What Age Is Considered Early For Menopause
If you reach menopause before age 40, that is considered premature menopause, says Faubion. This occurs in about 1 to 2 percent of women, she says.
Experiencing menopause at 40 to 45 years of age is called early menopause, and that occurs in about 5 to 7 percent of the population, so its safe to say that at least 7 percent of women are going to go through menopause early or prematurely, says Faubion. Menopause at age 46 or older is considered normal, she says.
Are Menopausal Women Specifically More At Risk For The Coronavirus
According to gynecologist Barb DePree, MD, COVID-19 is not likely to be a significant additional risk to menopausal women per se, but menopause is a time women begin to have increased risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, once they lose the protective effects of estrogen. These co-morbidities definitely increase risk for women who may contract COVID-19.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says age, heart disease, and diabetes can all increase your chance of being severely ill with the Coronavirus. More so, weight gain, which may be caused by menopause, can also complicate matters.
Frustratingly, for women in menopause, a decrease in estrogen could potentially cause increased vulnerability to severe symptoms. There is some investigational research data suggesting estrogen may be somewhat protective for women exposed to the Coronavirus, Dr. DePree says.
Menopause itself can therefore impact immunity, says Dr. DePree. Immunity is a complex issue that is impacted by multiple factors some of which we control, and some less so, she says. The hormone estrogen is shown to have a protective role in women, so women who are not on hormone therapy during menopause might be more at-risk than those without a decline in estrogen.
Menopause is also linked to cancer risk, as well as a decrease in T-cells, the immune systems cells that work to fight off cancer cells and foreign invaders, and which bolster the immune response in general.
How Will I Know If I Am Starting The Transition To Menopause
Sometimes it can be hard for you and your doctor to tell whether you are in perimenopause, the transition to menopause:
- Symptoms: Tell your doctor or nurse about any menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes or trouble sleeping.
- Irregular periods: Track your periods. Irregular periods may be your first sign of menopause.
- Hormone levels: Your doctor may test the amount of hormones in your blood if your periods stopped at an early age . Doctors dont usually recommend this test unless there is a medical reason to do so. This is because, for most women, hormone levels go up and down in an unpredictable way during the transition to menopause. So it is difficult to tell for sure whether you have gone through menopause or are getting close to it based on this blood test.
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The Reassuring News On Postmenopausal Bleeding
The analysis found that most post-menopausal bleeding is caused by a noncancerous condition, such as vaginal atrophy, uterine fibroids, or polyps. That information doesnt really differ from what doctors have historically thought about the incidence of endometrial cancer and bleeding, says Dr. Berkowitz. But it does finally put solid data behind those figures, which was missing in the past, he says. The researchers who conducted this study were looking for clues about postmenopausal bleeding and how it relates to endometrial cancer.
What Is Vaginal Bleeding
Vaginal bleeding can have a variety of causes. These include normal menstrual cycles and postmenopausal bleeding. Other causes of vaginal bleeding include:
- trauma or assault
- cervical cancer
- infections, including urinary tract infections
If youre experiencing vaginal bleeding and are postmenopausal, your doctor will ask about the duration of the bleed, the amount of blood, any additional pain, or other symptoms that may be relevant.
Because abnormal vaginal bleeding can be a symptom of cervical, uterine, or endometrial cancer, you should get any abnormal bleeding evaluated by a doctor.
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Causes Of Postmenopausal Bleeding
There can be several causes of postmenopausal bleeding.
The most common causes are:
- inflammation and thinning of the vaginal lining or womb lining caused by lower oestrogen levels
- cervical or womb polyps growths that are usually non-cancerous
- a thickened womb lining this can be caused by hormone replacement therapy , high levels of oestrogen or being overweight, and can lead to womb cancer
Less commonly, postmenopausal bleeding is caused by cancer, such as ovarian and womb cancer.
What You Can Do Right Now To Support Your Physical And Mental Health During Menopause And Coronavirus
Aside from consulting with your doctor about any potential health issues, such as heart health and diabetes, youll want to engage in healthy lifestyle activities that can help you stay healthier during menopause and during quarantine, when health issues are compounded by both loss of routine and chronic anxiety.
There are plenty of lifestyle modifications you can make to protect your body and keep yourself healthy especially during a pandemic when you need to stay healthy. This starts with maintaining social distancing and protecting yourself by avoiding crowds, as well as washing your hands and disinfecting your home regularly.
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Does The Age My Mother Reached Menopause Mean Anything
Most likely your moms age at menopause will provide a clue. When we look at the things that are the greatest determinants for when someone is going to go through menopause, genetics seems to be one of the most important things, says Streicher.
A womans race or ethnicity can influence when she goes through menopause, too, she says. Findings from the Study of Womens Health Across the Nation indicate that women of color tend to begin perimenopause and menopause at earlier ages than white women.
