Menopause

The menopause transition is the time in a woman’s life when hormones produced by aging ovaries start fluctuating. It may start in their early 40s and cause physical, psychological and emotional changes.

Where are you in the range of the menopause transition? 

·       Are you over 40 and having irregular (heavier or lighter, more often, less often) periods? If so, then you’re in perimenopause. Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause and may last several years. You may still get pregnant during perimenopause so birth control is recommended if pregnancy is to be avoided.

·       Haven’t had a period for more than 12 months? You’re postmenopausal. Menopause is a normal, natural event associated with reduced function of the ovaries and a decrease in estrogen, the predominant female hormone. It marks the end of fertility and periods and it is confirmed after 12 consecutive months without a period.

·       Have you undergone chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments that have seriously damaged ovarian function, or surgery to remove both ovaries? If yes, you may experience induced menopause.

Symptoms you may experience during menopause:

·       Hot flashes and night sweats (hot flashes that happen during sleep), also known as vasomotor symptoms (VMS), are commonly reported during the menopause transition. Some women report mild VMS, while others experience VMS so severe they can be debilitating.

·       Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM) is a collection of symptoms associated with the vagina, clitoris, labia, urethra and bladder. Women may experience vaginal dryness, pain with sex, urinary leakage (peeing when coughing or laughing), vaginal yeast infections, and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

 

Did you know that the following symptoms may also be related to hormonal changes?                                              

  • Sleep disturbances (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep);
  • Fatigue, lack of energy;
  • Trouble concentrating and difficulty with memory (brain fog), forgetfulness;
  •  Mood swings (crying one minute and laughing the next);
  • Irritability;
  • Anxiety, panic attacks;
  • Feeling “blue”, low self-esteem;
  • Heart palpitations;
  • Weight gain (especially around the midsection); and
  • Hair loss, dry skin, dry eyes.

 

If your quality of life is affected by menopause, seek help. Don’t just put up with it and wait for it to go away—some women may experience symptoms for six to ten years. It’s not all in your head and you are not alone. Even though each woman experiences menopause in a unique way, millions of women around the world are going through menopause with similar experiences, challenges and complaints. Talk to your physician and pharmacist to find out what treatments are available and the ones that are suitable for you. 

 

Hormone therapy (HT) is the most effective treatment for menopausal symptoms.  It is an acceptable option for women younger than 60 years of age, who are within ten years of their last menstrual period, who are healthy and who’s quality of life is bothered by menopause. Always check with your physician to make sure your symptoms are related to hormonal changes and not an undiagnosed condition.

 

To find a pharmacist who is also a NAMS (North American Menopause Society) * certified menopause practitioner (NCMP), visit http://www.menopause.org/for-women/find-a-menopause-practitioner.

 

* NAMS - North American Menopause Society is North America’s leading non-profit organization dedicated to promoting women’s health and quality of life through the understanding of menopause and healthy aging.

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