What Does A Gynecologist Do for Menopause?
The hormonal changes associated with menopause can affect many aspects of a woman's life, including her physical, emotional, mental and social well-being. However, menopause symptoms vary substantially from person to person. A gynecologist can help you diagnose menopause and cope with the changes as you transition.
What Is Menopause?
Menopause is not a disease or disorder. It is a biological stage when a woman stops having a monthly period that marks the end of her reproductive years. Menopause occurs when the ovaries stop making estrogen, a hormone that helps control the menstrual cycle. The average age of menopause is between the ages of 45 and 55. Women can have premature menopause or induced menopause as a consequence of a surgical or medical procedure, such as a hysterectomy.
When Does Menopause Start?
Natural menopause officially begins when a woman has not had a period for 12 consecutive months. But hormonal changes and symptoms can start several years leading up to menopause, which is called perimenopause. Perimenopause and menopause symptoms can profoundly impact a woman’s life, including relationships and work.
What Are the Symptoms of Menopause?
As estrogen levels decrease starting perimenopause, many women experience mild symptoms or do not require any treatment. Others may have more severe symptoms. Some of the most common menopause symptoms include:
- Hot flashes or a sudden feeling of heat in the face, neck and chest, often accompanied by flushing of the skin, sweating, palpitations and acute feelings of physical discomfort, which can last several minutes
- Night sweats
- Changes in the regularity and flow of the menstrual cycle
- Vaginal dryness, pain during sexual intercourse and incontinence
- Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
- Changes in mood, depression and/or anxiety
What Can A Doctor Do for Menopause Symptoms?
Many women benefit from seeing a gynecologist to manage perimenopause and menopause symptoms. Your gynecologist can order tests to check your hormone levels and analyze your blood and urine to rule out other health conditions unrelated to menopause. Your gynecologist may recommend one or more of the following treatments to treat your symptoms:
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – is a type of treatment that can help relieve symptoms of perimenopause and menopause by providing supplemental estrogen and progestin to balance your hormones. HRT can be given in several forms, including pills, skin patches, gels and sprays applied to the skin. However, hormone replacement therapy may increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer and other health conditions.
- Other treatments – medications, such as antidepressants, gabapentin (an antiseizure drug) and clonidine (a blood pressure medication) can help reduce hot flashes and ease sleep problems. Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) can also relieve hot flashes and pain during intercourse caused by vaginal dryness.
Going through menopause can be overwhelming. Whether you want to treat your symptoms or not is a complicated and personal decision. No matter what you decide, see your gynecologist every year to help you have a better quality of life throughout menopause and the years after. We’re here for you, always.
National Health Services UK
NIH National Institute on Aging
Medical News Today
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
World Health Organization