Menopause is the point in time at which a woman has not had a menstrual period in 12 months
For the years leading up to menopause, a woman may experience symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, irregular periods, mood changes, irritability and trouble with sleep. These changes may start around age 45-55 and can last for several years during the menopause transition or “perimenopause.” During the menopause transition there is still a slight chance you could become pregnant, so we would recommend continuation of some form of pregnancy prevention until one year after your last period. Some of these symptoms may persist beyond menopause, and some women may develop vaginal dryness that can contribute to discomfort with daily activities, exercise or sex.
What treatments are available for the symptoms of menopause?
There are hormonal and non-hormonal treatment options for managing the symptoms of menopause.
The treatment of menopause is meant to reduce the severity and frequency of symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, difficulty sleeping and vaginal dryness and provide relief of these symptoms.
What does “bioidentical” hormone replacement mean?
Bioidentical hormones are plant-derived hormones that are chemically similar or structurally identical to those produced by the body.
For patients that would like hormone replacement therapy, there are bioidentical options commercially available and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), such as micronized progesterone and estradiol that can be provided through a prescription. In other situations the FDA and The Endocrine Society would recognize the phrase “bioidentical hormone therapy” as a marketing term and not one based on scientific evidence.
Is hormone replacement therapy safe?
Every woman is different and each patient will have a health history, a family history, and personal feelings toward hormone replacement to consider.
But, in general, For healthy women younger than 60 years with bothersome symptoms who are within 10 years of menopause, the benefits of hormone replacement therapy generally outweigh the risks. Hormone therapy might slightly increase your risk of stroke or blood clots in the legs or lungs (especially if taken in pill form) and if used for more than 4-7 years may slightly increase the risk of breast cancer. Generally speaking, hormone replacement is associated with fewer than 2 additional harmful events per 1,000 women per year. For example, the increased chance of breast cancer with hormone replacement therapy is 1 extra case per 1,000 women per year.