What Is Premature Menopause
Menopause, when it occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, is considered “natural” and is a normal part of aging. But, some women can experience menopause early, either as a result of a surgical intervention or damage to the ovaries . Menopause that occurs before the age of 45, regardless of the cause, is called early menopause. Menopause that occurs at 40 or younger is considered premature menopause.
Symptoms Of The Menopause
As the decline in hormones oestrogen and progesterone during the menopause is typically quite a gradual progress, it often involves fluctuations along the way. As a result of these fluctuations, a number of symptoms can arise:
- Heavy periods, with a shorter cycle As a result of the fluctuating hormones, and higher levels of oestrogen your periods might become heavier and come more often than every 28 days.
- Irregular periods, lighter flow Irregular periods are common in the lead up to the menopause. Your periods may become lighter and disappear for weeks or months at a time
- Hot flushes and night sweats Hot flushes and night sweats are common symptoms in the menopause. It isnt exactly clear why this happens but it is thought that fluctuating levels of hormones somehow interact with the temperature control centre in the brain, the hypothalamus
- Low libido A combination of mood swings and vaginal dryness as a result of low levels of hormones can affect your libido in the lead up to the menopause
- Weight changes Sex hormones can influence other hormones which are important for regulating your body weight stress hormones and metabolism regulating hormones can easily come under fire
- Mood swings Decreasing levels of hormones can affect your mood mood swings or episodes of low mood arent uncommon.
You Might Start Skipping It Here And There
Dont freak out if your period goes entirely MIA one month. A skipped period is the first sign of deteriorating egg quality, says Dr. Dunsmoor-Su. Some months, the eggs just don’t reach a point where they release, and so a period gets missed. Remember: Youre not in menopause until you go a full year without a period, so skipping a month doesnt necessarily mean you can toss all your pads and tampons.
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Is It Normal To Have Longer And Heavier Periods During Perimenopause
Excessive bleeding and long periods are fairly common during perimenopause. Many women experience an increased flow and extended perimenopause periods before entering menopause.;
In fact, one in four women say that their periods are heavy enough to interfere with day-to-day activities, such as going to work or attending social events. According to University of Michigan researchers, 91 percent of women aged 4252 surveyed reported heavy menstruation for 10 or more days during their transition to menopause. This phenomenon occurred one to three times within a three-year period.;
There are various other health factors which come into play, including body mass index , use of hormones, and the presence of uterine fibroids.;
What Happens After Menopause
After menopause you will no longer be able to get pregnant and you will no longer get a period. If you have any type of vaginal bleeding after menopause, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Vaginal bleeding after menopause is not normal and can mean that you have a serious health problem. ;
You may experience any of the following after menopause:
- Low hormone levels. With menopause, your ovaries make very little of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Because of changing hormone levels, you may develop ,;including osteoporosis, .
- Menopause symptoms instead of period problems. After menopause, most women get relief from or menopause . However, you may still experience symptoms such as hot flashes because of changing estrogen levels. One recent study found that hot flashes can continue for up to 14 years after menopause.,
- Vaginal dryness. Vaginal dryness may be more common post-menopause. Learn more about ;for vaginal dryness.
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When To See Your Doctor
Heavy bleeding and unusual period cycles are common in women over 50. But if your symptoms interfere with your life and well-being, you should contact your doctor. You may be a good candidate for hormone therapy that helps balance your estrogen and progesterone levels, easing heavy bleeding and other perimenopausal symptoms.;
Bleeding can occur in women over 50 after they experience menopause as well. Studies show that this postmenopausal bleeding is usually caused by conditions like uterine fibroids or polyps. It can also be a sign of endometrial cancer, which affects 2 to 3% of women and is most common among postmenopausal women.;
Heavy bleeding could also be a symptom of another underlying health condition. Make sure to monitor your flow and see your doctor if you experience:
- Extremely heavy bleeding like soaking through a sanitary product hourly
- Consistent spotting between cycles
- Several cycles in a row that are shorter than 21 days or several days longer than usual
- More than three months between periods
When Do Periods Stop At Menopause
There can be gaps of up to 12 months between periods. You could go for 3-4 months without a period and the have a regular period for a few months
When having sex it is well advised to use contraception for up to 24 months after our last period. If you are having intermittent periods then you are most likely still ovulating and could become pregnant.
Changes in the monthly cycle are an indication that you are in perimenopause.;There is no typical pattern of change -;each woman can experience a combination of different symptoms.
