Ovary Pain During Menopause: Should You Worry And When To See Your Doctor
If your periods have stopped, ovary pain during menopause is likely from another cause.
Menopause is that time of life when your periods end because your body stops producing the female hormone estrogen. Youve experienced cramps and pain around the uterus and ovaries for years because of physiological changes that cause the shedding of the lining of the uterus.
Most women welcome menopause symptoms as it means an end to all that discomfort. But what if you are continuing to have cramps and ovary pain? If your periods have stopped, ovary pain during menopause is likely from another cause.
None Of My Friends Were Talking Openly About The Perimenopausal Transition That Was Impacting My Life
This story is part of our Real Women, Real Stories series, documenting the lived experiences of women along their health journeys. Please always consult your health care professional with personal concerns or questions.
Over the past few years, I’ve become convinced that tiny hormone cartoon figures have overtaken my body, especially my menstrual cycle.
Well, that’s not exactly true, but about six years ago, my period started to change drastically. Now, at 52, I’m in full-swing perimenopause. I’ve researched hormone depletion and learned that as our ovaries age, they release fewer hormones, meaning poor regulation of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. This depletion has thrown me into menstrual chaos.
For over a decade, my cycles were 22 to 24 days long. Too short, but at least blessedly predictable. Then out of nowhere, in 2014, I started having 16-day to 24-day cycles. I had no idea what was going on and thought it was just bad luck. After some Googling, I realized that menstrual irregularity was a prominent sign of perimenopause. My mother had a hysterectomy when she was in her early 40s, so I had no clue when menopause might hit for me. None of my friends were talking openly about the transition that was impacting my life.
Not only has the duration between my cycles changed, but the cramp intensity has as well. Now, in perimenopause, my cramps are so painful I have to take twice as much acetaminophen as before just to make it through the day.
Menopause Will Not Cause Ovarian Cancer But Your Risk Increases During This Period Of Time Learn The Cancer Symptoms To Detect It Early
Developing ovarian cancer becomes more of a risk after menopause, even though this transition isnt considered a cause of cancer. Symptoms for ovarian cancer can be difficult to discern from other conditions. Early symptoms can be regular bloating, abdominal pain or persistent pelvic pain as well as trouble with eating. There are several cases where it isnt diagnosed until the cancer is in other organs as well. Its important to get an early diagnosis to better treat the disease.
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Treating Post Menopause Bleeding
If you have postmenopausal bleeding it is important to have it investigated.
You will most likely be referred to a gynaecologist who may:
- ask you questions about the history of your health
- examine you
- do a blood test
- look at the inside of your vagina and cervix using special tongs . At the same time, they may take a tiny sample of your cervix for testing .
The kind of treatment you have will depend on what is causing the bleeding.
- Atrophic vaginitis and thinning of the endometrium are usually treated with drugs that work like the hormone oestrogen. These can come as a tablet, vaginal gel or creams, skin patches, or a soft flexible ring which is put inside your vagina and slowly releases the medication.
- Polyps are usually removed with surgery. Depending on their size and location, they may be removed in a day clinic using a local anaesthetic or you may need to go to hospital to have a general anaesthetic.
- Thickening of the endometrium is usually treated with medications that work like the hormone progesterone and/or surgery to remove the thickening.
Before treatment there are a number of tests and investigations your gynaecologist may recommend.
All treatments should be discussed with you so that you know why a particular treatment or test is being done over another.
Can Menopause Affect My Sex Life
After menopause, your body has less estrogen. This major change in your hormonal balance can affect your sex life. Many menopausal women may notice that theyre not as easily aroused as before. Sometimes, women also may be less sensitive to touch and other physical contact than before menopause.
These feelings, coupled with the other emotional changes you may be experiencing, can all lead to a decreased interest in sex. Keep in mind that your body is going through a lot of change during menopause. Some of the other factors that can play a role in a decreased sex drive can include:
- Having bladder control problems.
- Having trouble sleeping through the night.
- Experiencing stress, anxiety or depression.
- Coping with other medical conditions and medications.
All of these factors can disrupt your life and even cause tension in your relationship. In addition to these changes, the lower levels of estrogen in your body can actually cause a decrease in the blood supply to the vagina. This can cause dryness. When you dont have the right amount of lubrication in the vagina, it can be thin, pale and dry. This can lead to painful intercourse.
Back Pain In Women In The Perimenopausal Period
PubMed databases were investigated. After the search was narrowed to menopausal status, back pain, 35 studies were found.
