Hormonal Changes & Symptoms
Are You Experiencing Menopause?
It’s More Than Hot Flashes
As we approach the later reproductive years, our bodies change in unfamiliar ways. These changes can begin as early as a woman’s 30s. When we think of menopause, we think, “hot flashes,” but women are now living up to half of their lives in menopause and the issues unique to this phase of life are many. At Menopause Solutions, we can answer these questions and others you may not be considering while providing a full scope of gynecologic care.
How long is menopause?
What is my breast cancer risk?
Can I improve my sex drive?
Why can’t I sleep?
Why am I gaining weight?
Why Am I so Tired?
Menopause is not a disease or disorder. Some women don’t have any trouble with menopausal symptoms and may even feel relieved when they no longer need to worry about painful periods or getting pregnant. For other women, the menopausal transition can bring hot flashes, trouble sleeping, pain during sex, moodiness, and irritability, depression, or a combination of these symptoms. Dr. Eustis discusses lifestyle changes, treatments, or medications for their symptoms.
Perimenopause means “around menopause” and refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause. Perimenopause is also called the menopausal transition. Women start perimenopause at different ages. The level of estrogen in your body rises and falls unevenly during perimenopause. Your menstrual cycles may lengthen or shorten, and you may begin having menstrual cycles in which your ovaries don’t release an egg. You may also experience menopause-like symptoms, such as hot flashes, sleep problems, and vaginal dryness. Treatments are available to help ease these symptoms.
Most women experience overall hair thinning rather than noticeable bald spots. The thinning can occur on the front, sides, or top of the head. Hair may also fall out in large clumps during brushing and showering. Research suggests that hair loss during menopause is the result of a hormonal imbalance. Specifically, it’s related to a lowered production of estrogen and progesterone. When the levels of estrogen and progesterone drop, hair grows more slowly and becomes much thinner. Hair loss may make you feel self-conscious about your physical appearance, but the condition isn’t permanent.
The hormonal changes of menopause might make you more likely to gain weight around your abdomen than around your hips and thighs. But, hormonal changes alone don’t necessarily cause menopause weight gain. Menopause weight gain can have serious implications for your health. Excess weight, especially around your midsection, increases your risk of many issues, including:
- Breathing problems
- Heart and blood vessel disease
- Type 2 diabetes
Excess weight also increases your risk of various types of cancer, including breast, colon and endometrial cancers.
Low Sex Drive
For many women in the menopause transition, a gradual decline in sexual desire does not have an important impact on overall sexuality and quality of life. For others, diminished desire and the rareness of sexual thoughts is a source of distress, undercutting their satisfaction with life and changing their sense of sexuality and self. If you are troubled by a persistent or recurrent lack of desire, you are likely to have what has been described as “hypoactive sexual desire disorder,” the most common sexual complaint among women.
As estrogen levels fall as women approach and pass menopause, the resulting dryness and thinning of vaginal tissues can cause penetration and intercourse to be uncomfortable for many women. The discomfort can range from a feeling of dryness to a feeling of vaginal “tightness” to severe pain during sex. After sex, some women feel soreness in their vagina or burning in their vulva or vagina. Over time, and without treatment, the inflammation that may result from infrequent sex without sufficient vaginal lubrication can lead to tearing and bleeding of vaginal tissues during sex.
Vaginal dryness can be a problem for many postmenopausal women. Vaginal dryness is a hallmark sign of the genitourinary syndrome of menopause, also known as atrophic vaginitis or vaginal atrophy. With this condition, vaginal tissues become thinner and more easily irritated — resulting from the natural decline in your body’s estrogen levels during menopause.
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About Dr. Eustis
Dr. Elaine Eustis is the founder of Menopausal Solutions. She is board-certified with the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is a North American Menopause Society Certified Menopause specialist.
A native of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, Dr. Eustis graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of South Carolina Honors College and subsequently completed medical school, residency, and was then on faculty at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. She practiced gynecology with a focus on menopause in Tennessee and Kentucky from 1996-2010 until returning home to the Charleston area in the Fall of 2010 where she has continued serving the needs of women in the Charleston area and beyond.
Dr. Eustis’ expertise in menopausal health spans 30 years, and she is recognized by her peers as a leader in the field of menopause.
What Our Patients Say
Dr. Eustis is the best. I've been seeing her for over 15 years now and I've even got my mom & some friends to see her. She is very caring and extremely gentle with care. She is the best. You won't go wrong with Dr. Eustis as your OBGYN.
Dr. Eustis is very thorough but cognizant of your time. My telemedicine session was on time and her nurse updated my chart prior to our meeting. During Covid, she discussed whether it was necessary for me to have some of my regular tests now or whether I could postpone them for a few months. I find her very easy to talk to. Her staff responds to a patient request the same day so if you need a medication or have a question, it is answered very fast.
I have been a patient of Dr. Eustis for over 9 years. She always listens to your concerns and explains your options in great detail. She gives you the information you need to make an informed decision about your care. The office staff always appear to be happy and friendly. Would highly recommend this practice to anyone.