A smiling older woman stands in front of a row of bright windows.


Treating menopause symptoms in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin

Menopause is a time of transition when women stop menstruating and adjust to different levels of hormones in their bodies. For most women, this phase of life begins in their forties. During menopause, women experience symptoms such as hot flashes, mood changes and insomnia. Even though every woman goes through menopause, everyone’s experience is different. It’s common to wonder if your symptoms are normal.

At HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, we specialize in women’s health care and are here to answer all your questions. We have the largest team of women’s health doctors in the Twin Cities, including OB-GYNs, certified nurse midwives and urogynecologists. You’ll find our expert care at more than 30 clinics in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, including the Park Nicollet Women’s Center. Our team will be by your side through menopause and beyond.

What is menopause?

As women age, our reproductive system slows down and we permanently stop menstruating. This cycle is called menopause and it can be a normal part of aging or caused by a medical procedure (induced menopause). During menopause, women may experience many symptoms, which can vary from person to person. Some of most common include hot flashes, night sweats, emotional changes and a decreased libido.

There are three stages of menopause: perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause. The symptoms women experience vary at each stage.


Sometimes called “pre-menopause,” perimenopause is the time your body transitions into menopause. Perimenopause starts about four to eight years before menopause. For some women, this phase can begin as early as 40.

During perimenopause, the amount of estrogen your ovaries produce will steadily decline but you’ll still get your period and could become pregnant. When you’re going through perimenopause, you might start to experience irregular periods, more severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS), mood swings and breast tenderness.


Menopause is when you no longer get your period. You’re officially in menopause when you haven’t had a period for 12 consecutive months.

At this stage, your ovaries are producing much less estrogen and stop releasing eggs, which means you’re no longer able to become pregnant. As estrogen levels decrease, you might experience symptoms like hot flashes, sleep issues, mood swings, vaginal dryness, weight gain, urinary incontinence and irritability.

The average age women experience menopause is 51-52, but some women go through menopause as young as 40.

Menopause is a natural part of aging, but it can also be caused by a medical procedure. This is called induced menopause and is commonly caused by surgically removing the ovaries, chemotherapy or radiation.


Post-menopause simply means “after menopause”. During this stage, you’ll still experience some symptoms of menopause, but these symptoms will be less intense and less frequent. This stage usually lasts for two to seven years but can sometimes last longer.

Menopause symptoms

Every woman experiences slightly different symptoms of menopause. Some women might experience symptoms more intensely than others, and some might experience very few symptoms. And the symptoms of menopause vary depending on the stage of menopause you’re in. Common symptoms include:

  • Irregular periods that eventually stop
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Mood changes
  • Night sweats
  • Hot flashes or chills
  • Dry skin
  • Loss of breast fullness
  • Lower libido
  • Sexual discomfort
  • Slower metabolism
  • Weight gain
  • Thinning hair
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Vaginal dryness

Your symptoms can help determine whether you’re in menopause

Doctors typically don’t need tests to determine if you’re in menopause. They’ll talk to you about when you last had your period, ask about other symptoms and give you a physical exam. Many women are able to determine they’re going through menopause without talking to their doctor just by paying attention to their symptoms.

Convenient options for managing and treating menopause symptoms

How you experience menopause is going to be unique. We offer a variety of care options so you can get help managing your symptoms in the way that works best for you.

Visit your OB-GYN clinic

An OB-GYN care team’s doesn’t stop at menstruation and childbirth. They can guide you from perimenopause to post-menopause with a personalized treatment plan for your symptoms.

Primary Care

Your care team is trained to provide expert care for all stages of life, menopause included.

Video visits

No matter which kind of care provider you choose, you can get the same personalized care, expert answers and tailored care plan without leaving your home.

Getting relief from menopause symptoms

While menopause is a natural part of aging, changing hormone levels can cause discomfort and lead to some health risks like osteoporosis and heart disease. We can help keep you comfortable and healthy by identifying the best treatment for your menopause symptoms. Common treatments include:

Hormone therapy

Since women’s bodies produce fewer hormones during menopause, one of the most effective ways to manage symptoms is to supplement the amount of estrogen and progesterone in the body if appropriate.

There are two main types of hormone therapy, systemic and vaginal.

Systemic hormone therapy

Systemic hormone therapy is the most effective type of hormone therapy. This type of hormone therapy uses hormone supplements that enter the bloodstream so they can circulate through the entire body (the whole system). It can help manage many different uncomfortable symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal atrophy. Systemic hormone therapy can also reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis.

Systemic hormone therapy typically includes a combination of estrogen and progesterone. Depending on your needs, your care team might prescribe hormones in the form of a pill, patch, cream, or vaginal ring.

Vaginal estrogen hormone therapy

Topical vaginal hormones, usually estrogen, are prescribed in vaginal tablets, rings and inserts. They contain lower doses of hormones than systemic hormone treatments.

Vaginal estrogen is most commonly used to treat vaginal discomfort and urinary incontinence caused by menopause. However, it’s not effective at treating other symptoms like hot flashes and mood changes.

Nonhormonal options for menopause symptoms and overall health

Nonhormonal medications and/or supplements may be offered to treat menopause symptoms and promote health as women age.

Examples include:

  • Vitamin D and calcium to support bone health and reduce risks from osteoporosis.
  • Antidepressants to regulate depressive symptoms, mood swings and hot flashes.
  • Neurotonin (Gabepentin) and Veozah (Fezolinetant) to help with hot flashes and night sweats.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)