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Menopause and Perimenopause - Topic Overview

Do you need treatment?

Menopause is a natural part of growing older. You don't need treatment for it unless your symptoms bother you. But if your symptoms are upsetting or uncomfortable, you don't have to suffer through them. There are treatments that can help.

The first step is to have a healthy lifestyle. This can help reduce symptoms and also lower your risk of heart disease and other long-term problems related to aging.

  • Make a special effort to eat well. Choose a heart-healthy diet that is low in saturated fat. It should include plenty of fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, and high-fiber grains and breads.
  • Eat a nutritious diet and be sure you are getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D to help your bones stay strong. Low-fat or nonfat dairy products are a great source of calcium.
  • Get regular exercise. Exercise can help you manage your weight, keep your heart and bones strong, and lift your mood.
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol, and stress. These things can make symptoms worse. Limiting them may help you sleep better.
  • If you smoke, stop. Quitting smoking can reduce hot flashes and long-term health risks.

If lifestyle changes aren't enough to relieve your symptoms, you can try other measures, such as breathing exercises and yoga.

If you have severe symptoms, you may want to ask your doctor about prescription medicines. Choices include:

All medicines for menopause symptoms have possible risks or side effects. A very small number of women develop serious health problems when taking hormone therapy. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your possible health risks before you start a treatment for menopause symptoms.

Remember, it is still possible to become pregnant until you reach menopause. To prevent an unwanted pregnancy, keep using birth control until you have not had a period for 1 full year.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 30, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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