While menopause is a natural progression in a woman’s life, those who suffer severely from its symptoms may feel anything but natural. The effects of lower levels of estrogen may wreak havoc upon many of your body’s systems. The physicians of Memphis Obstetrics & Gynecological Association, PC, with locations in Memphis, Germantown, and Bartlett, Tennessee, as well as Southaven, Mississippi, can help you find the right balance of hormone replacement to neutralize the worst of these transitional effects. Call the office or book an appointment online today.
Officially marked as the point 12 months after your last menstrual period, menopause marks the end of a woman’s childbearing years. While the process starts with a condition called perimenopause, typically in a woman’s 40s, the average age of menopause in the United States is 51.
The menopause process is a natural response to decreased ovary function and lower levels of estrogen in your body. Every woman has a unique reaction to these hormonal changes. Some women can experience very few symptoms while others may find their symptoms quite disruptive.
Menopause may also be induced artificially, through hysterectomy or due to the effects of radiation and chemotherapy for cancer treatments. A rare condition called primary ovarian insufficiency affects about one percent of women under the age of 40, resulting in premature menopause.
The symptoms of menopause often begin before your ovaries fully lose function, the perimenopausal period. During this time, you will likely experience irregular menstrual periods of shorter cycles, skipped months, and perhaps changes to your normal menstrual flow. Despite these changes, you may remain fertile until periods stop altogether.
Other symptoms of menopause begin during perimenopause. These may include:
Since menopause is a biological function rather than a disease or disorder, only its symptoms are treated. Ovary function can’t be restored once it ends. While there are several classes of medication that can ease some symptoms of menopause, the most effective treatment remains hormone replacement therapy.
Particularly effective when treating extreme cases of menopausal hot flashes, hormone therapy finds a level of supplemental estrogen that reduces your hot flash symptoms. There are some risks of breast cancer and cardiovascular complications associated with long-term hormone therapy, however the benefits outweigh the risks for many women. This is a discussion point for you and your MOGA physician.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy shows some promise by using estrogen that’s chemically identical to the molecules produced by your body. Though research is ongoing, this chemical match may reduce the risks of side effects with long-term hormone replacement.