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Menopause Services

Are You Experiencing Symptoms of Menopause?  

Hot flashes, trouble sleeping, mood changes, irregular vaginal bleeding, and vaginal dryness are all common symptoms of menopause. While these symptoms don’t necessarily require medical treatment, they shouldn’t be ignored. At Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, we can help!  

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Why choose Planned Parenthood for menopause care?  

We are the trusted experts in all aspects of sexual and reproductive health care.  

We’re here to provide you with the high-quality, inclusive, and compassionate care and information you need to stay healthy throughout your life. 

Discussing menopause can be an awkward conversation and many people do not bring it up to their primary care doctors. We’re here to talk out your concerns about painful sex, night sweats, and beyond to help you find the relief you need and deserve. Our health care experts may also suggest testing to make sure that none of your symptoms are related to a more serious issue. 

Is treatment covered by insurance? 

  • We accept most insurances including Medicare and Medicaid. If you need help getting insurance, we can help. 

 What is menopause? 

Menopause is the time in your life when you stop having periods because of hormonal changes. This usually happens in your late 40s or early 50s but may happen earlier.  

What happens during menopause? 

Born with a uterus and ovaries? Menopause is a natural and normal process that happens to you as you get older. Menopause usually happens between ages 45 and 55, with 51 being the most common age. 

Menopause starts when your ovaries stop making estrogen, and slow down making other reproductive hormones, like progesterone. Without these hormones, you stop getting your period and stop being able to get pregnant. 

If you’re between 45-55 and you haven’t had your period in a year, you aren’t pregnant, you are not currently using birth control and you don’t have a serious illness, you may be going through menopause. 

Not everyone goes through menopause because of aging. Sometimes other health issues kickstart menopause. If your ovaries are removed through surgery, you may experience sudden symptoms of menopause instead of the gradual change that usually happens. Medical treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can also make menopause happen early or suddenly. 

Your doctor or nurse can help you figure out if you’re going through menopause. They can also help you manage menopause symptoms.   

What is perimenopause? 

Perimenopause means the time leading up to menopause where you may have symptoms. This stage can last anywhere from a few months to up to 10 years, and is a process that may start, stop, and start up again. 

Perimenopause usually begins in your 40s, but it can start earlier, too. People who smoke usually start perimenopause 2 years earlier than nonsmokers. 

The amount of estrogen made by your ovaries starts to change in your 30s and 40s — it can go up and down. You may notice this is happening because your periods begin to change.  

Changes to periods during perimenopause is common and totally normal. 

Some changes you might notice include: 

  • The time between one period and another changing (either longer or shorter) 

  • Totally skipping a period 

  • Bleeding patterns changing during your period (heavier or lighter) 

  • Bleeding between periods 

  • Changes in menstrual bleeding are pretty normal during perimenopause, but it’s still a good idea to talk with your doctor or nurse about them. 

You can still get pregnant during perimenopause. If you don’t want to get pregnant, continue using your birth control method for at least a year after you have your last period. Your doctor or nurse can talk with you about stopping your birth control method and answer any other questions you have about perimenopause.  

Your body stops making some hormones during perimenopause and menopause. Taking them as medicine can help with symptoms and have added health benefits for some people. 

You don’t have to get treatment just because you’re going through menopause. But if you have hot flashes, problems sleeping, and mood changes that bother you, the treatment that works best is menopausal hormone therapy (MHT). If you want to treat vaginal dryness only, topical treatments (like gels and creams) that you put on your skin or in your vagina (like tablets) work well. 

Treatment Options: 

What is menopausal hormone therapy (MHT)? 

Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) works by replacing 2 hormones that your ovaries stop making when you’re going through perimenopause and menopause: estrogen and progesterone. They’re like the hormones in some birth control methods. 

There are two different kinds of hormone therapy: estrogen only, or estrogen with a progestogen. 

This is the best treatment for hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. People who had surgery to remove their uterus, called a hysterectomy, only need to take estrogen and don’t need to take combined hormone therapy. 

Combined hormone therapy:  

If you have a uterus, your doctor may prescribe combined hormone therapy. This is estrogen and artificial progesterone (called progestogen) taken together. Combined hormone therapy may lower your risk of getting uterine cancer and colon cancer. 

Hormone therapy can help with: 

  • lowering your risk of osteoporosis, colon cancer, and diabetes 

  • lowering your risk of heart disease if you start MHT within 10 years of menopause 

How do you take MHT? 

Some of the options for how to take hormone therapy are like the options for taking hormonal birth control. These options are: 

  • pills 

  • patches 

  • rings 

  • vaginal creams (best for people who only have vaginal dryness as a symptom) 

What are the side effects of MHT? 

Side effects of MHT, if you have them, vary based on what kind of hormone(s) you’re taking. Side effects usually don’t last long or need to be treated. They may include: 

  • bloating 

  • water retention in your arms and legs 

  • tender breasts 

  • headaches 

  • nausea 

  • irregular vaginal bleeding 

  • mood swings 

  • weight gain 

What are the risks of MHT? 

Hormone therapy can have some risks, depending on your personal medical history and your family’s medical history. 

MHT may increase your risk for: 

  • blood clots: if you take MHT by mouth; 

  • breast cancer: if you take MHT for more than 5 years or if you take combined MHT (estrogen and progestogen); 

  • heart disease: if you start MHT after age 60 or more than 10 years after menopause 

  • cancer in the uterus: if you take estrogen-only MHT; 

  • cancer in the ovaries 

  • gallbladder disease and gallstones 

If you have a uterus, you may take MHT with 1 or both hormones (estrogen and progestogen). If you’ve had a hysterectomy (a surgery that removes the uterus) you only need to take one hormone: estrogen. Hormones that you swallow in pill form increase some of these risks. 

If you’re thinking about taking hormone therapy, talk with the staff at your nearest Planned Parenthood health center. They can help you decide if the benefits are worth the risks. 

Are there other treatment options for menopause symptoms? 

People sometimes choose other methods of treating menopause symptoms if they’re worried about the risks of hormone therapy. 

Some other methods are: 

  • homeopathy 

  • herbal treatments 

  • acupuncture 

These therapies can have side effects, and research hasn’t proven that they're effective. So if you want to go in that direction, consult someone who’s skilled and experienced. They can help you decide if their method is right for you and help you do it safely. If you do choose one of these methods to treat your symptoms, be sure to let your nurse or doctor know. 

What if I don’t want treatment? 

You may choose not to take MHT. Depending on your symptoms, changes to your lifestyle or other medicines may help. If you need birth control and have hot flashes, combined hormonal birth control — like the pill, patch, or ring — may be the best choice as long as you don't smoke or have certain health problems. You can contact your nearest Planned Parenthood health center to talk about any of these options and get help with deciding what to do.  

Where can I get treatment or more information? 

You can contact the North American Menopause Society

More questions from patients: Are there natural remedies for hot flashes? 

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