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A Handle on Hot Flashes

Hormone Therapy Improves Quality of Life During Menopause

On average, most women in the U.S. enter menopause around age 52, but for many women, menopause hits a decade earlier.

When a woman enters menopause, her ovaries stop producing estrogen. Menopause is a part of every woman’s life, but sometimes its consequences, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, insomnia, loss of libido, recurrent urinary tract infections, bone loss and painful intercourse, can prevent women from living their lives to the fullest.

LaVern Rogers, 49, of Grand Blanc, MI, couldn’t get a handle on her health, experiencing dramatic fluctuations in body temperature, hair loss, hypertension, mood swings, low libidoand more. She was sleeping an average of four hours per night and kept a fan attached to the headboard of her bed because her body temperature oscillated between hot and cold all night. She experienced weight gain because of poor sleep. At the time, she didn’t know these symptoms were related to menopause.

Hormone therapy was a lifesaver.
— LaVern Rogers

“I couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong. I had no control,” says Rogers. “It all came to a head on Christmas, when I spent one hour crying in the bathroom during our beautiful family celebration.”

After her own physician did not offer solutions, she turned to the Northwestern Medicine Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause for help.

Rogers’ symptoms were typical of a woman in menopause. Her treatment wasn’t. There’s no such thing as typical treatment at the Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause, because every patient’s plan is carefully tailored to her individual needs.

“If a woman hasn’t found a solution for her menopause symptoms, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t one,” says Lauren Streicher, MD, medical director of the center. “We spend extensive time interviewing and examining patients, and going through the pros and cons of different options to come up with the best hormonal or nonhormonal treatment plan for each woman.”

For Rogers, this involved the “gold standard” for the treatment of menopause symptoms: hormone therapy. According to Dr. Streicher, hormone therapy is "a safe and effective program for women experiencing disruptive hot flashes, when prescribed appropriately by a menopause expert.” When you alleviate hot flashes, many secondary menopause symptoms, such as sleep disruption and mood swings, also subside.

Hormone therapy can be administered via pill, patch, spray, vaginal ring or gel, based on preference and medical history.

Within days of starting hormone therapy, Rogers started to sleep and feel better. Within two weeks, the hot flashes stopped. She and her husband found renewed intimacy. Rogers got her lifestyle back.

“Hormone therapy was a lifesaver,” says Rogers. “I’m calmer. I laugh more. I’m not as lethargic or irritated. My blood pressure has improved. All thanks to Northwestern Medicine.”