The selected studies were analyzed to verify whether they described the perimenopausal period of life, correlated back pain and menopausal status, divided the study group into sub-groups depending on the menopausal status .
Twenty-eight papers were excluded due to lack of information about back pain and menopausal status. Seven studies, which suited our area of research best, were thoroughly analyzed.
Most studies divided women into five groups:
Premenopausal women who had had a regular period in the past three months.
Early perimenopausal women who had an irregular period in the past three months.
Late perimenopausal women who had menstruated irregularly in the last 12 months but not in the last 3 months.
Postmenopausal women who had not menstruated in the last 12 months.
A separate group of women who have hormone replacement therapy.
All analyzed studies showed that women who are experiencing or experienced menopause suffered from increased joint and spine pain.
A long-term study by Szoeke et al. established that in the period of 8 years, the number of women suffering from back pain grew from 44% to 59%. Most women who took part in this study went from the premenopausal to postmenopausal stage during the study. The authors of the study also noticed a direct association between increased BMI and increased spine pain.
Will I Still Enjoy Sex After Menopause
You should still be able to enjoy sex after menopause. Sometimes, decreased sex drive is related to discomfort and painful intercourse. After treating the source of this pain , many women are able to enjoy intimacy again. Hormone therapy can also help many women. If you are having difficulties enjoying sex after menopause, talk to your healthcare provider.
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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.
Can My Diet Affect How Well I Sleep
The following tips can help reduce sleep problems:
- Eat regular meals at regular times.
- Avoid late-night meals and heavy late-night snacks.
- Limit caffeine, which is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and cola drinks. Caffeine stays in the bloodstream for up to 6 hours and can interfere with sleep.
- Avoid alcohol. It may make you feel sleepy, but it actually affects the cycle of REM and non-REM sleep. This may cause you to wake up throughout the night.
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How Can You Alleviate Perimenopausal Symptoms
Some women deal with the symptoms of perimenopause, and some women seek treatment for specific health concerns. Women with heavy bleeding, periods that last longer than seven days, spotting between periods or cycles that are less than 21 days should contact a doctor.
Typically, perimenopause is a gradual transition, and no particular test indicates what is happening to the body. Hormone therapy, vaginal estrogen treatments and antidepressants can help treat perimenopausal symptoms.
Start by identifying what’s bothering you most and then working with your doctor to address it. There are steps you can take to feel better. Lifestyle changes that can make a big impact in easing perimenopausal symptoms and improving your overall health include:
What Are The Stages Leading Up To Menopause
After puberty, there are three other phases of female fertility:
- Pre-menopause: Women have full ovarian function, regularly produce estrogen and ovulate.
- Perimenopause: The ovaries begin to fluctuate in their ovulation and production of estrogen, which can result in unpredictable menstrual cycles and symptoms.
- Menopause: When the ovaries have shut down. Someone would be in menopause after 12 months without menses.
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Physical Symptoms Of Perimenopause Include So Much More Than Hot Flushes Night Sweats And Irregular Periods:
Vaginal dryness soreness, vulnerability to infections, pain during sex
Incontinence stress incontinence or urgency
Joint pain or general aches and pains
Cyclical breast pain
Digestive changes constipation or diarrhoea
Weight gain around the tummy
Headaches migraines before a period or at any time
If these symptoms are occurring alongside a change in periods, it is likely you are in perimenopause.
It’s also possible to still have regular periods and be in perimenopause, but there may be subtle changes such as a slightly shorter cycle maybe 24 days instead of 29 or heavier or lighter bleeding.
There is a huge variation in what women experience with their cycles: some women miss a period then have several more regular ones before missing another. This can continue, as Dr Currie says, ‘For many years. It’s a gradual transition.’
What Are The Symptoms
Breast soreness related to perimenopause will likely feel different from the soreness you may have felt at other times in your life. Menstrual breast pain usually feels like a dull ache in both breasts. It often occurs right before your period.
Breast pain during perimenopause is more likely to feel like burning or soreness. You may feel it in one breast or both breasts. Not all women experience breast discomfort in the same way. The pain may feel sharp, stabbing, or throbbing.
The same hormones that cause overall breast soreness during perimenopause may also lead to tender or sensitive areas within your breasts. Other signs that youre in perimenopause include:
- hot flashes
- loss of interest in sex, or less pleasure from sex
- trouble sleeping
- mood changes
If you dont think your breast soreness is due to perimenopause, consider a visit to your doctor. You should also consult your doctor if you have additional symptoms, such as:
- clear, yellow, bloody, or pus-like discharge from the nipple
- increase in breast size
- changes in the appearance of the breast
- chest pain
These symptoms could be a sign of a more serious condition. For example, chest pain could be a sign of a heart condition. Your doctor can help determine if your breast soreness is hormonal or if another condition might be causing your symptoms.
