Menopause Specialist in Houston, TX
Menopause may be a “natural” part of aging for women, but the symptoms it can cause can take a significant toll on the quality of life and overall health and wellness. Northwest Women’s Center offers menopause services and treatments aimed at helping women in Houston, TX, relieve bothersome symptoms and enjoy better health.
Causes of Menopause
Menopause occurs when the production of the hormones testosterone, estrogen and progesterone declines as a result of aging. Although these hormones are most closely identified with sex and childbirth, they influence other processes as well, and their decline can cause an array of symptoms as well as increase the risks of several medical conditions. A woman is said to be in menopause when she hasn’t had a period for 12 consecutive months. The time leading up to the complete cessation of periods is actually called perimenopause, and it’s during this time that symptoms develop.
What age does Menopause symptoms start?
Menopause symptoms typically begin in a woman’s 40s, with periods ending usually by age 55.
What are the symptoms of Menopause?
The most common symptoms associated with menopause include:
- reduced interest in sex
- moodiness, irritability or depression
- problems focusing or concentrating
- tender breasts or tender or itchy nipples
- hair loss on the head or hair growth on the face
- dry or itchy skin
- vaginal burning or itching
- sleep disturbances
- weight gain, especially in the belly area
Some women may have many symptoms while other women may have very few symptoms. Symptoms can also vary as hormone levels fluctuate.
What our patients have to say
"I've been coming to the NWWC for about 12 years now and still love it. I primarily go see Dr. McGuirk or Chantel Ashley and always receive amazing support from them. I never have any issues scheduling my appointments and always receive a timely call soon after my appointment with my results and to ensure I don't have any remaining questions. I have recommended this practice to close friends who have also loved their experience here. I have also never had any issues with the staff that greets you when you walk in, do vital checks, or checks me out before I leave." - Griselda B.
How Can I Counteract Vaginal Dryness During Menopause?
Vaginal dryness is one of the most common consequences of vaginal atrophy, the breakdown of the vaginal lining due to declining estrogen levels. Estrogen is involved in maintaining vaginal thickness, elasticity, and lubrication. When levels fall below a certain level, the vaginal lining becomes dry, thin, and inflamed. Dryness doesn't always localize within the vaginal canal, either. Many women who lose vaginal moisture also experience irritation externally, affecting the vulva and labia. Vaginal dryness is a frustrating problem because it can cause many symptoms. Painful intercourse is the one we hear about most often. However, vaginal dryness is also a primary cause of itching, urinary frequency, and recurring urinary tract infections.
There are a few ways to counteract vaginal dryness during menopause. One is to use a vaginal moisturizer. This type of product is inserted into the vaginal canal in the form of a suppository or cream. Another strategy is to use a lubricant to improve comfort during intercourse. The two types of products can be used concurrently. Clinically, a doctor may recommend an estrogen cream or tablet to remedy vaginal dryness. Vaginal rings may also work by releasing a low dose of estrogen over a three-month period. Women treated with bioidentical hormone therapy (BHRT) may not need to utilize any of these remedies. This is because BHRT addresses the root cause of vaginal atrophy by replacing estrogen with hormones that mimic those made by the body.
I've Been Having Headaches Lately, Can This Be Due to Menopause?
There is an interesting link between headaches and menopause that every woman should understand. For some women, menopause brings relief from chronic headaches. For others, headaches are just another frustrating symptom of this change of life. The culprit to what many women call "hormone headaches" is the drop in estrogen. When estrogen levels decline sharply, the body goes through withdrawals. Some women are so sensitive to changing estrogen levels that they suffer headaches every month at some point in their menstrual cycle. During perimenopause, when estrogen levels may be highly inconsistent, headaches may occur or may worsen. Interestingly, the conventional methods of dealing with headaches, taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can disrupt the pathways that are involved in hormonal headaches. As such, these remedies may provide little relief. It isn't the drop in estrogen that may trigger hormone headaches as much as it is the amount of estradiol that is in the bloodstream. Estradiol is an estrogen steroid hormone that can be boosted by bioidentical hormone therapy.
My Memory is Not as Good as It Used to Be, is This Aging or Menopause?
A decline in cognitive function is one of the most common complaints of women transitioning into menopause. Population-based studies indicate that 44 to 62% of perimenopausal women report a decline in not only memory but other cognitive functions. This happens because the parts of the brain that are involved in executive function, memory, and verbalization are particularly sensitive to estrogen levels. Research suggests that hormone replacement therapy can have positive effects on memory function and brain activity. However, timing matters. The sooner that critical hormones are optimized, the better the outcome may be. Some studies indicate that there is a window in which hormone replacement therapy can be safe and effective. Starting too late after menopause could have adverse effects rather than positive ones.
What is Induced Menopause?
Women who undergo the surgical removal of the uterus or ovaries, or who receive radiation or chemotherapy to these reproductive organs may enter a forced state of menopause. These women experience all of the natural symptoms of the transition, including difficulty sleeping, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and mood changes because their estrogen levels plummet after their procedure or treatment. Estrogen is directly involved in numerous physiological processes, making it a critical aspect of brain health, bone health, and cardiovascular health. The rapid drop in estrogen can result in severe menopausal symptoms. For this reason, women who are facing necessary treatment such as oophorectomy, hysterectomy, chemotherapy, or radiation should talk with their doctor about the value of hormone replacement therapy.
Can Any Homeopathic Remedies Help with Menopause Symptoms?
It is not difficult at all to find an abundance of natural remedies for menopause symptoms. Many of them involve herbs and plant-derived substances that have been used by women for hundreds of years. One example of natural menopause remedies includes fennel, which, when applied in the form of a vaginal cream, may help mitigate the vaginal atrophy that occurs as estrogen declines. Others include licorice root, maca, ginseng, and hypnosis. The benefit of natural remedies for soothing the symptoms of menopause is that they can be conveniently found. The challenge with them is that they are not regulated and are poorly studied. It may take months for natural remedies to work due to the way they are processed and their dosing. Bioidentical hormone replacement has been shown to alleviate some of the symptoms of menopause within one to two weeks.
Can I still become pregnant during Perimenopause?
Although fertility levels drop prior to menopause, a woman can still become pregnant and birth control should still be used to prevent unintended pregnancy. Once menopause occurs and periods stop, pregnancy cannot occur.
Can Menopause be treated?
There is no “cure” for menopause, but there are treatments that can be used to manage symptoms. Some treatments like vaginal lubricants or medications to aid in sleep can be used to address specific symptoms, but many women benefit from hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Routine blood testing can help ensure dosing remains optimized for each patient’s evolving needs.
What is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Hormone Replacement Therapy uses medications containing bioidentical hormones to replace the hormones that were once produced by the body.
What are the benefits of HRT for Menopause?
Bioidentical hormones are chemically identical to the hormones produced by the body so women have fewer side effects and risks during treatment.