Menopause--every middle-aged woman experiences it. Some even look forward to it. Technically, menopause begins with several years of declining hormone production in a woman's body. When she has not had a period for a full year, she is considered post-menopausal.

The physicians at Women's Medical Center in Dothan, AL want all patients in their mid-years to be fully informed on the changes that come with menopause. So, they have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help you with this significant time in your life--whether you are approaching it, are navigating it now, or are post-menopausal.

#1 When will my hot flashes stop? Commonly, hot flashes--or brief periods of sweating and feelings of increased temperature--occur before, during and even after menopause. While some women seek prescription treatments for the heat and sweating, many choose to wait for them to resolve--typically, within a year or 2 of getting that last menstrual period.

#2 Is weight gain inevitable after menopause? According to research done at the prestigious Mayo Clinic, a women's metabolism slows significantly in her post-menopausal years, resulting in weight gain, particular around the midsection. While many women struggle to maintain ideal weight during their 50's, obesity is not a natural consequence of "the change." Exercise and a healthy diet help keep off the extra pounds.

#3 Why is sex less comfortable than it used to be? With lower levels of progesterone and estrogen, the vaginal walls become thinner, dryer, and less flexible. A simple fix is the use of a personal lubricant, or if symptoms are severe, ask your Dothan, AL gynecologist about a prescription estrogen cream to thicken vaginal tissues.

#4 What can I do about my bone health? Ask your Dothan, AL gynecologist if a vitamin D and/or calcium supplements would benefit your bone density. Bone density tests are usually ordered around age 65 to pinpoint osteoporosis. Also, be sure to exercise regularly, and eat calcium-rich foods. Finally, stop smoking. The toxins in cigarette smoke contribute to heart disease, cancer and lung conditions such as COPD, and they also impact oral health and bone density. The physicians at Women's Medical Center partner with many of their patients as they undertake smoking cessation programs.

#5 I feel anxious. What can I do? Anxiety, depression and insomnia make menopause difficult for many women, particularly if they are too embarrassed to seek help. Simple lifestyle habits such as limiting caffeine and increasing aerobic exercise help even out moods and sleeplessness. With more severe symptoms, physicians may prescribe anti-depressants such as Paxil or Zoloft.

Live Well During and After Menopause

Drs. Young, Lazenby, Patel, Farmer, Scott and Gibson at Women's Medical Center desire to help each women through this important phase of her life. Be sure to schedule your regular check-up, and in between visits, contact the office with any questions or concerns you may have. Phone (334) 793-3900.