If you’re a woman on the verge of menopause or one who has come through it already, you know how much change is involved. While you can seek treatment for some of these changes, menopause is not an illness. It’s a naturally occurring transition in a woman’s life. Menopause is something that affects different women different ways, but there are some common symptoms many women face, such as hot flashes and, of course, the absence of periods. Technically speaking, menopause is defined as the absence of menses for one year. But just because you think you’re experiencing menopause symptoms doesn’t mean you’re actually going through menopause.
Obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Tracie Traver says some women blame menopause for certain problems they’re having, whether or not they’re actually going through menopause. “Sometimes women will attribute issues such as irritability or lack of sleep to menopause,” Traver said. “The reality is most women won’t begin to experience menopause symptoms until they reach their 50s. Still, some women report symptoms even in their 30s and 40s. While experiencing menopause symptoms at that age isn’t common, it doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t happening, which is why it is so important for women to maintain those annual appointments with their doctors,” she explained.
Traver says there are many treatments available for women experiencing menopause. “For some women, treatment with hormones such as estrogen can be helpful,” she said. “However, there are other non-hormone treatments such as Brisdelle and Osphena, as well. Regardless of the treatments you take, it’s important to note that some treatments utilize uterine protective agents. These can protect the uterus from hyperplasia and cancer that can occur from receiving too much estrogen,” she explained. “Some treatments, such as Duave, utilize combinations of estrogen and non-progesterone agents to help protect the uterus,” she added.
“Ultimately, evaluation is key,” Traver said. “If you think you’re experiencing menopause symptoms, consulting your OB/GYN can help. In addition to the expected hot flashes and absence of a period, many women going through menopause report symptoms of irritability, vaginal dryness and trouble sleeping,” she said. “These all are issues that can be helped by consulting with your doctor. Together, you and your doctor can discuss the various treatment options available, and can find an individualized treatment plan that works best for you,” she explained. “Because menopause affects different women differently, not all treatments will necessarily be effective for all women, so the individualized treatment plan is a must,” she added.
Traver sees patients at All Women’s Care, located at 425 Blount Memorial Physician Office Building in Maryville. For more information or to schedule an initial appointment, call All Women’s Care at 865-681-0103.