Sunday, March 30, 2008

Do I Need Medical Treatment for Menopause?

At least 50 percent of women do nothing about menopause because they consider it a normal transition in life.

Women most likely to seek medical assistance during menopause are those experiencing severe menopausal discomfort or those at risk for developing serious health conditions that can occur during the middle and later years of life when hormone production changes. After a woman's body has made the hormonal adjustments, she faces post-menopausal changes in her body that may require serious attention in order for her to maintain optimal health into her later years of life.

Many women consult a physician when their menstrual periods become irregular in order to find out what's happening in their bodies; or, after their periods initially stop they wonder if they might be pregnant. (It is possible to become pregnant after your periods have stopped, so doctors advise that you should wait one year before discontinuing birth control.) Although a simple blood test can determine whether your body has menopausal hormone levels, blood hormone levels in many women become so erratic during the menopausal transition that menopause could be indicated by the test one week and the next week the results could be different.

Be sure to report to your doctor all discomforts or symptoms of abnormal health conditions you are experiencing, especially heart palpitations or bone discomfort. Now is the time to be very candid with your doctor about your personal health history and any medications you take--prescription and over-the-counter--and to discuss your genetic family health history in detail. This information provides a road map you and your doctor can follow to determine what your future health care needs may be, what preventive health care you may need, and what lifestyle changes may be beneficial. Various medical evaluations may be required to ensure that you are not at risk for serious immediate or long-term health conditions.

As your menopause proceeds, your doctor may want to schedule regular checkup appointments. The frequency of those visits usually depends on your current health status, your health risks, and any medications you are taking, including HRT if you decide it is the right choice for you. The average period of time during which a woman is aware of her menopausal transition is usually five to seven years, although some women may not know for sure when it starts or when it's over. After your body has made the hormonal adjustment, completing menopause, postmenopausal changes that occur in your body may require serious attention or lifestyle changes in order for you to maintain optimal health into the later years of life. The likelihood that you'll have postmenopausal health problems that could lead to serious disorders or disease is based on your personal health status, genetic family health history, lifestyle, and dietary habits before menopause, during menopause, after menopause, and into later life.

Note: When a woman's ovaries are surgically removed before she reaches natural menopause, she will go through menopause immediately.

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