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Menopause

Expert Advice: SOS! I Still Have Hot Flashes and Painful Sex at 68

Symptoms can last much longer than many doctors think.

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Here’s what experts have told us for ages: Menopause occurs between ages 45 and 55, and symptoms usually last a year. Here’s what we know: Menopause can happen earlier or later than that window (and it’s called early or late menopause), and symptoms like hot flashes and painful sex can last much longer than a year. What do you do when those symptoms don’t go away? Our expert, Dr. Barbara DePree, has a few tips to help you on your journey to wellness.

Meet our expert.

Barbara DePree, MD, is a gynecologist in private practice and director of Women’s Midlife Services at Michigan’s Holland Hospital. A Certified Menopause Practitioner, she is the founder of MiddlesexMD.com, an educational resource for women’s sexual health in perimenopause and beyond. To ask her a question, send an email to health@firstforwomen.com.

How To Deal With Hot Flashes and Painful Sex in Your 60s

Q: I thought hot flashes and painful sex would subside after menopause, but I’m 67 and still dealing with them, even though I haven’t had a period in 10 years. My doctor said it’s too late for me to start hormone therapy. Help!

A: Unfortunately, many women still suffer from these disruptive symptoms 10 years or more postmenopause. Generally, practitioners adhere to a window of within 10 years after menopause for starting hormone therapy (HT), since the risks of heart attack and stroke generally rise with age and if your practitioner determines you’re at an elevated risk, HT may be deemed unsafe. But women over 60 with no history of cardiovascular disease may still be candidates for HT, which can help tame lingering menopausal symptoms.

A natural option to combat vaginal dryness in the meantime? Vaginal suppositories with hyaluronic acid, which adds moisture to the vaginal lining and heals thinning tissue. A few to try: Revaree (Buy from HelloBonafide, $40 every three months) or the Kindra Daily Vaginal Lotion (Buy from Kindra, $34).

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A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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