Perimenopause and menopause are unique journeys for every woman, but maintaining an active lifestyle and seeking appropriate treatments can significantly alleviate symptoms and improve a patient’s quality of life. Physicians and Advanced Practice Clinicians (APCs) at Austin Regional Clinic are available to help make this transition as seamless as possible.

“Since childhood, I have been fascinated with health and the human body, and becoming a nurse practitioner in the medical field allowed me to have a more involved and personal relationship with patients. I love caring for women of all ages and stages in life,” said Kaila A. Smith, APRN, FNP-C, Ob/Gyn at ARC Bastrop and ARC South Ob/Gyn.

There are three recognized stages of menopause: perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause. Each stage has its own distinct traits and timeline.


Perimenopause, also known as the menopausal transition, is the period preceding actual menopause. It is marked by changes in the menstrual cycle, along with other physical and emotional symptoms. This stage can last two to eight years.


Menopause occurs when a woman goes 12 months without any periods, indicating that the ovaries have run out of hormones. The average age of menopause in the United States is 51, with some variation. This is the conclusion of the natural transition in a woman's reproductive life and the point where progesterone and estrogen production permanently decrease to low levels.

In the months or years leading up to menopause and during menopause, a woman might experience some of these signs and symptoms:
  • Irregular periods
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Hot flashes
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Sleep problems
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain and slowed metabolism
  • Thinning hair and irregular hair growth
  • Dry skin
  • Loss of breast fullness
  • Relaxation of the pelvic muscles
  • Sexual dysfunction, such as low libido and low estrogen
  • Bone loss (osteoporosis)
Complications of menopause:
  • Heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Changes in sexual function/libido
  • Weight gain

Postmenopause is the time after menopause when a patient has not experienced a period for over a year. In postmenopause, a patient will no longer have periods, but some women do continue to experience symptoms of menopause. Once a woman enters postmenopause, she is in this stage for the rest of her life.

How to treat symptoms

There are multiple options for women looking to treat the multitude of menopausal symptoms.

In the years leading up to menopause, hormonal fluctuations cause increased mood changes and may lead to weight variations, making it harder to lose weight. There are many natural remedies available, but none have been proven to be more effective than a placebo in studies. However, active women with healthy lifestyles, a good diet and a good exercise routine tend to have fewer symptoms during the transition.

For vaginal symptoms in perimenopause and menopause, there are various options. Estrogen is an effective treatment, available in different formulations. Vaginal moisturizers and over-the-counter preparations can also provide relief.

For night sweats and hot flashes, estrogen is a common choice. However, a newer treatment called Brisdelle, a lower dose of a depression medication, has shown effectiveness with fewer risks than estrogen.

Hormone replacement therapy is a popular option for most women in menopause, providing benefits for various symptoms, including libido.

If patients are experiencing symptoms affecting quality of life, gynecology physicians and APCs at Austin Regional Clinic are available to help through this transition.

Treatment and care offered at ARC:
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Nonhormonal treatment
  • Estrogen alternatives
  • Bioidentical hormones
  • Alternative medicine
  • Vaginal atrophy
“My main focus is to listen carefully to patients’ concerns and needs, so I can address their issues fully and efficiently. Educating my patients is important, and giving compassionate care, while providing evidence-based medical care, is always my goal,” Dr. Smith said.

Visit to learn more about menopause symptoms and treatments offered, find a location nearby and for scheduling options to make an appointment today.

The above story was produced by Community Impact's Senior Multi Platform Journalist Sierra Rozen with information solely provided by the local business as part of its "sponsored content" purchase through our advertising team.