The question I always ask women when they ask when theyre going to go through menopause is, When did your mom go through menopause? because that is very often predictive, says Streicher.
Theres a lot of truth in that. You may follow what happened with your mother if she went through menopause early or late, you may, too, she says.
Certain medical conditions such as autoimmune problems, issues, and can make a woman go through menopause earlier, adds Streicher.
Hormone Therapy And Uterine Fibroids
The use of hormone therapy after menopause is associated with a greater risk for a fibroids diagnosis, as reported in a 2017 peer-review article of most studies to date. The risk of surgically confirmed fibroids increased up to sixfold in people using estrogen or combined estrogen-progestin therapy compared with nonusers.
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What Other Factors Influence When Perimenopause Starts Or When A Woman Reaches Menopause
New research published online on April 12 in Menopause, the journal of NAMS, looked at the various factors that may affect the age when natural menopause occurs.
They found that there are factors that do seem predictive of when a woman will approach menopause, such as higher and follicle-stimulating hormone levels, which weve known for a while,” says Streicher. Irregular menstrual bleeding and hot flashes were also indicators of earlier menopause, she adds.
One new finding uncovered in the research was around alcohol consumption. The authors observed that participants tended to increase their alcohol consumption when approaching menopause, making it a potential clue that the change was coming.
That makes sense, says Streicher. This can be a time of added stress for women, and we know that any can cause someone to drink more, she says.
Although this study didnt find a strong association with smoking, other research has indicated that smoking is related to early onset of menopause, says Streicher.
Postmenstrual Bleeding Treatment Options
Treatment options for postmenopausal bleeding will largely depend on whats causing your symptoms. Estrogen therapy can be used to treat conditions such as vaginal and endometrial atrophy. Progestin therapy, on the other hand, is used to treat endometrial hyperplasia.
Polyps can be removed during a hysteroscopy, or they might require surgery. Cancer and severe cases of endometrial hyperplasia can require a hysterectomy. If youre diagnosed with cancer, your doctor will discuss several options with you, including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and hormonal treatments.
As with most other conditions, the most important step when it comes to postmenopausal bleeding is to get an early diagnosis. Once you know whats causing your symptoms, you and your doctor will be able to discuss treatment options and decide on the best course of action for your individual case.
Discovering that youre bleeding after menopause can be scary, but in most cases, the underlying condition can be treated with simple therapeutic options. Ensuring your wellbeing and overall health should always be your main concern.
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Is Postmenopausal Bleeding A Reason To Worry
Menopause is the phase of your life when youre over the age of 45 and havent had a period for a year. It can be a little scary if youve gotten used to not having your period and are unexpectedly bleeding after menopause. However, not all causes of postmenopausal bleeding are serious.
No matter what, make sure to talk to your doctor about your postmenopausal bleeding. Regardless of whats causing your symptoms, youll need to go in for a checkup to get a definitive diagnosis.
Frequently Asked Questionsexpand All
Yes. Although its normal for periods to change as you near menopause, you should still talk with your obstetriciangynecologist about bleeding changes. Abnormal bleeding sometimes can be a sign of health problems. Its especially important to tell your ob-gyn if you have bleeding after menopause.
If you have any bleeding after menopause, or if you have any of the abnormal changes in your monthly cycle listed above, its important to see your ob-gyn to find out the cause. Many things can cause abnormal bleeding, including
Polyps are noncancerous growths that attach to the wall of the uterus. They also may develop on the endometrium . These growths may cause irregular or heavy bleeding. Polyps also can grow on the cervix or inside the cervical canal. Polyps on the cervix may cause bleeding after sex.
After menopause, the uterine lining may become too thin. This can happen when a woman has low levels of estrogen. The condition is called endometrial atrophy. As the lining thins, a woman may have abnormal bleeding.
The risk factors for endometrial cancer include
early age when periods started
older age at menopause
long-term use of medications containing high doses of estrogen
treatment with a drug called tamoxifen
certain tumors of the ovaries
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Symptoms Of Postmenopausal Bleeding
Many women who experience postmenopausal bleeding may not have other symptoms. But symptoms may be present. This can depend on the cause of bleeding.
Many symptoms that occur during menopause, like hot flashes, often begin to decrease during the postmenopausal time period. There are, however, other symptoms that postmenopausal women may experience.
Symptoms postmenopausal women may experience include:
- vaginal dryness
A doctor may conduct a physical exam and a medical history analysis. They may also conduct a Pap smear as part of a pelvic exam. This can screen for cervical cancer.
Doctors may use other procedures to view the inside of the vagina and the uterus.
What Causes Bleeding After Menopause
Bleeding after menopause is rarely cause for concern. It does need to be investigated, however, because in very few cases it will be an indicator of something more serious.
