STOP SUFFERING IN SILENCE:
By Helen Simigiannis, MD
For years women didn’t talk much about the changes they experienced before, during and after menopause. It’s just in the last 30 years or so that women have been encouraged to speak with their physicians about their symptoms. Now, women are much more in tune with their bodies and proactive about seeking treatment for the symptoms that can make life uncomfortable.
Here are 11 lesser-known facts about “the change of life.”
1. Menopause is diagnosed after it’s over.
2. The pre-cursor to menopause is peri-menopause.
3. Menopause is more than just hot flashes.
4. Hot flashes can affect your focus.
5. Menopause can start as early as 40 years of age.
6. Menopause can start as late as your early 60s.
7. There are several treatments for hot flashes, not just hormone therapy.
8. There’s no correlation between when your period starts and when you start menopause.
9. The amount of calcium in your bones is set at age 30.
10. Not all women need both estrogen and progesterone after menopause.
11. There are several options to relieve vaginal dryness.
The most important advice I can give women is that there are a variety of effective treatments to manage the symptoms of menopause. There is no reason to suffer. Talk to your doctor about your options.
When your body stops producing estrogen, one side effect is vaginal dryness, which can make intercourse uncomfort- able. Estrogen therapy can help. If you have other menopausal symptoms, your doctor may recommend oral hormone replacement. However, if your only symptom is dryness, a topical, low-dose estrogen treatment may be more appro- priate. Topical estrogen comes in several forms: cream, tablet or vaginal ring. Your doctor should prescribe the lowest dose of estrogen needed to relieve dryness. Vaginal moisturizers also can be used, as well as some newer, non-hormonal FDA-approved therapies. The FDA-cleared fractional CO2 laser has been a promising new non-medication treatment as well.
A recent patient had been suffering from vaginal dryness – and painful intercourse – for nearly three years before she booked an appointment with me for guidance. Her previous ob/gyn hadn’t asked about vaginal dryness during her well-woman visit and she was embarrassed to bring it up herself. We had a frank discussion about her symptoms and after an examination, I prescribed a topical vaginal treatment. Her symptoms improved significant-
ly at her two-month follow up visit and continued so she was able to be intimate with her partner
￼￼The most important advice I can give women is that there are a variety of effective treatments to manage the symptoms of menopause. There is no reason to suffer. Talk to your doctor about your options.
Helen Simigiannis, MD, FACOG, is a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist on staff at Centra- State Medical Center. She is also a North American Menopause Society Certified Menopause Practi- tioner, and has a private practice in East Windsor. She can be reached by calling 866-CENTRA7.