Dr. Craig Henderson of Ocean OB/GYN shares his knowledge about the causes and complexities of menopause, how hormones play a role, and what symptom control options are available to women.
What exactly is menopause? What symptoms are normal, and when should I expect to experience them?
The definition of “menopause” is when a woman hasn’t had a period for a full year (hence, “pause” in menstruation). Menopause is caused by the natural, long-term decrease in production of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone hormones in the body. Women entering menopause can experience a number of different symptoms, including those listed below. Not all women will experience all of these, as every woman is different.
- Mood swings
- Hair loss
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Difficulty sleeping
- Low libido/sexual drive
- Pain with intercourse
- Joint pain
- Vaginal dryness
- Weight gain
In the U.S., the average age of women entering menopause is 51.5. However, there’s also something called perimenopause, which mimics the same symptoms of menopause, but can happen to women much younger – around age 40.
What is perimenopause?
Women in their 40s may sometimes believe they are experiencing menopause, but it’s possible they may actually be experiencing perimenopause.
Perimenopause is caused by the decreased production of estrogen by the ovaries. In reaction to this decreased production, the pituitary gland stimulates the ovaries to increase estrogen production. Because the ovaries can’t maintain this production, the constant fluctuation of estrogen (up and down, up and down) can cause unpleasant symptoms that mimic those of menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats.
Why do I get hot flashes, and is there anything I can do to prevent them?
Hot flashes are caused by sudden estrogen level drops, as well as sustained low levels of estrogen. A hot flash feels exactly as it sounds – a sudden wave of warmth that is experienced for approximately 60-90 seconds. While difficult to prevent all together, it’s important to note that certain things can actually make hot flashes worse. I warn patients to avoid red wine and caffeine, for example, as these can make hot flashes more uncomfortable.
Will having a hysterectomy cause menopause?
A hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus, which will not cause menopause, as your ovaries are still in place and should be creating appropriate levels of estrogen. However, removing your uterus will cause you to no longer have your period.
If the ovaries are removed at the same time as your hysterectomy, you would experience menopause, as you would no longer have these organs helping you to maintain your estrogen levels.
How can my OBGYN help me address vaginal dryness resulting from menopause?
Vaginal dryness can be uncomfortable, as well as play a role in making intimacy painful. The good news is that your OB/GYN can help you with treating dryness by prescribing a local application of estrogen through the vagina – either by a cream, tablet, or suppository. Vaginal dryness can also be helped when taking systemic hormones, such as those taken through bio-identical hormone therapy. You should feel comfortable speaking about this issue with your provider, as there are multiple approaches to addressing this common problem, and you shouldn’t need to suffer in silence.
Will menopause increase my risk for other health problems?
Menopause does increase the risk for osteoporosis, which is why it’s so important to incorporate a calcium supplement into your everyday routine. Yet, on the flip side, there are ways that the treatment of menopause can actually help your long-term health. For example, women who undergo hormone replacement therapy to address their menopause symptoms have seen benefits from their increased estrogen levels.
For example, estrogen can increase high-density lipid proteins that give you a better good cholesterol ratio (good HDLs), decreasing the risk for heart disease. It can also help with decreased hair loss, improving skin problems, and provide joint lubrication to slow arthritis. One recent study even showed that women on hormone replacement therapy have a lower incidence and slower progression of Alzheimer’s Disease.
What does hormone replacement therapy look like?
Perhaps the most popular approach to hormone replacement therapy today is known as bio-identical hormone therapy. Bio-identical hormones are derived from plant sources and can be dispensed as a capsule, cream, lozenge, or pellet insertion. These therapies are made at a compounding pharmacy by a pharmacist that actually makes up the prescription so that the dosage can be adjusted to fit an individual woman’s symptoms and needs, making this an incredibly customized treatment for patients.
If your menopause symptoms are impacting your lifestyle, don’t hesitate to contact your Axia OB/GYN provider to discuss treatment options.
Interested in Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy?
