the benefits. There is a lot of contradictory information, so be sure to inform yourself and to discuss all treatment avenues with your doctor.
Oral Contraception or Birth Control Pills
Oral contraception is frequently prescribed to women who are in perimenopause and are having irregular periods. Birth control pills are used to regulate menstrual periods and will often also provide relief from hot flashes. There are a number of different types of birth control on the market, but if you have past experience with a certain type or brand it may be worth going back to that one to avoid any potential issues.
If not, you can always ask your doctor for a recommendation. It’s wise to start on a pill that has a low estrogen dose and work your way upwards to avoid the possibility of side effects. Also, you should know that modern oral contraceptives typically include both an estrogen and a progesterone component, and that there are risks involved with using these once you are in menopause. This is a discussion to have with a physician and not one that we will start in this blog post.
Vaginal Treatments and Creams
Low-dose estrogen creams or tablets are sometimes used to treat vaginal symptoms (such as dryness) due to menopause.
If you’re not experiencing too many hot flashes or other symptoms of menopause and just want to deal with vaginal dryness and irritationm, over the counter lubricants (i.e. K-Y vaginal moisturizers) can be used to ease these symptoms. It’s completely possible to have a very active sex life even after menopause, and lubricants will help to deal with vaginal changes that occur once your natural hormone levels start to drop.
Antidepressants can be effective for treating not only symptoms of depression, but also for the treatment of hot flashes. There are possible side effects associated with the use of anti-depressants, however, such as sexual dysfunction and many others that will need to be discussed with your physician. Unless you are experiencing severe symptoms, it might be worth skipping this option and going with one of those listed above to help you deal with menopause. Antidepressants are powerful drugs that change the brain’s chemistry, so approach with caution.
Other Prescription Medications
Other medications used to treat epilepsy and high blood pressure have proven to be effective for relieving hot flashes and other symptoms as well. Again, as with any medication, these also come with their share of side effects, so be sure to discuss these with your doctor.
Other alternative therapies, such as plant estrogens, vitamin E, black cohosh, and other herbal remedies have been reported to be effective in relieving menopausal symptoms, but none of these therapies have sound research to support their claims.
It is important to remember that no single treatment will work for every woman. Discuss all your symptoms and possible therapies with your doctor. You may have to try a few different options before you find something that’s going to work for you. Staying informed and communicating with your physician will certainly give you a leg up in your search to find the most effective menopause treatment for you.
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This is a guest post by Jenny from kuhlcare.com – home of the top natural menopause therapy. If you are also interested to write for HealthResource4u, Please check our guest posting guidelines at write for us.