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Menopause & Perimenopause

Menopause and perimenopause occur at midlife and mark the gradual end of your ability to bear children. Body changes, hot flashes and mood swings are a natural part of this process. But if these issues are getting in the way of your busy life, help is near. Virginia Mason Franciscan Health delivers personalized services that ease menopause symptoms so you can feel your best.

What are menopause and perimenopause?

People often experience these conditions between the ages of 40 and 65. There is no cure, but treatment can lessen their impact.

  • Perimenopause happens before menopause when female hormone (estrogen) levels fluctuate.
  • Menopause occurs when there have been no menstrual cycles for 12 months.

Menopause and perimenopause care: Why choose us?

Our experienced team provides holistic services that optimize your overall health. You receive therapies that minimize menopause symptoms. We also prevent and treat other gynecologic conditions, like painful sex, that commonly occur in this stage of life. 

Highlights of our program include: 

  • Large provider team: Gynecologists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners deliver menopause and perimenopause services. They represent a range of care philosophies, making it easier to receive services from someone who understands your point of view. 
  • Focus on prevention: Your risk for certain health issues increases at midlife. These include breast and cervical cancer, heart issues and bone loss. We perform or recommend screening tests that detect these issues in their early stages so you receive timely treatment, if necessary. 
  • Convenience: We treat some menopause and perimenopause issues through virtual visits. You discuss your symptoms with one of our providers through our secure online platform. We then plan next steps, which may include an in-office exam, lab tests, prescriptions or specialist referrals.

Menopause and perimenopause care: What to expect

Our providers start with a comprehensive evaluation. We want to know about your health history, lifestyle and how menopause symptoms are impacting you. Our offices are a safe, nonjudgmental space where you can speak openly about your experiences. 

Menopause and perimenopause issues we frequently treat include:

    • Menstrual (period) health: Irregular periods, heavier or lighter flow, premenstrual symptoms that are more intense or postmenopausal bleeding
    • Female sexual dysfunction: Vaginal dryness, low libido or painful sex
    • Pelvic health: Pressure in your pelvis, difficulty controlling bladder and bowel movements or organs that slip out of their natural position
    • Fertility issues (in people trying to conceive): Difficulty getting or staying pregnant
    • Fatigue
    • Forgetfulness
    • Insomnia 
    • Headaches and muscle aches
    • Hot flashes and night sweats
    • Mood swings
    • Urinary tract infections

Treatments for perimenopause and menopause symptoms

The right treatment for you depends on your symptoms and their severity. Virginia Mason Franciscan Health offers more of the services you need, including advanced therapies that are not widely available. We consider your age and health history so that you receive the most appropriate options for your needs.

Treatment may include: 

  • Antidepressants, which relieve mood swings and other midlife health symptoms in people who cannot take hormones
  • Birth control to manage hormone levels and relieve specific symptoms, such as irregular periods and vaginal dryness
  • Fertility testing if you are trying to conceive
  • Hormone replacement therapy to treat hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness
  • Pelvic floor physical therapy, which strengthens muscles to address bowel and bladder issues, painful sex and pelvic discomfort

Midlife health preventive care services

Our services can help you even if you are not struggling with menopause or perimenopause symptoms. Regular checkups can optimize your health so you stay one step ahead of potential problems. We develop lasting relationships with patients, enabling us to anticipate your needs and coordinate services that meet them. 

Topics we cover during preventive visits include:

  • Birth control, such as whether you should still be on it and if you’re having any challenges with it 
  • Gynecologic conditions you have or had, including endometriosis and uterine fibroids
  • Lifestyle choices, such as whether you use tobacco, have sex with men or women and eat a nutritious diet 
  • Other medical conditions you have or are at risk for, such as diabetes, heart disease or ongoing aches and pains
  • Sexual health, whether you are experiencing discomfort during intercourse or could be at risk for sexually transmitted infections

Schedule an appointment

Find out more about our gynecology services in the Puget Sound area or make an appointment.