Does Menopause End? Will the Hot Flashes, Vaginal Dryness and Poor Sleep Ever go Away?
While the onset of menopause is easy to define, the end is a little less precise.
Hot Flashes: For most women, the first five years are the most symptomatic, but for up to 20 to 40 percent of women, depending on their particular physiology, hot flashes can last for 10 years. And for about 10 percent of women, they just keep going on and on.
Lifestyle changes may help control symptoms. Exercise, diet and relaxation techniques can help.
If more help is needed, hormone therapy (HT) can help relieve the symptoms of menopause. Women who have had a hysterectomy may be candidates for estrogen therapy alone. For women who still have a uterus, a progestin should be added to reduce the risk of uterine cancer from unopposed estrogen. HT may take the form of pills, skin patches and gels and sprays.
For some women, HT is not desired or appropriate (such as breast cancer survivors). In this case, non-hormonal medications are available that may be effective against menopausal hot flashes.
Consult with your Genesis OB/GYN to chart the best course for managing your symptoms.
Vaginal Dryness: As estrogen levels decrease, changes take place in the vagina. Over time, the vaginal lining gets thinner, dryer, and less elastic. Vaginal dryness may cause pain during sexual intercourse. Vaginal infections also may occur more often.
Women who have vaginal dryness may be prescribed local estrogen therapy in the form of a vaginal ring, tablet or cream. These forms release small doses of estrogen into the vaginal tissue. There is a non-estrogen tablet to relieve vaginal dryness that may be prescribed by your doctor.
A new laser light therapy is now available which delivers gentle laser energy to the vaginal wall tissue that stimulates a healing response by generating new collagen, elastin and vascularization. A typical course of treatment is three procedures over 18 weeks. This FDA-cleared, in-office procedure known as MonaLisa® Touch, takes less than five minutes, no anesthesia and minimal side effects. It is now available at Ironwood OB/GYN, a Genesis OB/GYN practice. Ask your Genesis physician if it is right for you.
Poor Sleep: Poor sleep and depression can also co-exist with menopausal symptoms, and these problems will also contribute to mental fog-type symptoms. Treating the primary problem can help.
If you are troubled by the symptoms of menopause, call your Genesis OB/GYN at (520) 795-0771. We can work with you to devise the best treatment options to smooth the transition to the next chapter in your life.
ACOG: Hormone Therapy PFS 0003, April 2015
ACOG: The Menopause Years FAQ047, May 2015
Answering Your Questions: Health 101 For Grown Women. NPR, Nov. 25, 015, Kitty Eisele and Kate Parkinson-Morgan