Hearing about the mood swings, hot flashes and irregular periods from other women, most of us don’t look forward to menopause. But Dr. Silvia Panitch, an internal medicine physician at Swedish Covenant Hospital, said it doesn’t have to be that way.
“You shouldn’t dread menopause,” she said. “If you’re prepared and healthy in the perimenopausal years, you’ll go into menopause smoothly, easily and happily.”
In fact, many women view menopause as a physical and mental transition on our way to healthy older age, when we can really settle in to who we are, what our lives have meant thus far and what our later years will be like.
That said, some of the symptoms that women experience during menopause are truly unpleasant — which is where Dr. Panitch comes in. From ages 40 to 50, pre-menopausal symptoms can include shorter periods, depression, fatigue, breast discomfort and endometriosis. During menopause, which starts around ages 50 to 55, we might experience some of the same symptoms, as well as hot flashes, loss of libido, vaginal dryness and insomnia. As we grow older, you can add osteoporosis (bone loss) to the list, too.
“There’s a lot of overlap of symptoms because it’s a continuum,” Dr. Panitch says. “You don’t just close the door and move on to the next stage of menopause.”
Fortunately, she said there are many natural and medical ways to manage fluctuating hormones and make this life stage much more comfortable.
When she meets with her patients, she carefully evaluates their individual situation and symptoms.
“We look at and measure imbalance — hormone imbalance, nutrient imbalance — and we decide how to cope,” she said.
Depending on the patient’s needs, Dr. Panitch employs traditional hormonal medicine therapies as well as alternative, natural regimens such as herbal supplements, vitamins, homeopathy, acupuncture and bioidentical hormones. She also looks closely at nutrition because alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine and spicy foods can exacerbate symptoms. Stress reduction and exercise are also emphasized to improve quality of life during menopause.
To hear more strategies from Dr. Panitch for coping with hormone imbalances and staying healthy and comfortable throughout menopause, register for her “Before, During and After Menopause” discussion at Galter LifeCenter on Tuesday, September 13, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The talk is ideal for premenopausal, menopausal and post-menopausal women.