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Menopause

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Menopause (Aftercare Instructions) Care Guide

  • Menopause (MEN-oh-pawz) is a normal stage in a woman's life when her monthly period stops. It is also called the "change of life". Menopause starts when your ovaries (OH-var-ees) slowly stop making the female hormones estrogen (ES-troh-jen) and progesterone (proh-JES-te-rohn). A woman who has no periods for an entire year after the age of 45 is considered to be in menopause. After menopause, a woman is no longer fertile (able to become pregnant naturally). Going through menopause may take one to two years. However, symptoms may start years before menopause begins. This period leading up to menopause is called perimenopause (PER-i-men-oh-pawz).

  • You may have uncomfortable symptoms while going through menopause, such as hot flashes and vaginal (VAJ-i-nal) dryness. You may feel nervous, short-tempered, tired, or depressed (sad) while going through menopause. After menopause, you are more likely to have certain health problems such as heart disease and weak bones.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preventing and treating problems caused by menopause:

  • Preventing bone loss. You may need extra calcium and vitamin D to help prevent osteoporosis (os-tee-oh-poh-ROH-sis). Special medicines may also help decrease your bone loss. Ask your caregiver about the ways to prevent bone loss that are right for you.

  • Helping vaginal dryness. Hormone changes may cause vaginal dryness. Because of this, you may have pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse (sex). Over-the-counter vaginal creams and lotions can help decrease vaginal dryness. Only use creams and lotions that are made for vaginal use. Do not use petroleum jelly. Talk to your caregiver if over-the-counter products do not help you.

  • Feeling better during hot flashes. Hot flashes are brief periods of feeling very warm, flushed, and sweaty. Wear cotton clothing if night sweats are a problem. Layer your clothing so that you can easily remove some clothing and cool yourself during a hot flash.

  • Lowering your heart disease risk. Your risk of heart disease, blood clots, and stroke increases after menopause. The following are ways to decrease your heart disease risk.

    • Exercise: Getting regular exercise can help to slow down bone loss and improve your mood. Exercise makes the heart stronger, lowers blood pressure, and keeps you healthy. Talk to your caregiver before you start exercising.

    • Eat a healthy diet: Eat a healthy variety of foods. Your diet should include fruits and vegetables, breads, dairy products, and protein (such as meat, beans, and fish). Hot flashes may be helped by avoiding spicy foods, and things that contain caffeine or alcohol. Caffeine may be found in coffee, tea, soda, sports drinks, chocolate, and food bars.

    • Quit smoking: It is never too late to quit smoking. You are more likely to have a heart attack, lung disease, blood clots, and cancer if you smoke. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to stop smoking if you are having trouble quitting.

    • Control your cholesterol and weight: Lose weight if you are overweight. Check with your caregiver before you start any weight loss program. Decrease your blood cholesterol (ko-LES-ter-all) level if it is too high. Ask your caregiver for more information about a low cholesterol diet. You may need medicine if diet changes and exercise do not lower your cholesterol (amount of fat in the blood).

Wellness hints:

  • Have unusual vaginal bleeding checked by a caregiver. It is normal for your periods to slowly taper off while you go through menopause. Tell your caregiver if your vaginal bleeding is heavier than normal or happens too often. If you start having vaginal bleeding after menopause, tell your caregiver right away.

  • Continue birth control until your caregiver says it is OK to stop. It is possible to get pregnant while you are going through menopause. Continue to use birth control if you do not want to have a baby. You may need to use birth control until you have gone a year without having a period.

  • Control other health problems you may have. After menopause, your risk of new or worsening health problems is increased if you have certain other medical conditions. Work with your caregiver to control other problems, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

  • See a caregiver every year for a checkup. Have a physical exam at least once a year. You may also need a pelvic exam at least once a year. Other tests you may need include blood tests, a breast exam, a mammogram, and bone density testing.

For more information:

  • The National Women's Health Information Center
    8270 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive
    Fairfax , VA 22031
    Phone: 1- 800 - 994-9662
    Web Address: http://www.womenshealth.gov
  • North American Menopause Society (NAMS)
    PO Box 94527
    Cleveland , OH 44101
    Phone: 1- 440 - 442-7550
    Web Address: http://www.menopause.org

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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