Axia Women’s Health offers this service at multiple locations throughout New Jersey:
To schedule a consult with Dr. Henderson or one of his teammates at Ocean OB/GYN, call (732) 201-2022
In honor of #WorldMenopauseMonth, we`re here to help spread awareness and support the many women navigating the big change. It`s time to smash the taboo around menopause and aging, and offer women the support we deserve. If you want help managing your menopause symptoms, your Axia Women`s Health provider can help! From lifestyle modifications to medical treatments, there are a host of options available to meet your unique needs.
#menopausehealth #menopause #menopausematters #menopausesupport #womenshealth ...
75% of women experience hot flashes during menopause...can you relate? Menopause can certainly be a frustrating and confusing time with all of the physical and emotional changes. But, if you know what to expect and know the tools to help, it can feel a lot less daunting. Visit link in bio to learn more about how to navigate the big change.
#worldmenopausemonth #menopausematters #hotflashes #menopause #menopauserelief #menopausesupport ...
Join us next Thursday, May 26 at 12pm ET for a real talk about women`s mental health. Megan Lobsinger, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor at Axia Women`s Health, will be sharing advice on navigating emotions around infertility, pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause. Have a question you want addressed? Comment below or DM us privately.
#IGLive #mentalhealthmonth #womensmentalhealth ...
Given recent events, we felt it important to address the topic of hair loss. For more than 50% of women who experience hair loss during menopause, it is not a joke. Swipe to learn more about how to manage this type of hair loss. Visit our link in bio to read our full blog post on the topic.
#hairloss #menopause #menopausehairloss #over50 #hairlosstreatment ...
For women who are just beginning to feel the effects of the change of life, menopause can be mystifying, but it doesn’t have to be. Menopause expert, Dr. Joann Richichi with Axia Women`s Health, offers advice in an interview with Better Nutrition.
#menopausesupport #hormonesupport #hormonalhealth #hotflashes #aging #fiftyplus #perimenopause #menopause #over50 #50andfabulous ...
Hot flashes, sleep apnea, and stress are just a few of the factors that can affect our sleep/wake cycle during our midlife stage. Fortunately, there are things you can do to rest easier!
-Adjust your thermostat between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit at night
-Avoid diet-related triggers like alcohol, caffeine, or spicy foods close to bedtime
-Opt for breathable pajamas with natural fabrics like cotton
-Talk to your Axia Women`s Health provider about treatments that may be able to help
Visit link in bio for our latest blog post on sleep and menopause. ...
Drops in hormone levels can lead to many frustrating symptoms during menopause. One symptom we don`t talk about enough...vaginal atrophy. Vaginal atrophy (vaginal dryness and thinning of the vaginal tissue) is a common concern affecting up to 40% of women during menopause. In our latest blog post, we explore how this affects sexual function and what women can do to take back control of their health!
Visit link in bio to read our interview on "Getting Intimate After Menopause" with Dr. Joann Richichi.
#menopause #menopausesymptoms #menopausesupport #hormonebalance #hormonesupport #hormonetherapy #worldmenopausemonth ...
Menopause can be a time of uncertainty as you navigate the many physical and emotional changes. Fortunately, you don`t have to go it alone!
In honor of #WorldMenopauseDay, we`re here to raise awareness and offer support. Axia Women`s Health providers understand that every woman`s experience is unique and are here to guide you through the transition!
Visit link in bio for a few of our recent blog articles on menopause.
For additional resources, check out these informational and empowering IG accounts:
- @feistymenopause ...
Next up in our Healthy Hormone series, we’re focusing on progesterone - a key player during pregnancy and menopause. Swipe right to learn more about progesterone and how it impacts your health! ...
The answer is….true. Research shows a drop in a woman`s estrogen after menopause may contribute to higher amounts of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol. High cholesterol is one of the leading risk factors of heart disease. High cholesterol usually has no symptoms. Fortunately, a simple blood test can screen for high cholesterol and can help you stay in control of your health!
.#cholesterolawareness #cholesteroleducationmonth #knowyournumbers❤️ #hearthealth #heartdisease ...