Whether induced by surgery or cancer treatments or resulting from natural causes, early menopause is a reality for many women under the age of 40. As women entering menopause early have lower estrogen levels than women who enter menopause later in life, their risk of future disease increases.
The conditions that induce early menopause may affect a woman's choice of available treatments. It's important to consult with a physician before beginning treatment in order to properly diagnose and understand the underlying cause. Read on to learn more about the treatments available for women experiencing early menopause.
Hormone Replacement Therapy for Early Menopause
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is considered to be one of the most effective treatments for symptoms of menopause. Hormone replacement therapy is often controversial. Implemented with estrogen alone or in combination with progesterone, HRT has been known not only to reduce symptoms but also to prevent osteoporosis in some women. However, many women are wary of hormone therapy due to potential increased risks of breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
Alternatives to Hormone Replacement Therapy
There are many alternatives to hormone replacement therapy, some of which include:
Eating a well-balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and avoiding caffeine, smoking, and excessive alcohol intake can help alleviate the hot flashes, disturbances in sleep, and mood swings caused by early menopause.
Hit the yoga mat, practice meditation, or receive a massage. Many women have reported relief from menopause symptoms just by utilizing these relaxing, stress-reducing techniques.
Vaginal moisturizers and lubricants
Available over the counter, these products can help relieve vaginal dryness and prevent painful sexual intercourse. They can be a very reliable, non-systemic alternative to hormone therapy.
Supplementing your diet with calcium and vitamin D can help preserve bone health before, during, and after menopause. Doctors recommend consuming a minimum of 1,000 mg of vitamin D and 1,200 mg of calcium each day.
Other prescription medication
In some special cases, drugs such as gabapentin or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been shown to help treat hot flashes. Before going down this road, it is important to speak to your doctor about the possible long-term risks and side effects.
Early menopause is something that many women must face. It's best to understand the treatment options available and choose the approach that's right for you and your body.
Click on the following link to read about other symptoms of early menopause.
- Love, S. (2003). Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press.
- Office on Women's Health. (2012). Menopause and menopause treatments fact sheet. Retrieved January 12, 2016, from http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/menopause-treatment.html