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Menopause is inevitable. Suffering through it isn’t.
Diane Mancini, an AdventHealth nurse practitioner with 30 years of experience, encourages her patients to see menopause in a new way, as an opportunity.
“It’s a chance for reflection, evaluation and making new habits,” says Mancini, who is certified as a menopause practitioner by the North American Menopause Society.
That rosy attitude may seem like a stretch to a woman dealing with hot flashes, poor sleep quality, memory loss or any one of menopause’s disruptive symptoms.
But Mancini says you have options to rid yourself of these side effects and see menopause as a chance to set the stage for the next chapter of your life.
Some of the first adjustments to manage menopause can be made on your own, including:
- Changing your lifestyle, including healthy eating, getting enough sleep, exercising and, if relevant, stopping smoking
- Figuring out what triggers menopause symptoms and avoiding them
- Sleeping in a cool, dark room with a fan nearby
- Keeping an ice pack under your pillow
- Drinking enough water
- Taking care of yourself and managing stress (this will vary person to person)
Even someone who takes all the right steps can benefit from a little additional help.
What Medicine Might Help with Menopause?
If you’re looking for medicine to help address your menopause symptoms, you have two options: over-the-counter medicine or prescription therapies.
Mancini says trying these over-the-counter remedies can be a good first step:
- Black cohosh: This medicinal root may treat hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause
- Isoflavones: This chemical, often found in soy, is sometimes seen as a replacement to estrogen therapy
- Essential oils, including lavender, peppermint and evening primrose, may ease menopause symptoms
Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Right for You?
Menopause can lower a woman’s hormone levels, and one potential treatment is to replace them with hormone therapy.
Because it can cause serious side effects, hormone therapy to treat menopause symptoms should be at the lowest dose for the shortest time it’s needed, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
However, it can be among the most effective treatments of menopause symptoms. So, if your symptoms are bothering you or you’re losing bone mass it’s worth asking your doctor about.
New Medications Available
Hormone therapy is no longer the only prescription option for the relief of menopause symptoms, Mancini says. Though they were originally developed as antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs, the following medications can now help women with menopause:
- Paroxetine (Brisdelle)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor)
Vaginal Health and Menopause
Menopause can cause a thinning out of the superficial cells that line the vagina. This can lead to a variety of problems, including the following:
- Painful intercourse
- Higher risk of infection
- Urinary incontinence (being unable to control when you urinate)
Urinary incontinence is not a natural part of aging, Mancini says, and if you experience it you have options. Vaginal estrogen, physical therapy and surgery are all potential treatments for urinary incontinence.
Though discussing your urinary incontinence can be difficult, suffering in silence is worse, she says.
There’s one final menopause symptom to consider, though it can be among the most serious.
Bone Health and Menopause
Having osteoporosis — or brittle bones — can be related to menopause and set a woman up for a painful or deadly fracture later in life. Smoking, an inactive lifestyle, having Caucasian ethnicity or a family history of osteoporosis can increase your risks of developing the condition.
If you’re at risk, consider getting a bone density test.
The silent nature of osteoporosis makes it critical to prevent and treat it, Mancini says. She recommends some of the following steps:
- Weight-bearing exercise (anything that gets you on your feet, including walking, running or gardening)
- Balance work
- Fall prevention
- Taking vitamin D and calcium supplements
Prescription treatment options like Reclast and Prolia may provide other options.
A Whole-Health Focus
The best approach to menopause, Mancini says, is to be proactive. Looking for lifestyle and medicinal solutions to your menopause issues will help you feel in control of your health. Working closely with a provider that encourages an open dialogue is the best choice.
AdventHealth for Women is all about helping you feel whole. We don’t just tell you what lifestyle changes to make; we work with you to develop a plan that fits your life and health goals. We also offer the latest in hormone replacement therapy and non-hormonal prescription treatment.
To find a menopause expert near you, call our Women’s Health Navigator at 407-720-5191 or visit our website.