Menopause occurs when women begin to experience the changes and symptoms that happen before or after they stop menstruating. They are not able to get pregnant because the ovaries no longer release an egg every month. Menopause is a natural process that every woman will experience but in some cases, symptoms will require treatment.
Menopause typically begins when a woman reaches her 40s or 50s. Symptoms may be more pronounced at the beginning of the process and can last a few years.
Perimenopause is the stage the occurs several years before a woman reaches menopause. The body begins to make less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. During this time, patients may experience the start of symptoms that will continue through menopause. If more than 60 days elapse in between menstruation, this may be a sign that a woman is nearing the end of perimenopause.
The severity of symptoms and how long they last during menopause varies for each woman. The most common signs of menopause include:
When nearing menopause, periods may become irregular in regard to how often it occurs, how long it lasts, and how heavy it is. Certain medications, including birth control, can help make your period more regular.
Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
Hot flashes are the most frequent symptom of menopause and can result in a feeling of heat, a flushed face or neck, or sweating. Many women experience night sweats, which are hot flashes that come on during the night, and can make it difficult to sleep. Avoiding certain triggers of hot flashes can help, like stress, caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, or tight clothing.
Changes in Mood and Memory
The changes in hormones can cause changes in your mood and can worsen existing anxiety or depression. Forgetfulness can stem from this additional stress. Women should contact a doctor if they have been feeling down for an extended period of time or think they are forgetting things too often.
The skin around the vagina can become drier during and after menopause because of the drop in estrogen levels, which can cause sex to be painful. [FemiLift is a treatment that stimulates new collagen to improve vaginal dryness.]
Postmenopause is the period after menopause when a woman hasn’t had her period for 12 months. The symptoms related to menopause gradually improve for most women. However, because of the lower level of estrogen, postmenopausal women are at an increased risk of certain health problems, including osteoporosis and heart disease. It’s important to continue to see your OBGYN for routine exams and tests even after menopause.
Stay on top of your health during the transition into menopause, and discuss any symptoms you’re experiencing with your gynecologist from Genesee Valley Obstetrics & Gynecology.