About AOA

The joys of motherhood are never fully experienced until all the children are in bed.
- Unknown

 

Managing Your Menopause Symptoms

Managing Your Menopause SymptomsDepending on the severity of your symptoms, your medical history and overall health,  managing your symptoms can include hormone therapy, medication, and/or lifestyle changes. You should consult with your AOA doctor, who can assess what stage you are at in the menopause transition and help you understand the benefits and risks of different treatments as they relate to you in particular.
 
Hormone Therapy
Several major studies have questioned the health benefits and risks of hormone replacement therapy, including the risk of developing breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots.
 
Current guidelines support the use of HT for the treatment of hot flashes. Specific recommendations:
  • HT may be started in women who have recently entered menopause.
  • HT should not be used in women who started menopause many years ago. An exception is estrogen vaginal creams.
  • The medicine should not be used for longer than 5 years.
  • Women taking HT should have a baseline low risk for stroke, heart disease, blood clots, or breast cancer.
 
To reduce the risks of estrogen therapy and still gain the benefits of the treatment, your doctor may recommend:
  • Using a lower dose of estrogen or a different estrogen preparation (for instance, a vaginal cream rather than a pill)
  • Having frequent and regular pelvic exams and Pap smears to detect problems as early as possible
  • Having frequent and regular physical exams, including breast exams and mammograms
Medication Alternatives to Hormone Therapy
There are some medications available to help with mood swings, hot flashes, and other symptoms. These include low doses of antidepressants or clonidine, which is normally used to control high blood pressure. Gabapentin is also effective for reducing hot flashes.
 
Lifestyle Tips for Reducing Your Menopausal Symptoms
The good news is that you can take many steps to reduce your menopausal symptoms without taking hormones:
  • Control your blood pressure, cholesterol, and other risk factors for heart disease.
  • Do NOT smoke. Cigarette use can cause early menopause.
  • Eat a low-fat diet.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods
  • Dress lightly and in layers
  • Eat soy foods
  • Get adequate calcium and vitamin D in food or supplements
  • Get plenty of exercise
  • Perform Kegel exercises daily to strengthen the muscles of your vagina and pelvis. A Kegel exercise is like pretending that you have to urinate, and then holding it. You relax and tighten the muscles that control urine flow.
  • Practice slow, deep breathing whenever a hot flash starts to come on (try taking six breaths per minute)
  • Remain sexually active
  • See an acupuncture specialist
  • Try relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi, or meditation
  • Use water-based lubricants during sexual intercourse
  • If you show early signs of bone loss or have a strong family history of osteoporosis, talk with your AOA doctor about medications that can help stop further weakening.