Did you know that 50 million women are currently dealing with menopause in the United States? For how permeated menopause is (6,000 women enter menopause daily, to give you a scope), it seems as though menopause symptoms should be written on every other billboard (gender equality). If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms or just transitioning into perimenopause—the six- to ten-year symptom-laden time before the big ‘M’—you don’t need a billboard to tell you that you’re not quite feeling right. What you need that billboard to say is, “MENOPAUSE SPECIALISTS: NEXT FIVE MILES!”
Menopause occurs when the ovaries stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone, eventually causing the complete cessation of the menstrual period. However, hormonal changes and subsequent symptoms in a woman’s body start several years earlier, during perimenopause. Generally, women hit this change between 38 and 48. During perimenopause, periods become as unpredictable as a Real Housewife’s next move. They can be shorter or longer than usual, and lighter or heavier than usual. Symptoms are directly related to hormone changes in the body, and of over 34 possibilities, some of the most common are hot flashes, insomnia, night sweats, memory loss, vaginal dryness, unexplainable irritability, mood swings, weight gain and a sex drive lower than saggy pants in the ’90s. Other concerns, include osteoporosis.
Finding a perimenopause and menopause specialist can be a daunting task. How do you know you’ll be satisfied? What if you don’t agree with your specialist? With all the trash floating around the Internet, where do you even begin to look for one? Keep in mind this may not be the doctor that delivered your babies. First, check the Menopause Specialist Directory here on EllenDolgen.com. It has a list of specialists recommended by YOU—satisfied patients—and finding one is as easy as typing in your zip code. If you can’t find a specialist close enough in our directory, ask your friends or family if they have any recommendations, ask a specialist that you know excels in his or her field, use local media like magazines or message boards, or check the practitioners at the North American Menopause Society. The great thing about specialists is that if you’re unsatisfied, no divorce papers are needed to go on to the next one! (If you have a specialist you’d like to recommend that isn’t in the directory already, email his/her information to email@example.com !)
Because every woman’s body is different, experiences in perimenopause and menopause vary. The approaches to treatment are as different as ice cream flavors and even if rocky road works for close friends and family, you may be more of a neapolitan kind of gal. Depending on your menopause symptoms, specialists will recommend different methods (“I hope I get mint chip!). The most important thing to remember when entering this stage in your life is that you know your body best and you have the final say.
Start by tracking your symptoms on Ellen Dolgen’s Menopause Symptoms Chart so you can easily detect patterns in your body. Take it to your specialist to more accurately communicate your needs, and ask about these blood tests so you can more easily highlight your path to hormone happiness. It is helpful to educate yourself about perimenopause and menopause to help you understand your journey. You can find lots of helpful information here!
The intensity and duration of symptoms vary from person to person. For some women, these symptoms go away over time without treatment, and other women need to take a more proactive approach. There are several options available to women and with the help of a menopause specialist; you can find the right one. Unfortunately, there won’t be any billboards telling you which exit to take, but once you program your personal GPS, you’ll be living the menopausal dream in no time!