World Menopause Day offers relief for millions of women

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - Thousands of women begin menopause every day in America, but for millions of women, the symptoms can be severe, even debilitating.

For most, menopause begins between the ages of 45 to 55 with symptoms lasting two to five years. That's when many women are in positions of leadership, have teens at home, maybe even care for elderly parents -- all added stresses.

To offer women relief on World Menopause Day, Dr. Michelle Warren, founder and medical director for the Center for Menopause, Hormonal Disorders and Women's Health, spoke to Local 2 via satellite from New York.

She said, "A couple of patients have lost their jobs before they came to see me. One patient who fell asleep at the wheel and had an ... accident because her sleep was interrupted by the night sweats and she had chronic insomnia."

Symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, night sweats, moodiness, muscle aches, joint aches and vaginal dryness.

For mild to moderate symptoms, experts recommend lifestyle changes such as maintaining a regular exercise routine and sufficient sleep schedule. Eating a low fat, well-balanced diet with foods with adequate calcium and vitamin D can help. Doctors also suggest avoiding caffeine, sugar, salt, alcohol, spicy foods and smoking.

Warren said that may not be enough for those with more severe symptoms.

She told Local 2, "In terms of prescription, the gold standard is still hormone therapy. It works very well. Usually within a couple of weeks, all of the symptoms either go away or go down to a tolerable level. We're using lower doses now. We're using them for a shorter period of time. So we've learned how to use them with very minimal risks."

Warren added that if a woman feels their symptoms are interfering with their quality of life, they should do something about it.

She said women should talk to a "menopause friendly" physician and do lots of research.

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