Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Each woman experiences menopause differently. Treatment, if necessary, is directed toward particular symptoms that are present.
Hot flashes are experienced by many but not all women undergoing menopause. A hot flash is a feeling of intense warmth, sometimes associated with flushing, that spreads over the body and may be accompanied by perspiration.
Often it is not simple to determine if a given symptom is due to menopause. A physician should be consulted regarding symptoms that are new or of unknown cause.
While "natural" menopause remedies may be effective, there is a lack of research on the safety and effectiveness of many of these remedies. Side effects of prescription remedies are generally better understood than those ofover-the-counter medications and "natural" treatments or remedies.
The most effective treatment for hot flashes is estrogen. However, the risks and benefits of this therapy must be carefully considered by a woman and her physician.
Other prescription medications, including SSRIs, may also be effective in relieving hot flashes.
Non-prescription products that have been used to treat hot flashes include phytoestrogens (plant estrogens), black cohosh, and vitamin E. However, studies that attest to their effectiveness and long-term safety are incomplete or lacking.
Introduction to menopause and hot flashes
Women frequently ask what symptoms they can anticipate during menopause. In reality, each woman experiences menopause differently. Some women have changes in several areas of their lives. It is not always possible to tell if these changes are related to aging, menopause or both. While one woman is certain that insomnia is a menopause symptom for her, another feels joint aches are her primary menopause symptom. Doctors find it difficult to communicate to their patients about menopause and what could be a host of uncomfortable symptoms. For example, medical science cannot explain how declining hormone levels during menopause could cause joint pain.
Menopause is not an illness, but a natural transition when a woman's reproductive ability ends. Yet many of the menopausal symptoms may mimic signs caused by diseases. When do women undergoing menopause need treatment in the first place? The same pattern of hot flashes in two women can have a very different psychological impact. For one woman, they can greatly disturb her daily functioning, but for another, while another may hardly be bothered.
Medical Author: Melissa Stoppler, M.D.
Dennis Lee, MD
Some of the symptoms of menopause can actually begin years before
menstrual periods stop
occurring. Doctors generally use the term "perimenopause" to refer
to the time period beginning prior to the menopause (when some of the signs and
symptoms of menopause begin to occur) up through the first year following
menopause. Menopause itself is defined as having had 12 consecutive months
without a menstrual period.
Menopause symptoms begin gradually while the ovaries are still functioning
and a woman is still having menstrual periods. These symptoms can begin as early
as the 4th decade of life (when a woman is in her 30s) and may persist for years
until menopause has occurred. The symptoms occur early because the levels of
hormones produced by the ovaries (estrogen and progesterone) decline slowly over
time as a
woman reaches her forties. The severity and duration of symptoms vary widely
among individuals - some women may experience only minimal symptoms for a year
or two, while others may experience at least some of the symptoms for several