Frequently Asked Questions About Menopause
Print out these frequently asked questions and answers about menopause to discuss with your doctor.
1. Can menopause cause changes in a woman's voice?
The majority of women do not experience a voice change during menopause, although this may be a problem for some.
2. What can I do about facial hair I've developed as a result of menopause?
Although many women do not experience any additional facial hair growth, it can be a problem for some. There are a number of hair removal options available to you, including waxing, depilatories (liquids or creams that remove body hair), bleaching, prescription cream, electrolysis, and laser hair removal. Check with your doctor or a medical aesthetician to determine the right hair removal method for you.
3. Now that I've begun menopause, should I be concerned about birth control?
You will know for sure that you have experienced menopause when you have not had your period for an entire year. Until you have gone one year without a period, you should still use birth control if you do not want to become pregnant. After menopause, you should continue to practice safer sex techniques by using latex condoms to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections.
4. My hot flashes aren't as intense as the ones my friends describe. Is this normal?
While hot flashes (or flushes) are very common in perimenopause, not all women experience them, and not all flashes are of the same intensity. Hot flashes can be as mild as a light blush or severe enough to wake you from a sound sleep and be associated with perspiration (called night sweats). Most hot flashes last 30 seconds to five minutes. They usually disappear within a few years after menopause, but in some women they can continue for decades.
5.I'm perimenopausal and have been told I should be taking low-dose birth control pills. Why?
Compared to regular birth control pills, the lower dose of estrogen in very-low-dose pills may be safer for perimenopausal women. (Perimenopause typically begins several years before your final period.) While regular birth control pills contain 30 to 50 micrograms of estrogen, these low-dose pills contain only 20 micrograms.
6. What are some of the benefits ot taking low-dose birth control pills?
In addition to preventing pregnancy, the pills can often regulate heavy or irregular menstrual periods and may provide protection from ovarian and uterine cancer. The pills may also prevent bone loss, which can lead to osteoporosis. However, women with a history of breast cancer, blood clots, or heart disease, or women who smoke, should not take these pills.
7. Besides hormone replacement therapy, how can I treat hot flashes?
While hormone replacement therapy (HRT) relieves hot flashes for many women, there are other drug treatments that may offer relief. These include both over-the-counter and prescription therapies. Over-the-counter therapies include various vitamins, ibuprofen products, and soy protein found in foods.
Prescription treatments include:
- The blood pressure medications Clonipine (Catapres, Catapres-TTS) and methyldopa (Aldomet). Based on the side effects, these drugs are not recommended unless a woman has high blood pressure.
- Antidepressants such as sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), and venlaxafine (Effexor). (Note: Paxil may reduce tamoxifen levels)
- Other hormones, such as medroxyprogesterone (Provera) and progestin (Megace)
- Gabapentin (Neurontin), an anti-seizure drug that may reduce hot flashes