Menopause is part of aging. If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms that negatively affect your day-to-day activities, please speak with an OB/GYN in San Antonio.
Helping You Deal with Hormonal Shifts
Menopause and the changes leading to it do not happen overnight. Before women stop having their monthly periods completely, some women may experience hot flashes, sleeping difficulties, night sweats and irregular periods for several months. At the same time, a woman’s risk for certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, osteoporosis, urinary incontinence and obesity, may increase after menopause.
At Baptist Health System, we offer classes, events and a care program that aims to help women prepare for and manage menopause. Whether you’re dealing with symptoms that hold you back from being your best self or you simply want to avoid the health risks related to menopause, our experienced gynecologists in San Antonio are here to provide compassionate care and safe treatment options. We care about you and your journey.
What Is Menopause?
Menopause occurs when the ovaries stop making estrogen and other sex hormones; this is what causes monthly periods to end. Gynecologists consider that a woman has officially gone through menopause if she experienced 12 consecutive months without having a menstrual period.
When Does Menopause Start?
The average menopausal age is 51, but women may go through this phase any time in their 40s, 50s or even 60s. Alternatively, menopause may occur at an earlier age which is referred to as premature menopause.
What Is Premature or Early Menopause?
Menopause that occurs before 40 years old is called premature menopause. Approximately 5% of women experience early menopause, which may be caused by certain conditions, medications or treatments.
Other reasons that may cause premature or early menopause may include:
- Family history of premature or early menopause
- Removal of the ovaries
- Removal of the uterus
- Chemotherapy or pelvic radiation treatment
- Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disease
- HIV and AIDS
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Missing chromosomes
Premature or early menopause may cause more severe menopause symptoms. If you think you may be reaching menopause earlier than normal, if you’re at a higher risk for premature or early menopause or if you are experiencing any symptoms please speak with an OB/GYN in San Antonio.
What Are the Most Common Perimenopause and Menopause Symptoms?
You may experience the following symptoms before and during menopause:
- Lighter or heavier periods
- Longer or shorter menstrual cycle
- Missed periods
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Moodiness and irritability
- Anxiety and depression
- Loss of concentration
- Uterine bleeding concerns
- Short-term memory problems
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Vaginal dryness
These symptoms may occur for several years postmenopause and may also resolve over time. Meanwhile, if you’re experiencing vaginal bleeding, please see your doctor as early as possible as this may be a sign of a serious medical condition. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please seek care at the closest emergency room, or call 9-1-1.
What Are the Two Stages of Menopause?
Menopause has two stages:
Before menopause occurs, some women may go through a transitional phase called perimenopause (which means “around menopause”). This occurs because your estrogen levels shift and fluctuate several months or years before menopause. The average duration of perimenopause is three to four years, although it may also last up to 14 years. But since every woman’s journey is unique, some women do not experience the perimenopause symptoms and simply go into menopause.
As its name suggests, postmenopause happens after you stop having menstrual periods for over a year. Your hormone levels will remain low during this time, and pregnancy will no longer be possible without assistance or intervention. Postmenopause is also when women are at an increased risk for certain conditions such as changes in vaginal health (i.e., vaginal dryness), high cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, depression and other mental health conditions. Doctors typically recommend women maintain a healthy diet to avoid obesity, increase their calcium and exercise to keep their bones strong and to avoid obesity during this time.
How to Manage Perimenopause and Menopause Symptoms
Your OB/GYN in San Antonio may recommend various types of treatment options for perimenopause and menopause symptoms which may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications or supplements for sleep concerns and memory problems such as melatonin, vitamin E and vitamin B12
- Birth control pills to manage irregular periods, cramping or heavy bleeding
- Eating healthy and exercising to lower cholesterol levels and/or manage weight
- Therapies for anxiety, depression, change in mood or irritability and other mental health concerns
- Using vaginal estrogen (in tablet, gel, cream or ring form) or vaginal moisturizers to help relieve vaginal dryness
- Home remedies such as a warm compress for cramping
Maintaining Your Health After Menopause
Here are some of the best ways to help you stay healthy and positive after menopause:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Avoid excess sugar, salt and processed food.
- Exercise regularly. Incorporate both cardiovascular and strength training to maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol levels.
- Try to stop unhealthy habits. These include smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Ask your doctor about supplements. You need to strengthen your bone and immune system after menopause. If you cannot incorporate more vitamin D and calcium in your diet, please consult your doctor about taking supplements.
- Visit your doctor. Schedule annual visits to your gynecologist in San Antonio to monitor your health after menopause. If you experience signs or symptoms of a condition or changes in your body that impact your day-to-day life, speak with your doctor as early as possible.
Recommended Health Tests and Screenings After Menopause
As mentioned, women may increase their risk for certain conditions after menopause. We recommend that you regularly see your doctor and ask about the following tests and screenings to help you stay on top of your health during this period:
- Pelvic exams to check vaginal health
- Mammograms for breast cancer checks
- Osteoporosis tests (i.e. bone density scans)
- Pap smears
- Other gynecological screenings
- Other cancer screenings
Your doctor may also recommend certain immunizations to help you avoid specific conditions after menopause.
Providing Care Throughout Your Menopausal Journey
Menopause may be challenging to go through, especially when there are symptoms that affect your productivity, mood and overall well-being. Baptist Health System has several hospitals in San Antonio with gynecologists, nurses and administrative staff ready to provide the care and assistance you need throughout your menopausal journey. We also offer classes and seminars that may help you gain more knowledge about preparing for and managing menopause and be part of a community that knows and understands what you feel and experience.