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Menopause may be a “natural” event, but it can cause a lot of unpleasant symptoms and health risks. At Elite GYN Care of the Palm Beaches, women receive customized menopause management solutions aimed at relieving their symptoms and improving their overall health and wellness. Dr. Maureen Whelihan welcomes patients from Lake Worth and Greenacres, FL, and all of Palm Beach County.
Why does menopause occur?
Menopause occurs when a woman’s body slows down its production of estrogen and progesterone, two hormones necessary for reproduction and which play important roles in other functions and other aspects of health. Medically speaking, a woman is said to be in menopause when she has not had a period for 12 consecutive months. However, many women use the term menopause to refer to the years prior to the end of menstruation, which is when symptoms begin to appear. More accurately, the time leading up to menopause is called perimenopause, although that term is rarely heard outside the doctor’s office.
What are the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause?
Perimenopause and menopause can cause an array of symptoms, including:
- irregular periods, including spotting between periods and very heavy periods
- hot flashes
- night sweats
- weight gain, especially around the midsection
- hair growth on the face
- hair thinning or loss on the head
- itchy nipples
- headaches and joint pain
- vaginal dryness and painful intercourse
- decreased interest in sex
Some women will experience significant and even severe symptoms as they approach the end of the period and even once menopause occurs, while others may have very few symptoms or develop symptoms like vaginal dryness only once their periods have completely ended.
What menopause treatments are available?
Menopause can’t be “cured,” but there are treatments and lifestyle changes that can be helpful in the management of menopause symptoms like vaginal dryness, insomnia, and painful intercourse. Hormone therapy using hormones similar to what we make in our body often referred to as “bioidentical” hormones can be especially effective in addressing most of the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, replacing some of the hormones the body is no longer producing on its own. Because women can experience different symptoms, menopause treatment must be customized to the needs of each patient to be effective.
Once I’m in menopause, do I still need to see a gynecologist?
Yes. Gynecologists have special training in treating the unique medical needs of women at every stage of life, from puberty all the way through the menopause years. Seeing a gynecologist every year for well woman visits is important for maintaining optimal health and avoiding serious health problems that are become more common with age.