Menopause is the time in a woman's life that marks the end of her reproductive years. Doctors diagnose menopause after 12 consecutive months without a menstrual cycle. However, the years leading up to menopause (perimenopause) can be uncomfortable due to the drastic decrease in the body's estrogen production.
Estrogen and progesterone are the female body's main reproductive hormones, and they change significantly as you near menopause. The change leads to uncomfortable symptoms that disrupt daily living, but you don't have to sit back and take it.
Dr. Inga Zilberstein is a board-certified OB/GYN who offers various treatments for women's health issues at her office in the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York. She’s happy to answer your questions about treatments for unbearable menopause symptoms, including hormone replacement therapy.
As a woman nears menopause — a time known as perimenopause — her body undergoes many changes, including hormone fluctuations and irregular menstrual cycles. Estrogen is the primary hormone menopause affects, dropping hormone production rapidly in the years leading up to menopause.
Your body goes through significant changes that result in various uncomfortable symptoms, such as:
- Sleep disturbances
- Mood swings
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Bladder control problems
- Menstrual irregularities
Some women can deal with the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause on their own — whether through lifestyle changes or because symptoms are mild. Others seek treatment for severe symptoms that disrupt their everyday life. You should know that while symptoms are a normal part of menopause, you don’t have to live with them.
Once you reach menopause and your hormones even out, some symptoms may subside. Other women may need to continue treatment.
Lifestyle changes to manage hormones
If you're looking for a natural and nonhormonal treatment option to overcome the symptoms of menopause, Dr. Zilberstein recommends several lifestyle changes, including:
Exercise is a great way to get your body in shape, and it's also beneficial in relieving several symptoms related to menopause. Gentle exercises relieve stress and calm your mind, helping you sleep better at night.
Eat a healthy diet
Your diet is prominent in how you feel, especially during menopause. Limiting the caffeine you drink, cutting back on spicy foods, and including plenty of fruits and vegetables can help you reduce or avoid hot flashes and night sweats.
Avoid hot flash triggers
Hot flashes sometimes come from triggers, including smoking, drinking hot beverages, wearing the wrong clothing, and a hot bedroom. Take the time to identify what brings on hot flashes and adjust accordingly.
Menopause is stressful, and trying to reduce stress during this time is crucial. Practice with techniques like deep breathing, yoga, and meditation to help you relax your mind and improve your mood.
Medications and more
Sometimes, hormonal birth control or antidepressants can help with some of the severe symptoms of menopause.
Maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking are other changes to stay comfortable during menopause. These changes are also a great way to improve your health as well as the symptoms of menopause.
Hormone replacement therapy can help
If you've tried lifestyle changes without success, Dr. Zilberstein offers both hormone and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy for relief.
Hormone replacement therapy is a way to replace the rapidly declining estrogen and fluctuating progesterone in your body through various applications: creams, pills, patches, sprays, and vaginal rings.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is considered a natural form of hormone replacement that mimics the hormones in your body. Scientists manufacture bioidentical hormones to match the chemical structure of estrogen and progesterone in the body. Although it's more natural than regular hormone replacement therapy, it's still not as natural as the body's hormones.
Dr. Zilberstein recommends hormone replacement therapy if you're having a difficult time controlling the symptoms related to menopause, such as night sweats, insomnia, and mood swings.
Are menopause symptoms getting the better of you? Take a proactive approach to managing menopause. Call or text Inga Zilberstein, MD, today to schedule a consultation for hormone replacement therapy, or book an appointment online.