Female fertility begins to wind down in middle age, as reproductive hormone levels progressively decline into menopause, or the end of ovulation and menstruation. Although the final chapter in a woman’s reproductive life usually comes with a variety of unwanted symptoms and health changes, advances in medicine have made it possible to manage them effectively. The top-notch team of board-certified OB/GYNs at South Sound Women’s Center in Olympia, Washington, offers comprehensive support for women going through menopause, including hormone replacement therapy. Please call our office to schedule an appointment today.
Menopause is set in motion when your body produces less estrogen and progesterone, the female reproductive hormones that control menstruation and make pregnancy possible.
Your ovaries start reducing reproductive hormone levels by the time you’re in your late 30s, but menopause doesn’t normally occur until you reach your late 40s or early 50s. In the United States, the average age for menopause is 51.
It’s considered menopause when you’ve gone a full year after your final menstrual cycle. For women who undergo a radical hysterectomy, or surgery that removes the uterus as well as the ovaries, menopause begins immediately.
During perimenopause or the period of time it takes to transition into menopause, you may experience a wide variety of physical and emotional symptoms caused by reduced levels of reproductive hormones, including:
For many women, going through menopause also brings about emotional feelings of sadness or loss.
Because declining estrogen levels can impact various aspects of your overall health, it’s important to keep your annual well-woman appointment and have recommended health care screenings following menopause.
Osteoporosis is one of the biggest postmenopausal health concerns, because lower estrogen levels can lead to a rapid loss of bone density and increase your risk of bone fractures.
Lower estrogen levels may also make you more susceptible to developing cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in all adults. Urinary incontinence and significant weight gain are other common health complications associated with menopause.
Menopause may represent the end of fertility, but it doesn’t have to take a toll on your health, vitality, or sexuality.
For women who would benefit, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or the supplementation of reproductive hormones that your body is no longer making, can address the symptoms and health risks associated with menopause.
Low-dose systemic estrogen, which comes in the form of a pill, vaginal ring, or skin patch, can help relieve hot flashes and night sweats, boost energy and mood, and improve sleep.
To determine if HRT is right for you, your doctor will ask you detailed questions about your medical history, and perform a comprehensive physical exam. HRT isn’t recommended for women with a history of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, or gallbladder disease.
To learn more about menopause management or HRT, call the office for an appointment today.