Top Ten Steps to a Healthy Menopause*
#10: This is not your grandmother's menopause
At the turn of the 19th century, a woman's average life expectancy was 48.3 years. Most women did not live beyond their childbearing years. Today, if you are 45 years old, you can expect to live another 35-40 years. Some would say that it's not natural for a woman to live so many years without the benefits of the hormones they had when they were younger. Menopause is a natural part of life, not a disease; you can expect to stay fit and healthy after menopause.
#9: Know what's happening physically
Estrogen is necessary for reproduction and provides you with feminine characteristics. When your ovaries stop producing the hormones necessary for pregnancy your periods stop as well. Menopause is merely your last menstrual period. For many women, the changes leading to menopause begin a few years before their last period, and during this time of hormonal fluctuation, they may experience hot flashes, sleep disturbances, night sweats, palpitations, headaches, mood swings, and fatigue.
#8: Menopause can affect sexual function
Women experience the effects of menopause in a variety of ways. Lack of hormones can affect the lubrication of the vaginal wall. As a result, you might experience vaginal dryness that makes sexual intercourse painful. You shouldn't have to have pain with intercourse.
#7: Talk with your clinician about menopause
You may hear a lot about menopause and hormones on television or in magazines, but your clinician should be your primary source of information about menopause. She or he is in the best position to respond to your individual needs.
#6: Focus on what's important to you
Your clincian may not cover everything you want to know about menopause and your health in a single office visit. Try to focus on one topic at a time and pick the topic that's most important to you now; schedule a seperate office visit if you have more questions.
#5: Menopause treatments are safe and effective
While menopause is inevitable, many of the bothersome and sometimes disabling conditions associated with it can be prevented or treated. There are many products available to treat your menopausal symptoms. You and your clinician should be able to find a product or products that will be comfortable for you to use and will relieve your specific symptoms
#4: Don't accept a "one size fits all" treatment plan
You and your clinician will discuss what treatment is best for you based on your particular symptom, your personal and family medical history, your health needs, and lifestyle. You don't have to take a pill for your hot flashes if you don't want to. Many other options are available including patches, creams, gels, vaginal rings and vaginal tablets. Hormone therapy comes in patches that contain just enough hormone to give you the relief you need. The patches come in a variety of sizes and doses.
#3: Know how hormone therapy works
When you take hormone therapy it's really the estrogen part that relieves your symptoms by producing a steady level of estrogen. Some of your symptoms, like hot flashes and vaginal dryness, may be caused by declining hormone levels. You can take estrogen topically (patch, cream, gel); orally (pill); or vaginally (tablet, cream, ring). If you have a uterus, you can also take a progestogen to minimize your risks of uterine cancer. You can take a progestogen combined with estrogen in skin patch or pill formulation or use natural progesterone in addition to your estrogen. Your clinican will help you choose a regimen that is right for you.
#2: What to expect from your hormone therapy
If you take estrogen, your symptoms should be alleviated within a few weeks. Your clinician will be able to adjust your hormone therapy dosage so that it works for you. You and your clinician will regularly review your health status to determine how long you should take hormone therapy. Remember: every woman is different.
#1: Stay fit and healthy
*: From the Alliance for Healthy Women in Menopause: Menopause Educator patient education brochure
Your lifestyle should include a balanced, nutritious diet and regular physical activity. If you have questions about your health, be sure to discuss them with your clinician.
Read more about
Hormone Therapy at:
Women's Health Initiative (WHI) is a long-term study sponsored
by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that is looking at ways
to prevent heart disease, breast and colon cancer, and osteoporosis.
The hormone therapy part of the study has two 'arms' (seperate portions)
- one looking at estrogen therapy (ET) for women without a uterus
and one looking at estrogen plus progestogen therapy (EPT) for women
with a uterus.
or visit http://www.menopauserx.com/health_center/med_HRTERT.htm#WHI
to read more about the important findings from this study.