Menopause is a condition that all women will experience as they age. The term menopause is used to describe the changes a woman experiences as she stops menstruating, marking the end of her reproductive period.
The process of natural menopause—which is the term to describe the permanent ending of menstruation not brought on by any type of medical treatment—is gradual and is described in three stages:
• Perimenopause is a transition into menopause. Perimenopause begins eight to 10 years before menopause and the ovaries will gradually produce less estrogen. In the last one to two years of perimenopause, the decrease in estrogen accelerates. At this stage, many women experience menopause symptoms.
• Menopause is the point when a woman has her last menstrual period. At this stage, the ovaries stop releasing eggs and producing most of their estrogen. When a woman has gone without a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months, menopause is said to be present.
• Postmenopause are the years after menopause. At this stage, menopausal symptoms ease for most women. However, health risks related to the loss of estrogen increase.
All women going through menopause will experience hot flashes—a sudden feeling of warmth that spreads over the upper body that is often accompanied by blushing and some sweating. The severity of hot flashes varies among women from mild to severe.
Other common symptoms include:
• Irregular or skipped periods
• Mood swings
• Racing heart
• Joint and muscle aches and pains
• Changes in libido (sex drive)
• Vaginal dryness
• Bladder control problems
• night sweats and/or cold flashes
• anxiety, feeling ill at ease
• feelings of dread, apprehension, and doom
• difficulty concentrating, disorientation, and mental confusion
• memory lapses
• itchy, crawly skin, acne and other skin eruptions
• increased tension in muscles
• breast tenderness
• weight gain
• hair loss or thinning
Not all women develop these symptoms. However, women who are experiencing symptoms should visit their doctor to receive treatment options.
Menopause is considered “natural” when it occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. It is a normal part of aging. Menopause that occurs before the age of 45, regardless of the cause, is considered premature menopause.
Contact Dr. Simhaee to discuss your options of menopausal treatment.