Take the Mystery Out of Menopause

You can probably remember the time your mom had “the talk” with you - the one about your period. Or maybe it was an awkward health class. For a lot of girls, someone was there to explain this monthly event. But can you remember ever having a talk about menopause?

“You don’t have to suffer in silence like women used to do,” said Melissa Lambert, WHNP, CHI Health Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. “If you’re not managing it well or having symptoms, your provider wants to help you get through that.”

Walk the journey with your Women’s Health Provider 

For women about to go through this phase of life, understanding why your body goes through it can take the mystery out of menopause.

“Menopause is what happens when your ovaries run out of eggs. The follicles are gone, they are used up and your ovaries can no longer produce estrogen and progesterone,” said Molly Beran, MD, CHI Health Ob-Gyn. 

According to Dr. Beran, the average age of menopause is 51, but women can experience it up to 10 years before or after that.

“Most women are going through it between 45 and 55, and the menopausal transition itself takes place over three to five years,” Dr. Beran said. 

A woman is considered to be menopausal when she’s gone at least 12 months without a menstrual cycle. But what about the time in between? 

Perimenopause is the phase in which symptoms start happening – like the hot flashes or irregular periods we’ve all heard about. As Lambert explains, those symptoms start when your hormone levels change.

“When estrogen levels get lower, women may experience hot flashes, brain fog, irritability and vaginal dryness,” Lambert said. “If these symptoms are happening all the time to the point where they’re disrupting life or causing issues with daily activities, that’s when I like to discuss medication or other options with my patients.”

One of the most common treatment options is hormone replacement therapy, or HRT. For some women, taking a combination of estrogen and progesterone can provide relief. For women who have had a hysterectomy, estrogen can alleviate symptoms. Antidepressants can also help decrease hot flashes in certain cases.

The female body is complex, but menopause doesn’t have to be. Making your health a priority is the first step in getting through it.

“If you want to be healthy in menopause, you have to be healthy in your daily life,” Dr. Beran said.

Talking to close family, friends and your women’s health provider is also an essential step in making sure you keep feeling like you.

“We’re here to give advice and help with medications and symptoms that come along,” Lambert said. “It’s a natural process – but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy process. You’re not alone.”

 

Margaret Beran, MD, FACOG

Obstetrics and Gynecology

Melissa L. Lambert, APRN, WHNP

Women's Health Nurse Practitioner