What are the different treatments available for menopause and relieving menopause symptoms? We outline a few different strategies that can help.
The first thing to do if you suspect you are beginning perimenopause or are menopausal is to book an appointment with your GP to discuss your symptoms and to decide on the treatments that will be best for you. It is however useful to have an idea of what is available ahead of time so you can make an informed decision with your GP in terms of what feels most suitable.
Menopause is a natural biological process that occurs in women when their ovaries stop producing eggs, which typically happens in their late 40s or early 50s. The symptoms of menopause vary from woman to woman and may include hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and sleep disturbances. Here is a list of some of the most effective treatments for menopause. Again it is important that you discuss each of these with your GP and get their input first. The science behind the menopause is continually changing and so it is important that you are armed with some initial research but then come to a solution with your GP (there has been some inaccurate reporting in this area too so it's best to ensure you are advised by a specialist).
Hormone replacement therapy: Hormone therapy (HRT) involves taking estrogen alone or combined with progesterone. HT is effective in reducing hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and other menopausal symptoms. The risks of HRT are small and usually outweighed by the benefits.
Testosterone gel or cream: If HRT does not help restore your sex drive, you might be offered a testosterone gel or cream. It can help improve sex drive, mood and energy levels. Testosterone is a hormone that is produced by the ovaries and your levels often get lower as you age. It's not currently licenced for use in women, although it can be prescribed after the menopause by a specialist doctor if they think it might help restore your sex drive.You can safely use this at the same time as HRT.
Side effects are not universal but include acne and unwanted hair growth.
Non-hormonal medications: Certain medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can help relieve hot flashes and mood swings. Gabapentin, a drug commonly used to treat epilepsy, is also effective in reducing hot flashes. Again you will need to speak to your GP to see if this is suitable for you.
Lifestyle changes: Simple lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep can help reduce menopausal symptoms. Nocturia can also be a source of losing sleep and waking up at night. To read more about nocturia check out this article.
Vaginal oestrogen: Vaginal oestrogen can be used to treat vaginal dryness, itching, and pain during sex. It's available in the form of creams, tablets, and rings. These treatments do not get into your bloodstream and only work on the area of your body where you've put them. You can use them indefinitely but symptoms usually come back when you stop using them.
Complementary and alternative therapies: Some women find relief from menopausal symptoms with complementary and alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, yoga, and meditation. However, more research is needed to determine their effectiveness. It is worth joining a support group to see what treatments other women have tried as alternative therapies are often suitable for one woman but don't feel effective for another.
It's important to discuss the best treatment options for menopause with your doctor, as the most appropriate treatment may vary symptoms, lifestyle and any existing health issues you may have. Remember you are not alone and there is support out there. Why not join our FB group 'Jude & Friends' which is full of women who are navigating bladder weakness, menopause and more!
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