Menopause is the stage in a woman’s life when her body is no longer capable of reproducing. The final menstrual period occurs. Perimenopause is the transitional stage before the period stops. Menopause is the last period, and post-menopause is the time thereafter.
Signs that menopause is approaching may include a change in a woman’s menstrual period. You may notice your periods becoming longer, shorter, or being skipped altogether.
As a woman’s childbearing years come to an end, the hormones her body produces start to fluctuate or decrease. These hormones, estrogen, and progesterone are released from the ovaries and control the menstrual cycle. As a woman gets older, estrogen production slows down. These hormonal changes are responsible for many of the symptoms women experience during menopause, such as hot flashes, bone changes, or vaginal dryness.
Hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, is a type of treatment that offers relief from severe menopause symptoms. Synthetic or bio-identical hormones are given to replace the estrogen that is no longer being produced by the body, particularly in women who have undergone hysterectomies. In some cases, progesterone or progestin is added to the estrogen to treat menopausal women who still have a uterus.
Hormone therapy has been shown to relieve hot flashes and night sweats, ease vaginal dryness, and protect against bone loss, or osteoporosis, which is common in menopausal women. In addition, a combined approach using estrogen and progestin may also reduce a woman’s risk of colon cancer.
Whether hormone therapy is right for you will depend on various factors, including the severity of your menopause symptoms as well as your risk for heart disease and breast cancer. However, if hormone therapy is not for you, there are many other options you can discuss with the women’s health providers at M. DelCharco Jr., MD, LLC.
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