Although entirely natural, menopause can be a confusing time for women. Patients come to the Capital Women’s Care offices in Arlington and McLean, Virginia, to get personal and patient-centered care from some of the top women’s health specialists in the world. This all-women practice understands the challenges patients face during this transition and how to help manage the sometimes difficult symptoms. If you have hot flashes or other signs of menopause, call Capital Women’s Care to make an appointment to see what options are available.
Medically, menopause is the cessation of menstruation, but it’s more complex than it sounds. Although it's a natural biological process, it takes time to reach this point, and there are physical symptoms beyond just the lack of periods.
Some of these symptoms are quite uncomfortable, which is why talking to a specialist at Capital Women’s Care is essential. There are ways to ease into it without the suffering.
Some women start noticing symptoms in their 40s, but the average age of actual menopause is around 51. Technically, a woman isn't menopausal until she has missed 12 consecutive periods, and even then, some symptoms may continue. Signs of menopause include:
Not every woman has every symptom, either. Menopause is an individual transition, one that goes smoothly for some and is extremely difficult for others.
Perimenopause is the time before periods stop altogether. During perimenopause, it’s normal to skip periods and experience the occasional symptoms like a hot flash. Periods might seem closer together, too.
It’s important to keep in mind that pregnancy is still a possibility during perimenopause. We might recommend that patients who are sexually active continue to use birth control measures even though their periods are irregular or they show signs of menopause.
Menopause doesn't necessarily require medical treatment, but some women feel very uncomfortable during this time. Managing the individual symptoms can make life easier.
One of the specialists at Capital Women’s Care might suggest hormone therapy depending on your health status and family history. Long-term use of estrogen can put you at risk for cardiovascular disease or breast cancer, so its use is limited.
There are other options available to control the symptoms, such as low-dose antidepressants to manage mood issues and clonidine for the hot flashes. Lifestyle changes can help too, such as taking a yoga class or increasing exercise in other ways.