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Menopause is a natural process that simply means the end of menstruation. As a woman ages, there is a gradual decline in the function of her ovaries and the production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone that can lead to a variety of symptoms. Now, women have a place for multidisciplinary care and treatment options through UC San Diego Health System’s Menopause Health Program.
“The Menopause Health Program is the one place in San Diego for comprehensive, compassionate and customized care for women who are approaching or are experiencing natural, surgical or premature menopause.” said Kathryn Macaulay, MD, NCMP, coordinator of UC San Diego Health System’s Menopause Health Program.
Natural menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 to 55, and it becomes official when you have not experienced a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. Some women experience menopause at younger ages due to premature ovarian failure, cancer therapy or surgical removal of both ovaries.
The decline of estrogen can lead to symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, vaginal dryness and mood changes.
“Low estrogen levels also gradually affect the bone, and in some women, osteoporosis can develop,” said Macaulay. “We manage menopause symptoms with both hormonal and non-hormonal treatment options.”
If a woman has had a hysterectomy, then estrogen alone can be given to treat symptoms.
However, if a woman has her uterus, then progesterone needs to be given with the estrogen to balance the stimulating effects of estrogen on the uterine lining. Estrogen can be taken as a pill, applied to the skin as a patch, gel, cream or mist or applied vaginally in a drug-eluting ring. Progesterone needs to be taken orally for adequate absorption into the body.
“We spend extensive time with each of our patients discussing the symptoms of menopause and the best treatment option for them,” said Macaulay. “It’s important for women to know what their bodies are going through and that there is a place for them to get their questions answered.”
Menopause Health Program Services include:
For more information about UC San Diego Health System’s Menopause Health Program or to schedule an appointment with a menopause specialist, please call 800-926-8273.
The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) www.menopause.org
Pause online magazine, published by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Official Web Site of the University of California, San Diego.