Menopause is the biological process that signals the end of a woman’s reproductive years. Typically, a woman is diagnosed as menopausal if she hasn’t had a menstrual period for one full year. Women can go through menopause in their 40s or 50s, and while every woman must experience it, the symptoms can severely and negatively impact your well-being.
Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and more are all common side effects of menopause. They can make life hard as you come to terms with getting older, but you don’t have to suffer alone. If you find yourself frustrated with the symptoms of menopause, it’s time to seek help. Gary Willen, MD, MBA, and the team at Tahoe Women’s Care are experts at understanding the symptoms of menopause and prescribing methods to help you manage them.
Many women find relief from menopausal side effects through hormone replacement therapy, or HRT. HRT replaces the estrogen that your body stops producing as you go through menopause. With added estrogen, symptoms of menopause that cause discomfort are often eased.
The symptoms of menopause
Menopause is the result of your body’s natural decline in estrogen and progesterone production. These hormones are responsible for regulating your menstrual cycle, and the start of menopause marks the end of your fertile reproductive years.
As hormone production declines, you’ll enter perimenopause (the months or years leading up to menopause) and then menopause itself. After menopause, you will be considered postmenopausal for the rest of your life. Menopause is different for every woman, and symptoms can come and go.
Common symptoms of menopause can often interfere with your ability to enjoy life, making menopause a difficult time for plenty of women. Symptoms include:
- Hot flashes
- Sleep disturbances
- Mood swings
- Vaginal dryness
- Irregular periods (during perimenopause)
- Weight gain
- Thinning hair
How hormone replacement therapy helps
Most negative symptoms of menopause — like hot flashes, sleep disturbances, bone loss, and vaginal discomfort — are due to your body’s lower levels of estrogen. At Tahoe Women’s Care, Dr. Willen prescribes hormone replacement therapy to replace the estrogen your body lacks.
There are two main types of estrogen HRT: estrogen-only therapy and a combination therapy including estrogen and progestogen. Both give your body the extra estrogen that it needs to provide much-needed relief from disruptive menopausal symptoms.
Generally, estrogen-only therapy is recommended for women who no longer have a uterus, due to a hysterectomy. For women who have a uterus, the estrogen and progestogen therapy helps protect against uterine cancer.
Dr. Willen will customize your HRT plan to meet your unique needs. Menopause is different for every woman, and so is your recommended HRT plan. Dosages vary, and you should be familiar with the risks of therapy before you begin. In general, Dr. Willen begins by starting you on the lowest dosage to find what works best for you.
You can take hormone replacement supplements in a variety of ways, including oral tablets, patches, gels, injections, and more. For vaginal symptoms, local HRT can be applied as a cream, ring, or tablet.
You might find that your HRT needs change as you go through perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. It’s a good idea to maintain regular appointments with Dr. Willen, and share any questions or concerns you might have during your journey.
You don’t have to suffer the symptoms of menopause alone. Hormone replacement therapy can significantly improve the symptoms you struggle with, helping you get back to enjoying the life you love. To find out if HRT is a good option for you, call Dr. Willen or request your first appointment online.