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Don’t Suffer in Silence, We Can Help with Menopause Symptoms!

menopause isn't slowing me down

Menopause doesn’t need to slow you down! Symptoms of menopause can be distressing and uncomfortable but we can help you cope and reduce your suffering. Don’t suffer in silence, talk with your VA provider about managing perimenopause and menopause symptoms today!

Menopause is defined as one complete year without a period. Many women start to experience physical and emotional symptoms several years prior to menopause which we refer to as perimenopause. Women can experience menopause at various ages but the average age of menopause is 51.  Just as the age range of menopause can vary from woman to woman so can the range, intensity, and duration of symptoms experienced.  While some women may experience little to no symptoms, other women can experience severe symptoms that can impact their quality of life.  This transitional phase may last 4 to 8 years. Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms associated with menopause and occur in up to 80% of women.  Some other common symptoms experienced during perimenopause and/or menopause can include:  

  • Night sweats
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Mood changes, mood swings, and forgetfulness
  • Vaginal dryness, pain with intercourse
  • Irregular menstrual cycles in the time prior to menopause
  • Thinning hair and dry skin
  • Weight gain and slowing metabolism
  • Loss of breast fullness

Depending on what types of symptoms you are experiencing and your treatment preferences, there are several different options for managing symptoms of menopause. There are many Lifestyle Modifications that can be utilized such as dressing in layers and in breathable/moisture wicking fabrics, avoiding spicy foods, limiting alcohol and caffeine consumption, avoiding hot beverages, do not smoke, use fans or open windows, maintain a healthy diet, and engaging in regular exercise.  

Some women are interested in Dietary or Herbal Supplements to help manage menopausal symptoms. A few commonly used herbal supplements include: evening primrose, dong quai, vitamin E, ginseng, and/or black cohosh. Post-menopausal women are at higher risk for decreased bone density so some women may consider adding a vitamin D and/or calcium supplement to their daily routine. Some women with difficulty sleeping find the supplement melatonin effective for managing their insomnia. It is important to discuss with your provider or pharmacist before starting any new supplements to review for any potential medication interactions.

Medications can also be used to manage specific symptoms of menopause including hot flashes, mood, vaginal dryness, and difficulty sleeping.  Some medications that have been shown to help with hot flashes and night sweats include: gabapentin, low dose antidepressants which can also help with improving mood (venlafaxine, citalopram, paroxetine, and escitalopram), and hormone replacement therapies.  To treat vaginal dryness, vaginal moisturizers and/or vaginal estrogen options available through the VA pharmacy. There are also medications available through VA pharmacy that can help with sleep. It is important to discuss with your provider or pharmacist before starting any new medications to review for any potential medication interactions, allergies, or medical history that could make certain medications contraindicated.

Alternative Therapies that have also been shown to help ease some symptoms of menopause including Mindfulness Meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi, Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy, and Acupuncture.

We offer many VA Resources and Programs that can support Women Veteran’s during this period of transition including:

  • Tobacco Cessation clinic that can support veterans who would like to quit smoking.
  • Integrated Care, Mental Health clinic can support Women veterans with mood concerns and provide support in decreasing alcohol use
  • Cognitive Behavior therapy for insomnia can help improve sleep issues.
  • VA Wellness and Whole Health programs offer yoga, tai chi, mindful meditation, biofeedback and many other wellness focused classes
  • VA nutritionists, Healthy Teaching Kitchens, and MOVE program can support weight loss goals and healthy dietary choices.
  • Community care consults for acupuncture services and pelvic floor physical therapy referrals
  • Primary care/GYN services

Don’t hesitate, reach out to your VA providers today to discuss all the ways we can provide support during this period of transition!

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