women and menopauseWhen you come to the end of your childbearing years, your body reacts to menopause with a few expected and sometimes uncomfortable symptoms.

Fortunately, there are ways to manage the side effects of menopause, and your physician can help you navigate this phase of your life. While each person will experience a unique set of symptoms during menopause, there are some common changes you can expect during this time of transition.

Symptoms to Expect

During your perimenopause years, which may begin as early as your mid-40s, your body starts to produce less estrogen and you may see a disruption in your menstrual cycle. Once your cycle has stopped for at least a full year, you are in menopause. On top of missed periods, your body may signal to you that you are entering perimenopause with the following common symptoms:

Hot flashes: The upper half of your body may get suddenly hot; you could even break out in a sweat followed by the chills. Hot flashes can last a few seconds or a few minutes.

Mood swings: As your levels of estrogen and progesterone change in menopause, you may notice significant mood swings. If you have previously been prone to PMS or depression, you may be particularly susceptible to mood swings.

Problems sleeping: Challenges falling and staying asleep may begin in perimenopause. It can become important to avoid caffeine and increase your exercise to ensure you enjoy the benefit of REM cycles.

Memory deficiencies: Your memory abilities may change as you get older no matter what. However, during your perimenopause and menopausal years, it’s not uncommon to notice a lot of lapses in memory.

Vaginal dryness: As your body changes, you are very likely to notice vaginal dryness. It’s also not uncommon to experience a spike in urinary tract infections.

When to Seek Treatment

Though menopausal symptoms are quite normal, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consult a physician to help manage your symptoms and determine which treatments can mitigate discomfort. As well as getting a physical when you start to notice you may be premenopausal, here are some other indicators that you should visit your doctor:

Extreme symptoms: If you are experiencing any of the common symptoms of menopause to such an extent that it interferes with your daily life, it’s time to go to the doctors. While mood changes and other physiological changes might be expected, if you find you’re unable to go to work or feel regularly unwell, it’s always a good idea to seek help from a medical professional.

Unexpected symptoms: Some women have a more difficult time throughout menopause than others. If, in addition to traditional side effects, you notice a lot of weight gain, dizziness, or increased anxiety, seeking treatment from a doctor is important.

How Your Doctor Can Help

Your physician can offer more than just moral support and advice for at-home treatments during perimenopause and menopause. They may also recommend:

Hormone therapy: Menopause hormone therapy (MHT) can help regulate mood swings and some of the other hormonal changes that occur during your transitional years. Hormone therapy comes with a variety of its own side effects, but you and your doctor may decide it’s in your best interest.

Oral contraceptives: Despite the fact that you’re exiting your childbearing years, oral contraceptives may still be prescribed to you. Birth control pills help regulate hormones and may stave off extreme hot flashes, as well as regulating unpredictable periods during this time of life.

Other medications: Your doctor may also prescribe medications for depression, anxiety, or vaginal dryness. He or she may also recommend over the counter products, including vaginal lubricants and moisturizers.

Going through menopause can bring about a variety of physiological changes. Contact Tri-City Medical Center today if you have any questions or concerns about how to navigate this transitional stage in your life.