What is it?
Menopause is the time in a woman's life after her menstrual cycle has ceased due to changes in hormone levels. It is an inevitable occurrence for any woman who gets her period. It may pass almost unnoticed except for the absence of periods, but frequently it is heralded by symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, headaches, fatigue and weight gain.
How do I know if it has occurred yet?
A woman generally older than 40-45 years old whose menstruation has become irregular, lighter, or less frequent, may be approaching menopause once pregnancy has been ruled out. Many women feel that their bodies are changing in negative ways while they are adjusting to a lower production of estrogen and hot flashes are a fairly frequent occurrence.
How can I get tested for it?
It is important to realize that there are other causes for menstrual irregularities and the symptoms mentioned above, so I urge my patients to maintain their annual gynecologic screening tests such as pap smears and mammograms at all times. We can check hormone levels in your blood to confirm menopause.
How can it be treated?
This is the unfortunate question that plagues millions of women and their doctors. The plethora of symptoms range from mild to nearly intolerable. There are certain non-prescription supplements and prescription medications I recommend that may help to alleviate symptoms and some women choose to initiate bio-identical hormones at this time as well. While there are definitely not enough therapeutic options with proven effects to treat menopausal symptoms, I work with each patient to find the treatment options best suited for her.