What is a Certified Menopause Practitioner?
Several years ago, the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) developed a competency examination to address the need for standards when treating women at menopause at beyond. NAMS Certified Menopause Practitioners (NCMP) help women navigate through the process of menopause, including perimenopause and postmenopause. Clark Professional Pharmacy offers consultations with our in-house certified menopause practitioner, who has helped hundreds of women with hormone imbalance.
What Is Menopause?
Menopause is a phase that all women go through, typically between the ages of 45 to 55, and is defined as the absence of menstrual periods for 12 months. However, some women may start going through menopause as early as in their 30s or as late as in their 60s. Symptoms include hot flashes, irritability, weight gain, change in sleep patterns, fatigue and hair loss. The process happens gradually and can take years, making it a sometimes long and difficult journey for many.
Ovaries are the mains source of estrogen and progesterone, which control ovulation. Before menopause (perimenopause), women may notice a change in their periods — such as heavy periods closer together, or skipped periods — until eventually they stop. During menopause, hormone level changes speed up and ovaries stop releasing eggs altogether.
Everyone’s symptoms are different — some women may be able to handle them with simple lifestyle changes, while some may suffer from severe symptoms that affect their quality of life.
Treatments for Menopause Symptoms
The treatment options are geared towards improving symptoms, and are customized for each patient. The symptoms most commonly treated include:
- Hot flashes — most women going through this transition report getting hot flashes. Treatments could include lifestyle changes (exercising, wearing lighter clothes, breathing exercises, etc.,) diet and supplements, hormone replacement therapy, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, and pharmaceuticals (low-dose antidepressant, for example.)
- Vaginal dryness — common treatments for dryness include lubricants, vaginal estrogen (tablets, cream or ring,) vaginal laser treatment, and vaginal dilators.
- Irritability and moodiness — lifestyle changes (exercise, meditation,) diet and supplements, hormone replacement therapy, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT,) anti-anxiety medication.
- Insomnia — depending on the source of the sleep issues, treatments may vary. If the insomnia is caused by hot flashes, then these should be addressed first. Other treatment options may include low-dose antidepressants, exercise and diet.
How a Certified Menopause Practitioner Can Help
During a consultation, the NCMP discusses the patient’s medical history and issues/symptoms, as well as any recent lab tests, current medications and supplements. Typically, it takes about 1 hour to go through the information and discuss treatment options. Items needed during your appointment:
- family history
- medical history
- current medications (if any)
- current supplements (if any)
- most recent lab blood tests done (if available)
- a list of symptoms or concerns
One of the benefits of having a trained and certified PharmD as a consultant during this process is that a pharmacist is very familiar with potential drug-drug interaction or any potential worsening of symptoms due to certain medications.
If you’re interested in setting up a consultation, give us a call or email us!