Diagnosing and Treating Menopause Online
Menopause is the time when a woman’s menstrual periods stop permanently, and she can no longer get pregnant. Menopause can happen in a woman’s 40s or 50s, but the average age for women in the United States is 51. In addition to the physical symptoms listed above, menopause can also cause emotional symptoms, including:
- Sleep disorders/disruptions
- Lower levels of energy
- Emotional health changes
There are many effective treatments available, from lifestyle adjustments to hormone therapy. Every woman experiences menopause differently - you and your online provider can help determine the severity of your menopause, what type of treatment is best for you, or if a referral to an in-person provider is required.
During a video consult on Amwell, one of our board-certified providers will ask you a series of targeted questions to determine the severity of your symptoms. Your diagnosis will be based on the duration and severity of your symptoms, as well as your medical history.
Once you’ve discussed your symptoms and concerns, your provider will go over the risks and benefits of the various treatment options. Treatment for menopause varies patient-to-patient depending on the severity, but a consistent treatment routine can help you manage and weather symptoms.
Options for treatment of menopause vary and may include some combination of medications and lifestyle modifications including:
- Cool hot flashes: For many women, triggers may include hot beverages, caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol, stress, hot weather and even a warm room. Dress in layers, have a cold glass of water, or go somewhere cooler to combat these symptoms.
- Decrease vaginal discomfort: Use over-the-counter, water-based vaginal lubricants (Astroglide, K-Y jelly, etc.), with intercourse and silicone-based lubricants or moisturizers (Replens, etc.) for general discomfort. Choose products that don't contain glycerin, which can cause burning or irritation.
- Get enough sleep: Avoid caffeine, which can make it hard to get to sleep, and avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can interrupt sleep.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Techniques such as deep breathing, paced breathing, guided imagery, massage and progressive muscle relaxation may help with menopausal symptoms.
- Strengthen your pelvic floor: Pelvic floor muscle exercises, called Kegel exercises, can improve some forms of urinary incontinence.
- Eat a balanced diet: Include a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and limit saturated fats, oils and sugars.
- Don't smoke: Smoking not only increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, cancer, and a range of other health problems, but also may increase hot flashes and bring on earlier menopause.
- Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity or exercise helps protect against heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and other conditions associated with aging.
- Low-dose antidepressants: A low-dose antidepressant can directly reduce the intensity and duration of hot flashes and night sweats and can be especially helpful to when menopause is impacting your mood.
- Hormone therapy: Estrogen therapy is an effective treatment option for relieving hot flashes. Depending on your personal and family medical history, your provider may recommend estrogen, and will determine the best dose and timeframe for you.
- Vaginal estrogen: To relieve vaginal dryness, estrogen can be administered directly to the vagina using a vaginal cream, tablet or ring.
- Clonidine (Catapres, Kapvay, others): Typically used to treat high blood pressure, this drug administered in pill or patch form might provide relief from hot flashes. This prescription cannot be prescribed online.
- Supplements to prevent or treat osteoporosis: calcium and vitamin D supplements can be crucial to help reduce bone loss and reduce the risk of fractures. Other medications are also used to treat osteoporosis once it has been confirmed through testing.