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The Truth About Menopause: Debunking Myths, Embracing Relief

By |2024-07-08T12:12:18-04:00July 8th, 2024|Categories: Women’s Health|Tags: |

Menopause can feel like a rollercoaster of symptoms that turns your world upside down. But hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, brain fog and painful sex do not have to be your new normal. You can take steps to reclaim your life and feel like yourself again.

Charlsie Celestine, MD, a women’s health expert and OB/GYN at Women’s Health Specialists of CentraState, understands the challenges women face during menopause.

“If it’s affecting your life and confidence, let’s take care of it,” she advises. “What you’re feeling is real. It’s not just a passage of life you need to accept.”

Managing Menopause Symptoms

Dr. Celestine begins by determining whether her patient is in menopause, which is defined as going one full year without a menstrual period.

Next, she reviews symptoms and medical history and discusses treatment options, beginning with simple lifestyle changes. Dressing in layers, keeping a cold beverage nearby, layering bedding, lowering the room temperature and using a portable fan can help with hot flashes and night sweats, which can last anywhere from five to eight years for some women. Relaxation techniques, healthy eating, cardiovascular exercise and weightlifting can help manage mood swings and keep weight in check.

For women who need additional support, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the next step. HRT helps steady the levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body, which decrease during menopause.

“For healthy women, including those who have had a hysterectomy, HRT can literally stop hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness in their tracks,” says Dr. Celestine.

HRT may also help with decreased concentration, hair thinning, dry skin, weight gain and sleeplessness. While it’s not a cure-all, it can significantly improve the quality of life for many women.

Misconceptions About HRT

Women are sometimes hesitant to try HRT because earlier studies suggested an increased risk for breast cancer. But newer research, including a recent JAMA study, indicates that the benefits may outweigh the risks for symptom relief in women under age 60.

According to Dr. Celestine, research has shown that HRT may also help reduce the risk of heart disease, bone loss and urinary issues, especially when used at the lowest effective dose for short durations.

Dr. Celestine ensures that her patients have the information they need to make an informed choice. If they choose to try HRT, she eases them in, starting at the lowest dose.

“After eight weeks, we see what symptoms remain, readjust and try for another eight weeks,” explains Dr. Celestine. “Because prescription-based hormones come in different delivery forms – including pills, patches and vaginal rings – patients have options.”

Understanding HRTs Risk Factors

While HRT can be beneficial, it’s not without risks, such as an increased risk for blood clots in certain women. A personal history of breast cancer or blood clots, smoking, uncontrolled blood pressure and diabetes can increase the risks associated with HRT.

Dr. Celestine emphasizes the importance of discussing risks and benefits with your doctor and developing an individualized plan based on your unique health profile. “Just because menopause is a natural process doesn’t mean you have to suffer through it,” adds Dr. Celestine. “You deserve to live your best life at any age.”

Perimenopause: The Transition to Menopause

Women’s hormones decline before menopause, typically starting at around age 40. During this transition, called perimenopause, menstrual periods become more irregular and may be lighter or heavier than usual. Women in perimenopause can experience the same bothersome symptoms as menopause, and treatments are similar. Talk to your doctor about available options.

Ease Menopause Mayhem with Meditation

Relaxation and mindfulness techniques may help with menopause symptoms. Try this meditative exercise:

  • Sit or lie down comfortably and imagine your body is an ice cube melting in a warm cup of tea.
  • Feel all the tension release from your muscles and mind.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose, letting your belly rise and lungs expand.
  • When you reach the top of the breath, hold for a second or two.
  • Exhale through your mouth by softly sighing and holding a “ha” sound. The exhale should be longer than the inhale, helping to promote relaxation.
  • Repeat until you feel centered and calm.

Learn more about the women’s health services at CentraState.

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