Women's Health: How to Handle Menopause


Menopause is a period in a woman’s reproductive life when the hormone estrogen begins to decrease in preparation for the cessation of menstruation. These changes in a woman’s natural hormone levels can sometimes produce uncomfortable symptoms that may have an impact on women’s daily lives. Not all women experience discomfort during this time, but if you are one of the women who do have symptoms, a number of medical options are available. Your gynecologist can provide you with information about the right treatment for you.

Common Menopausal Symptoms

Women may experience a number of troublesome physical symptoms associated with changing hormone levels around menopause. These symptoms can disturb sleep, disrupt relationships and cause social embarrassment. Common symptoms include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep problems
  • Vaginal dryness and painful intercourse
  • Urinary tract infections or incontinence
  • Osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones

Medical Treatment for Menopause Symptoms

Women can choose from a number of options for relieving the symptoms of menopause. For some patients, hormone replacement therapy is the best option. Estrogen replacement may be combined with progesterone, another type of hormone. Hormone replacement is available in pill form, patches, creams and rings. However, this may not be the right choice for some women. Antidepressants are sometimes prescribed to deal with hot flashes and mood problems. Anti-seizure drugs are also used to control hot flashes. Experienced doctors such as Dr. Rhene Merkouris, an Anchorage OB/GYN, can determine the best method of treatment for your needs.

Non-Pharmaceutical Help for Menopause Symptoms

Women who have had breast cancer or other medical conditions may not be suitable candidates for hormone replacement therapy or other medications. These patients can choose from other options for treatment. Lubricant products can help with vaginal dryness caused by menopause. A number of herbal supplements have been used throughout history to control menopause symptoms, but these compounds are not effective on all women. Black cohosh, dong quai, wild yam, chasteberry and vitamin E are supplements that some women find helpful for reducing menopausal symptoms. Regular exercise can also help to manage symptoms effectively. Eating a healthy diet is also recommended to help women adjust to their changing hormonal condition.
Menopause doesn’t have to be a time of physical discomfort with temperature, mood and sleep problems. Talk to your OB/GYN about your options for treatment so that you can get through this time of life more comfortably.