Diagnosing & Treating Menopause Online
Menopause is the time that marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles and reproductive period, and is clinically defined by having gone 12 months without menstruation. Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s, but the average age that women in the United States go through menopause is 51. In addition to the physical symptoms listed above, menopause can also cause emotional symptoms, including:
- Sleep disorders/disruptions
- Lower levels of energy
- Emotional health changes
There are many effective treatments available, from lifestyle adjustments to hormone therapy. Every woman experiences menopause differently - you and your online doctor can help determine the severity of your menopause, what type of treatment is best for you, or if a referral to a specialist is required.
During a video consult on TelaCare, one of our board-certified doctors will ask you a series of targeted questions to determine the severity of your symptoms. Your diagnosis will be based on the duration and severity of your symptoms, as well as your medical history.
Once you’ve discussed your symptoms and concerns, your doctor will go over the risks and benefits of the various treatment options. Treatment for menopause varies patient-to-patient depending on the severity, but a consistent monthly treatment routine can help you manage and weather symptoms.
Options for treatment of menopause vary and may include some combination of medications and lifestyle modifications including:
- Hormone therapy: Estrogen therapy is an effective treatment option for relieving hot flashes. Depending on your personal and family medical history, your doctor may recommend estrogen, and will determine the best dose and timeframe for you.
- Vaginal estrogen: To relieve vaginal dryness, estrogen can be administered directly to the vagina using a vaginal cream, tablet or ring.
- Low-dose antidepressants: A low-dose antidepressant may be useful for some women, particularly if menopause is impacting your mood.
- Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gralise, others): While approved to treat seizures, this drug is useful in women who have nighttime hot flashes. This prescription cannot be prescribed online.
- Clonidine (Catapres, Kapvay, others): Typically used to treat high blood pressure, this drug administered in pill or patch form might provide relief from hot flashes.
- Medications to prevent or treat osteoporosis: Several medications, including calcium and vitamin D supplements, are available that help reduce bone loss and risk of fractures.
- Cool hot flashes: For many women, triggers may include hot beverages, caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol, stress, hot weather and even a warm room. Dress in layers, have a cold glass of water, or go somewhere cooler to combat these symptoms.
- Decrease vaginal discomfort: Use over-the-counter, water-based vaginal lubricants (Astroglide, K-Y jelly, etc.), silicone-based lubricants or moisturizers (Replens, etc.). Choose products that don't contain glycerin, which can cause burning or irritation.
- Get enough sleep: Avoid caffeine, which can make it hard to get to sleep, and avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can interrupt sleep.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Techniques such as deep breathing, paced breathing, guided imagery, massage and progressive muscle relaxation may help with menopausal symptoms.
- Strengthen your pelvic floor: Pelvic floor muscle exercises, called Kegel exercises, can improve some forms of urinary incontinence.
- Eat a balanced diet: Include a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and limit saturated fats, oils and sugars.
- Don't smoke: Smoking not only increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, cancer, and a range of other health problems, but also may increase hot flashes and bring on earlier menopause.
- Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity or exercise helps protect against heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and other conditions associated with aging.