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Managing menopause at home

Perimenopause - self-care; Hormone replacement therapy - self-care; HRT- self-care

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Description

Menopause is most often a natural event that normally occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. After menopause, a woman can no longer become pregnant.

What to Expect at Home

For most women, menstrual periods will slowly stop over time.

Your menstrual flow may come to a sudden halt after surgeries to remove your ovaries, chemotherapy, or certain hormone treatments for breast cancer.

Symptoms of menopause vary widely. Some women have no symptom, while others have symptoms that are moderate to severe. Also, some women may have symptoms for 1 to 2 years, and others may have ongoing symptoms.

Common symptoms include:

Taking Hormones

Talk to your health care provider if your menopause symptoms are very bad. You and your provider can weigh the risk and benefits of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to see if this option would be right for you.

If your provider has prescribed HRT for menopause symptoms, take these medicines as directed. Ask your provider what you should do if you miss a dose.

When taking hormones:

Managing Hot Flashes

The following non-hormonal treatments can help you manage hot flashes:

Watching what you eat or drink can improve your symptoms and help you sleep:

Nicotine stimulates the body and will make it harder to fall asleep. This includes both cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. So, if you smoke, consider quitting.

A class of antidepressant medicines called SSRIs has also been shown to help with hot flashes.

Intimacy

Vaginal dryness may be relieved by using a water-soluble vaginal lubricant during intercourse. Do not use petroleum jelly.

Once you have not had a period for 1 year, you are no longer at risk of becoming pregnant. Before that, use birth control to prevent pregnancy. Do not use mineral oils or other oils if you use condoms, as these may damage latex condoms or diaphragms.

Kegel exercises can help with vaginal muscle tone and help you control urine leakage.

Continuing to have sexual intimacy is important to keep the normal sexual response.

What Else

Reach out to other people. Find someone you trust (such as a friend, family member, or neighbor) who will listen to you and offer support. Often, just talking to someone helps relieve some of the anxiety and stress of menopause.

Get plenty of exercise. It can help you feel healthier and will keep your bones strong.

You need enough calcium and vitamin D to prevent bone thinning (osteoporosis):

After menopause, a woman's risk for heart disease and stroke goes up. Ask your provider about what you should do to control your blood pressure, cholesterol, and other risk factors for heart disease.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your provider if you find you are unable to manage your symptoms of menopause with home care only.

Also call if you have any unusual menstrual bleeding, or if you have any spotting or bleeding at all 1 year or more after your last period.

References

ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 141: management of menopausal symptoms. Obstet Gynecol. 2014;123(1):202-216. PMID: 24463691 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24463691/.

Lobo RA. Menopause and care of the mature woman: endocrinology, consequences of estrogen deficiency, effects of hormone therapy, and other treatment options. In: Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Valea FA, Lobo RA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 14.

Skaznik-Wikiel ME, Traub ML, Santoro N. Menopause. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, de Kretser DM, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 135.

The NAMS 2017 Hormone Therapy Position Statement Advisory Panel. The 2017 hormone therapy position statement of the North American Menopause Society. Menopause. 2017;24(7):728-753. PMID: 28650869 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28650869/.

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Review Date: 4/14/2021  

Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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