Goodbye, Aunt Flow.
- You good?
- Hormones or…?
- When it is menopause.
- Your symptoms, your plan.
- Expanding your care team.
You’re hot. You’re cold. You’re happy. You’re sad. You’re wondering, “What does normal even mean anymore?” The truth is this natural and gradual transition may not always feel natural and gradual to you. Let WHA’s specialists help you anticipate and manage your symptoms as you move through the transition to menopause.
One of the most important things we’ll cover at your wellness visit is what you’re doing for YOU. That starts with the wellbeing assessment you’ll complete in MyHealth before your visit. Of course, you don’t have to answer questions you’re uncomfortable with—but the more candid you can be with us, the more we can do to help. Eating healthy and being active play a big role in health and wellness, even more so as we age—but ultimately you’ll define what wellness means to you. We are here to help you achieve whatever that is. If you’re having problems reaching your health goals, ask your provider if a visit with one of our behavioral health specialists might be right for you.
Entering the late 40s, many people begin wondering if changes they’re experiencing are related to perimenopause. The short answer is: maybe. Mood changes, sleep disturbances, weight gain, vaginal dryness and declining interest in sex are all common concerns during this time and can be linked to hormonal changes. People in this age range can also have many outside stressors—raising teenagers, caring for aging parents, job and relationship stress—that can cause or contribute to at least some of these symptoms. Your provider will want to explore these issues and work with you on the best plan for managing your symptoms—now and into the future. If there isn’t enough time at your wellness exam, your provider may recommend a follow-up office visit to do a more detailed evaluation.
Menopause is defined as 12 months without a spontaneous period. In the United States, the average age of menopause is 51. To determine where you’re at in the transition, your provider will want to talk to you about whether or not you’re having regular menstrual cycles and other symptoms, such as discomfort with sex, hot flashes or trouble sleeping. If you’re post-menopausal, your provider will want to find out how you’re doing; are your symptoms manageable? Are you sleeping? Do you feel depressed?
About 20% of people will go through menopause essentially symptom-free. Another 60% will have mild symptoms and 20% will have more severe symptoms that seriously impact their quality of life. The good news is: if you have symptoms, we can help. Many people have heard for years that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) poses too many health risks. But there are more recent, respected studies that show the benefits of HRT in people under 60 can outweigh the risks.
HRT is not a one-size fits all remedy; if we recommend something that you find doesn’t work, we will work together to find the right solution for you. And, we’re not going to pressure you into HRT—there are non-hormonal options we can discuss to improve your sleep and quality of life.
While we would love to see you for everything, now is an important time to establish a relationship with a primary care provider if you haven’t already. We can recommend the most important health screenings and even take care of many of them for you in our office—but if an issue arises with blood sugar, cholesterol or something else outside our realm of expertise, we may need to refer you to a primary care provider or other specialist to help.
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Menopause is defined as the absence of spontaneous periods for 12 months. The average age of menopause in the U.S. is 52. Symptoms of the menopause transition (called perimenopause) can begin as early as 10 years before menopause and continue for several years after. Learn more >
Emotional health and wellbeing refers to our ability to cope with the stresses of everyday life in a positive way and recognize and manage negative emotions, like stress, anger and sadness. Emotional health is very important to physical health because when you’re not able to process negative emotions or manage stress, it can impact sleep or lead to unhealthy coping strategies—such as substance abuse, emotional eating, etc. If you’re having a hard time sleeping, your relationships are suffering or you’d like help finding healthier coping strategies, talk to your provider about a referral to one of our behavioral health specialists.
The desire for sex can naturally fluctuate over the years and can be affected by many things, including puberty, pregnancy, menopause, illness, medications, relationships and life circumstances, among other things. If you have questions or concerns about your sex drive, talk to your provider.
Breast health is about more than just getting mammograms! You should also be familiar with how your breasts look and feel normally and know your family history of breast cancer. It’s also important to understand the daily steps you can take to reduce your risk of breast cancer, including getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy body weight–especially after menopause–and limiting alcohol consumption.
Sometimes your risk of developing a disease–such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes–is linked to family history or genetics. But there are often steps you can take to reduce your risk. (The fancy term for this is “modifiable risk factors.”) Examples of modifiable risk factors include not smoking, not drinking alcohol excessively, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol. Talk to your clinician about your health and family history and what you can do to minimize your risk.
A website to compare the cost of prescription medications.
A website by the National Institutes for Health to help you make informed decisions about ways to supplement your traditional healthcare.
A searchable database of current medical information for both patients and providers.
The website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – this is a great resource for vaccination and disease screening and prevention recommendations.
Articles and other resources on menopause.
A good resource for articles on sex after 40. Also includes various products, but this is not a specific endorsement of those.
A great resource from the American Urogynecologic Society for women experiencing pelvic floor disorders, including bladder and bowel control issues and pelvic organ prolapse.
On online resource and forum for women having bleeding issues, fibroids, pelvic pain, etc.
Articles, fact sheets, resources and infographics on staying healthy throughout your life from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Excellent breastfeeding information!