In about 90 per cent of cases, a particular cause for bleeding after menopause will not be found. This is not a cause for alarm, if there is a serious problem it will be identified through investigations. Most of the time, postmenopausal bleeding is caused by:
- inflammation and thinning of the lining of your vagina
- thinning of the lining of your uterus
- growths in the cervix or uterus which are usually not cancerous
- thickened endometrium often because of hormone replacement therapy
- abnormalities in the cervix or uterus.
These are generally not serious problems and can be cured relatively easily.
However, about 10 per cent of the time, post-menopausal bleeding is linked to cancer of the cervix or uterus and so it is very important to have it investigated.
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What You Can Do
Consider keeping a journal to track your periods. Include information such as:
- when they start
- whether you have any in-between spotting
You can also log this information in an app, like Eve.
Worried about leaks and stains? Consider wearing panty liners. Disposable panty liners are available at most drugstores. They come in a variety of lengths and materials.
You can even buy reusable liners that are made of fabric and can be washed over and over again.
A skipped period can also cause the lining to build up, leading to heavy bleeding.
Bleeding is considered heavy if it:
- soaks through one tampon or pad an hour for several hours
- requires double protection such as a tampon and pad to control menstrual flow
- causes you to interrupt your sleep to change your pad or tampon
- lasts longer than 7 days
When bleeding is heavy, it may last longer, disrupting your everyday life. You may find it uncomfortable to exercise or carry on with your normal tasks.
Heavy bleeding can also cause fatigue and increase your risk for other health concerns, such as anemia.
Menopause Reversal Restores Periods And Produces Fertile Eggs
Women who have already passed through the menopause may be able to have children following a blood treatment usually used to heal wounds
Never too old?
MENOPAUSE need not be the end of fertility. A team claims to have found a way to rejuvenate post-menopausal ovaries, enabling them to release fertile eggs, New Scientist can reveal.
The team says its technique has restarted periods in menopausal women, including one who had not menstruated in five years. If the results hold up to wider scrutiny, the technique may boost declining fertility in older women, allow women with early menopause to get pregnant, and help stave off the detrimental health effects of menopause.
It offers a window of hope that menopausal women will be able to get pregnant using their own genetic material, says Konstantinos Sfakianoudis, a gynaecologist at the Greek fertility clinic Genesis Athens.
It is potentially quite exciting, says Roger Sturmey at Hull York Medical School in the UK. But it also opens up ethical questions over what the upper age limit of mothers should be.
The age of motherhood is creeping up, and more women are having children in their 40s than ever before. But as more women delay pregnancy, many find themselves struggling to get pregnant. Women who hope to conceive later in life are increasingly turning to IVF and egg freezing, but neither are a reliable back-up option .
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When Does Menopause Usually Happen
Menopause happens when you have gone 12 months in a row without a period. The average age of menopause in the United States is 52. The range for women is usually between 45 and 58.2 One way to tell when you might go through menopause is the age your mother went through it.3
Menopause may happen earlier if you:
- Never had children. Pregnancy, especially more than one pregnancy, may delay menopause.4
- Smoke. Studies show smoking can cause you to start menopause up to two years earlier than women who dont smoke.5
Certain health problems can also cause you to start menopause earlier.
Menopause usually happens on its own. However, you may enter menopause earlier than you normally would if you have had chemotherapy or surgery to remove both ovaries. Learn more about early menopause on our Early or premature menopause page.
How Are Cramps After Menopause Diagnosed
If you have cramps after menopause, make an appointment with your primary care doctor or OB-GYN so you can find out whats causing them. Your doctor may do a pelvic exam to look at your uterus to see if there are any physical problems.
You might also need imaging tests to look inside your body at your uterus or ovaries. These tests can include:
- a CT scan
- an MRI scan
- a hysterosonography and hysteroscopy, which involve placing a salt and water solution, or saline, into your uterus so the doctor can examine it more easily
- an ultrasound, which uses sound waves to create pictures of the inside of your body
If your doctor suspects you have cancer, you may need to have a procedure to remove a piece of tissue from your uterus or ovaries. This is called a biopsy. A specialist called a pathologist will look at the tissue under a microscope to determine if its cancerous.
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Vaginal Or Endometrial Atrophy
As hormone levels decrease during menopause, the vaginal lining or the uterine cells may become thinner. This thinning is called vaginal atrophy or endometrial atrophy.
Vaginal atrophy often causes the vagina to become drier, less flexible, and more susceptible to inflammation or infection than before menopause. Vaginal atrophy may lead to:
- brown spotting
- bleeding after sex
The vagina may feel continuously uncomfortable, so a woman with these symptoms should speak to a doctor. A doctor may recommend hormone replacement therapy, as well as the use of water-soluble lubricants during sexual activity.