Frequently Asked Questions related to
1. Will these symptoms last for the rest of
For most women, the symptoms of menopause
last for a relatively short time. However, a woman's level of
estrogen naturally remains low after menopause. This can affect
many parts of the body, including the sexual and urinary organs,
the heart, and the bones. So in that sense, the changes of
menopause will be lifelong. But eating right, exercising, and
making other positive lifestyle changes can help a woman feel
great and live a long, healthy life after menopause.
2. Is a change in sexual desire normal after
Many women say that their sexual desire
lessens during the time of menopause. In many cases, the cause
is physical. For instance, because lower estrogen levels
sometimes cause physical changes in a woman's sexual organs,
having sex may become uncomfortable or painful so it is
important to find out whether there is a physical cause for lack
of desire. For some women, taking hormones called androgens can
help restore sexual desire.
Some women find that sexual desire changes
because of how they feel about themselves during menopause.
Counseling and support groups can help women learn strategies
for coping with the physical and emotional changes that occur
3. What can be done to relieve pain during
Intercourse may be painful when there is not
enough moisture in the vagina or when the tissue lining the
vagina becomes fragile because of lower estrogen levels in the
body. Several methods are available to relieve pain during
intercourse. It may sound surprising, but frequent sexual
activity is one of the most effective remedies for vaginal
dryness. Other remedies include taking a warm bath before
intercourse or using lubricants. Short-acting, water-based
lubricants, such as K-Y Jelly, supply moisture and are used
immediately before intercourse. These products are readily
available in grocery stores and pharmacies, usually at a low
Long-acting vaginal moisturizers are also
available, and can provide extended relief. Vaginal creams
containing estrogen are very helpful in relieving the symptoms
of menopause, including vaginal dryness.
4. If I have a period on estrogen therapy,
will I also have PMS again?
Some women do experience PMS-like symptoms,
including swollen or tender breasts, bloating, nausea, and
sometimes even a blue mood. Some of these symptoms are linked to
mild water retention, and may be relieved by a mild diuretic.
Other things that can help include:
Reducing salt intake
Increasing exercise and activity
Avoiding caffeine and chocolate
Taking vitamin B6 or B complex
5. Since I began menopause, I've had an
embarrassing problem - urine leaks when I laugh or cough. What
can be done to prevent this?
Some women have problems with bladder control
after menopause begins. This happens because the muscles that
surround the bladder and hold the urine inside become weaker
when estrogen levels are low. Fortunately, simple exercises -
known as Kegel exercises - can strengthen these muscles. To
perform a Kegel, contract the pelvic muscles as if trying to
tighten or close the vaginal opening. Hold the contraction for a
count of three and then relax. Wait a couple of seconds and
repeat. Fast Kegels (squeezing and relaxing muscles as quickly
as possible) can also help. Performing several Kegels a day (try
for a total of 50 per day) can markedly improve bladder control
- and may even enhance sexual pleasure! Taking estrogen can also
help maintain the tone or strength of pelvic muscles.
6. My doctor has recommended hormone
replacement therapy, but I've heard that I'll have menstrual
periods again if I take it. Is that true?
Estrogen therapy may cause vaginal bleeding
in some women. This depends on the hormone that is selected and
the dose taken each day, as well as each woman's own unique
response to therapy. Often, estrogen is taken in a cyclic
regimen - that is, estrogen is taken for 21 to 25 days of the
month followed by several days without estrogen. After
menopause, low estrogen levels result in a thinning of the
uterine lining, which, in turn, stops the monthly period. Taking
estrogen after menopause thickens the uterine lining. This
lining is shed on the days when estrogen is not being taken,
resulting in vaginal bleeding similar to a period. About
two-thirds of women who still have a uterus will have a period
on the days when they are not taking estrogen. Similarly, most
women who take continuous estrogen (that is, estrogen every day)
plus progestin pills on some days of the month will have a
7. How will menopause affect my daily
activities and lifestyle?
That all depends on you. Menopause is a
natural part of life, not a disease or a health crisis. However,
menopause may occur when many other changes are happening in
your. For instance, your children may be marrying or leaving
home, your parents may be ill or dying, or you may be wondering
what you'll do when you retire from work. That's why it is
probably more helpful to think of how your daily activities and
lifestyle will affect menopause. For instance, making sure that
you exercise and eat right can make a real difference in how you
feel and can even help prevent some of the long-term effects
that are linked to estrogen deficiency (like heart disease or
Physical changes do occur with menopause and
with aging. But the changes that happen during this period can
be minimized by healthy living and a sense of purpose in life.
8. Even though my eating habits have not changed, I've gained
weight recently. Is that linked to menopause?
It may be. The body's metabolism changes
during and after menopause. Everyone's metabolism begins to slow
during the early to mid-30s. This change occurs slowly, so it
may take a while for the impact of eating habits to affect
weight. It is important to make a sensible, nutritious diet and
healthy behaviors, such as getting enough exercise, a goal for
9. I seem to be very forgetful lately and
I'm worried. What's happening?
Many menopausal women have problems with
short-term memory - like forgetting the location of car keys or
eyeglasses, skipping appointments they didn't remember, or
losing the end of a thought when speaking or writing. These may
be due to a busy lifestyle and/or stress at home or work.
Notably, several medical studies have shown distinct differences
in memory in women who have active ovaries producing estrogen or
are taking estrogen replacement therapy compared to women with
low levels of estrogen due to menopause.
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