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Menopause is a normal biological event that occurs in all women. The average age of menopause in the United States is 51 years old; however, this age varies and can occur between 40 and 60 years old. It is diagnosed by loss of menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months.
The onset of menopause is affected by: genetics, illness, smoking, surgical removal of ovaries, and medications such as chemotherapy for breast cancer.
Estrogen and progesterone have critical effects on the reproductive system, urinary function, bone and mineral metabolism, cardiovascular function and memory and cognition. Lower levels of these hormones in the blood can produce unpleasant symptoms and can be treated in appropriate patients.
Women today are living longer and more productive lives. It is important for each individual to understand what can be done to promote optimal health during the peri- and post-menopause. It is during these times that women are at increased risk for osteoporosis, coronary heart disease, breast cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Prevention and early detection of these conditions are essential.
Symptoms of menopause vary from woman to woman but will probably include any or a combination of the following: hot flashes, libido or sexual health issues, vaginal dryness, mood swings
Perimenopause or the "climacteric" is the phase that usually precedes the menopause and usually lasts three to five years
Perimenopause can cause symptoms that are due to changes in estrogen and progesterone production by a woman’s ovaries. During this time a woman can experience the following symptoms: irregular periods, vaginal dryness, decreased libido, mood swings, depression, insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats, joint discomfort, urinary symptoms.
Treatments are available for these symptoms, but they are not for everyone and must be discussed individually with a provider in menopause health. These treatment options include: hormone therapy, low-dose oral contraceptive pills, lifestyle and dietary changes, phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogen-like hormones), acupuncture, therapeutic massage, mind-body therapies.
Dr. Wen Shen is a board-certified gynecologist who specializes in treating women with peri-menopausal or menopausal symptoms superimposed on other chronic medical problems. Dr. Shen works with a patient’s primary physician and will recommend non-hormonal therapies and possible alternative options to treat these women’s symptoms when possible. Dr. Shen obtained her medical degree at Tulane University School of Medicine, where she also completed a Master's degree in Public Health. She then did her residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Johns Hopkins Hospital, an is now a member of its faculty.
For an appointment with Dr. Shen, please call 410-828-3585.