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Your Flow Might Get Heavier
As your ovaries start their normal pre-menopause wind down, your period schedule will get a little wonky. Some months, the egg makes it to release on time and everythings fine, says Dr. Dunsmoor-Su. Some months, its a bit behind, and your period will be late, and some months, it doesn’t make it at all and you skip a month or two. When you miss an ovulation, the lining of the uterus continues to grow, so that when you finally bleed it tends to be heavier.
Missed Periods Intermittent Spotting Heavy Bleeding And Flooding
Changes in periods vary widely as hormones adjust. As mentioned in other parts of this site this is a time to really tune into your body and trust your instincts. As you can see from this list it’s hard to define what perimenopause periods are like:
Periods can disappear for a year and then return.
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Here Are Some Changes You May Notice In Perimenopause Periods:
- Fewer days or weeks in between periods
- Longer weeks or even months in between periods
- Worsening or improvement in PMS, cramping, bloating, etc.
- Changes in the color of blood may be redder, darker, or brown
You experience changes in your period because of fluctuating hormone levels, particularly estrogen and progesterone. Both hormones are produced in the ovaries under the direction of the pituitary gland in your brain. As women age, the ovaries begin to lose their functionality. That is, they become less able to produce estrogen and progesterone, as well as cease to release eggs once a woman is in menopause.
The hormone shifts that occur during perimenopause can be erratic because estrogen and progesterone levels begin to decline. However, it is not a slow and steady decline but is rather volatile, where estrogen levels can surge or drop rapidly at any given point. The overall trend amidst the hormonal chaos that can occur is that estrogen and progesterone will no longer be released from the ovaries, except estrogen in small quantities. After menopause, the majority of estrogen that you have in your body is released from fat cells.
Some women have an easier time managing perimenopause periods than others. However, almost all women will experience irregularity in their periods. Lets take a look at common challenges with perimenopause periods and discuss some tips for managing them.
What Are The Long
There are several conditions that you could be at a higher risk of after menopause. Your risk for any condition depends on many things like your family history, your health before menopause and lifestyle factors . Two conditions that affect your health after menopause are osteoporosis and coronary artery disease.
Osteoporosis, a “brittle-bone” disease, occurs when the inside of bones become less dense, making them more fragile and likely to fracture. Estrogen plays an important role in preserving bone mass. Estrogen signals cells in the bones to stop breaking down.
Women lose an average of 25% of their bone mass from the time of menopause to age 60. This is largely because of the loss of estrogen. Over time, this loss of bone can lead to bone fractures. Your healthcare provider may want to test the strength of your bones over time. Bone mineral density testing, also called bone densitometry, is a quick way to see how much calcium you have in certain parts of your bones. The test is used to detectosteoporosis and osteopenia. Osteopenia is a disease where bone density is decreased and this can be a precursor to later osteoporosis.
If you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, your treatment options could include estrogen therapy.
Coronary artery disease
- The loss of estrogen .
- Increased blood pressure.
- A decrease in physical activity.
- Bad habits from your past catching up with you .
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When To See A Doctor
Speak with your healthcare provider if youre experiencing any of these:
- Abnormal length of period
- Bleeding with intercourse
While these are common during perimenopause and usually not a cause for concern, its best to keep your doctor in the loop and notify them of any changes. Anytime youre unsure or concerned about perimenopause symptoms, speak with your doctor.
Your Periods Could Become Less Frequent
Before you reach menopause, your body goes through perimenopause, a transition time between normal periods and full menopause , which can last one to five years, says Rebecca Dunsmoor-Su, MD, an ob-gyn in Seattle. Perimenopause is a time thats characterized by irregular menses, which are usually more spaced out. As your hormones start to fluctuate, it can lead to scanter, lighter periods, adds Adeeti Gupta, an ob-gyn and founder of Walk In GYN Care in New York City.
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How Will Menopause Affect Me
Symptoms of menopause may begin suddenly and be very noticeable, or they may be very mild at first. Symptoms may happen most of the time once they begin, or they may happen only once in a while. Some women notice changes in many areas. Some menopausal symptoms, such as moodiness, are similar to symptoms of premenstrual syndrome . Others may be new to you. For example:
- Your menstrual periods may not come as regularly as before. They also might last longer or be shorter. You might skip some months. Periods might stop for a few months and then start up again.
- Your periods might be heavier or lighter than before.
- You might have hot flashes and problems sleeping.
- You might experience mood swings or be irritable.
- You might experience vaginal dryness. Sex may be uncomfortable or painful.
