What Is Menopause?
Perimenopause, the transition to menopause, usually starts in a woman’s mid- to late 40s. On average, women are in perimenopause for four years before their periods stop.
Menopause is the time when your menstrual periods stop permanently after twelve months in a row without bleeding or spotting.
The average age of menopause for women in the US is 51.
After menopause, you can no longer get pregnant. Your body makes much less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Low estrogen levels can cause symptoms such as hot flashes and can raise your risk for certain health problems.
Menopause Symptoms and How to Manage Them
Women experience the symptoms of menopause differently. Some common symptoms include:
- Irregular menstrual periods that may be heavier or lighter
- Hot flashes
- Sleeping problems
- Mood swings and/or irritability
- Urinary Incontinence
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness resulting in painful sex
- Loss of interest in sex
Decreased estrogen levels can also cause less noticeable effects that can have serious health consequences including:
- Bone density loss that can lead to osteoporosis which can cause your bones to weaken and break more easily.
- Higher cholesterol levels which can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Many women do not need treatment for their menopause symptoms. However, if you are bothered by your symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider. Together, you can find a treatment that is right for you. Some women find that getting more exercise and changing their diet helps, while others may need medicine to help relieve their symptoms.
ACTION ITEMS: If your menopause symptoms bother you, talk to your doctor about possible treatment options. Have your bone density and cholesterol levels checked to make sure that menopause is not affecting your health.