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Menopause & hormone information

Menopause is a normal physiologic event defined by gradual failure of the ovaries and cessation of your menstrual period for 12 months. The average age of menopause is 51. If you smoke, it might happen earlier. If you've taken oral contraceptives, it might occur later.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of menopause are hot flashes, vaginal discomfort and dryness, weight gain, fatigue, depression, forgetfulness, decreased sex drive and sleep disturbances. Symptoms of menopause can start before your periods stop.

Risks & treatments

Menopause does not cause chronic disease, but it can increase your risk of osteoporosis, hip and spine fractures, heart disease and pelvic muscle relaxation. Taking calcium and vitamin D can decrease the risk of osteoporosis.

Treatments for menopause include hormone replacement with estrogen and progesterone (if you have not had a hysterectomy), soy protein supplements, SSRI and SNRI antidepressants, black cohosh and vitamin E.

Estrogen replacement is used to combat hot flashes, osteoporosis, and vaginal and vulvar atrophy. To minimize the risk of heart disease, stroke and breast cancer, you should use the smallest dose for the shortest amount of time.

Bioidentical hormones

Bio-identical hormones are identical in molecular structure to the hormones your body makes. These hormones are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, meaning the FDA cannot ensure their safety or effectiveness. Bio-identical hormones carry the same cardiovascular and breast cancer risks as standard hormone replacement.

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