- You may have less interest in sex. It may take longer for you to get aroused.
Other possible changes are not as noticeable. For example, you might begin to lose bone density because you have less estrogen. This can lead to osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak and break easily. Changing estrogen levels can also;raise cholesterol levels and increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Talk to your doctor about possible for your menopause symptoms if they bother you.
What Happens At Menopause
Women are born with about a million eggs in each ovary. By puberty about 300,000 eggs remain, and by menopause there are no active eggs left.
On average, a woman in Australia will have 400-500 periods in her lifetime. From about 35-40 years of age, the number of eggs left in your ovaries decreases more quickly and you ovulate less regularly until your periods stop. Menopause means the end of ovulation.
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Changes You May Notice
Your periods become irregular.
This is the classic sign that you are on your way to menopause. Your periods may come more often or less often, be heavier or lighter, or last longer or shorter than before.
When you’re in perimenopause, it can be hard to predict when, or if, your next period may come. It’s also harder to gauge how long your period will last or if your flow will be heavy or light. It’s harder to get pregnant during this phase, but it’s still possible as long as you have periods.
You have hot flashes and night sweats.
Like so many symptoms of menopause, hot flashes and night sweats can vary a lot from woman to woman. They can last 1 minute or 5 minutes. They can be mild or severe. You can have several an hour, one a week, or never have them.
For some women, these symptoms go on for years or decades after they’ve stopped their periods — into the time called postmenopause.
Q When Should I Call A Doctor About My Perimenopausal Symptoms
If you have not had a period for 12 months and then experience vaginal bleeding, contact your doctor. It is not normal for bleeding to recur after this period of time. Read our article about when you should see your OBGYN.
Remember, perimenopause and menopause are natural and normal transitions, but they can be stressful. Many symptoms can be managed which can help you regain a sense of control, well-being, and confidence to thrive in your next stage of life.
We want you to feel supported, heard, and cared for as you go through this change.
Sometimes, the biggest help is simply confirmation that what youre experiencing is normal!
Dr. Ashley Durward;has been providing healthcare to women in Madison since 2015 and joined Madison Womens Health in 2019, specializing in high and low risk obstetrics, contraception and preconception counseling, management of abnormal uterine bleeding, pelvic floor disorders, and minimally invasive gynecologic surgery.
Can Menopause Be Treated
Menopause is a natural process that your body goes through. In some cases, you may not need any treatment for menopause. When treatment for menopause is discussed, its about treating the symptoms of menopause that disrupt your life. There are many different types of treatments for the symptoms of menopause. The main types of treatment for menopause are:
It is important to talk to your healthcare provider while you are going through menopause to craft a treatment plan that works for you. Every person is different and has unique needs.
An Introduction To Heavy Periods And Menopause
In the lead up to the menopause, known as the peri-menopause, many women experience changes to their normal menstrual cycle, including unusually heavy bleeding. This symptom is usually accompanied by irregular periods. A woman may go for several months without a period and then experience particularly heavy bleeding, or may find her periods coming thick and fast.
Aside from the obvious inconvenience of this, heavy bleeding may also lead to further health problems, such as anaemia. This is when there is not a high enough level of iron in the body. This can lead to extreme exhaustion and weakness.
While many women suffer from heavy periods in the lead up to their menopause, it is important to remember that prolonged bleeding should be checked by your doctor. Bleeding for longer than 1 week per month is not healthy.
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Bleeding Markers Of The Early And Late Menopausal Transition
At the turn of the millennium, the stages of ovarian aging were not yet understood. Recognizing the importance of clearly defining the stages of reproductive aging as well as of identifying valid, reliable and clinically useful criteria for the onset of each stage of the menopausal transition, the Stages of Reproductive Aging Workshop was convened in 2001. Based on a consensus discussion of scientific evidence, STRAW recommended that reproductive life be characterized by 7 stages. Prior to menopause, reproductive life was divided into the reproductive years and the transition years . Postmenopausal years follow the final menstrual period . Given limitations at that time in the scientific understanding of ovarian aging and in the availability of valid, reliable, and widely available assays, STRAW staging criteria were limited to menstrual markers and qualitative changes in follicle-stimulating hormone . STRAW characterizes entry into the early transition by increased levels of follicle stimulating hormone and increased variability in menstrual cycle length, defined as menstrual cycle length >7 days different from normal. Entry into the late transition was characterized by the continued elevation of FSH and the occurrence of >= 2 skipped cycles or amenorrhea of >= 60 days.