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When Is The Point You Should Contact Your Doctor
If you’re experiencing pain and cramping to the point where you have to take painkillers, then definitely go and see your doctor. If it’s debilitating or affecting your daily regime in any way, please go and see a doctor.
And, if the bloating you’re getting is constant , then please go and just get these checked out by your doctor as well.
I hope you found this one interesting, and I will look forward to next week for another edition of A.Vogel Talks Menopause.
What Else Can Happen During Perimenopause
One of the first signs that you are perimenopausal is a missed period. As your estrogen and progesterone levels slowly drop, you will no longer have regular monthly periods. However, they do not simply stop altogether overnight, the process can take years, so you might not have a period for a couple of months, then all of sudden you will. You are considered officially menopausal when you havent had a single period for 12 months.
Many women feel like they are losing control as they enter this stage in their lives. Your body is transitioning and with that you might feel anxious, dizzy or even depressed. These are symptoms that arent spoken about as much amongst women, but they are often the worse, affecting your mental state and increasing stress. Not only that, but fatigue can also take-over, so if you notice a considerable dip in energy this could be why.
Some women report a more uncomfortable time during perimenopause, as opposed to menopause itself, but every womans journey is different. If youve ever wondered why some women suffer more than others, you might like to read our previous blog post on this topic.
Of course you have come to the LadyCare blog, which means we have a solution, that is proven to help up to 71% of women with 24 symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. This includes the more common symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings and weight gain to name just a few.
When You Should See Your Doctor About Cramps During Perimenopause
Cramping may be a sign of something quite serious. Its best to talk with a medical professional about whats causing them to rule out any of these more serious conditions.
Go see your doctor if you start showing any of the following:
If you get cramps for the first time or they get more severe.
You experience symptoms such as dizziness, vomiting, weight loss or heavy bleeding. Or, if the pain is accompanied by a high fever, it may be a sign of an infection and you should seek immediate medical treatment.
Are they Interfering with your Daily Life?
One sign that menstrual cramps could be beyond the normal is if theyre interfering with your normal life. For example, if you miss days of work or school, or cancel all social activities when you have your period.
Check in with your doctor if this is the case for you. There are certainly solutions and you dont just have to suffer through this problem without help.
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How Is Menopause Diagnosed
There are several ways your healthcare provider can diagnose menopause. The first is discussing your menstrual cycle over the last year. If you have gone a full year without a period, you may be postmenopausal. Another way your provider can check if you are going through menopause is a blood test that checks your follicle stimulating hormone level. FSH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland this gland is located at the base of your brain. However, this test can be misleading during the beginning of menopause when your body is transitioning and your hormone levels are fluctuating up and down. Hormone testing always need to be interpreted in the context of what is happening with the menstrual period.
For many women, a blood test is not necessary. If you are having the symptoms of menopause and your periods have been irregular, talk to your healthcare provider. Your provider may be able to diagnose menopause after your conversation.
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Perimenopause Period Pains Bloating & More
Are you nearing menopause, yet occasionally experience symptoms as if you were menstruating, such as period type cramps or bloating? Its not actually that uncommon and its definitely nothing to worry about unless you are experiencing ongoing pain or you have an underlying health issue.
As you enter perimenopause, , you might notice that you are getting menstrual cramps without actually having a period. Again, this is very common and you might also experience other symptoms such as breast tenderness or changes in emotions. At this point your body is still going through a monthly cycle, but you might not have enough hormones to result in a bleed.
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When To See The Doctor For Menstrual Cramps Without A Period
Whether to see your doctor for your menstrual cramps depends on the additional symptoms you may be experiencing. Although there are many natural reasons why you might have cramps without a period, enough causes for concern exist that you may wish to see a doctor anyway.
Consider the following before making your decision:
- How painful your cramps are
- How long your pain lasts
- Whether you have other symptoms in addition to cramps
- Where you are in your monthly menstrual cycle
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Dealing With Menstrual Cramps During Perimenopause
During perimenopause your hormones wreak havoc on your body. If you are lucky, you may experience only mild symptoms of your body working to shut down your ovaries. It may take as long as ten years for your periods to stop completely, and during this time, your fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels will cause unpleasant symptoms, including menstrual pain.
You can treat perimenopausal pain at home however, if it lasts for more than two days, you may want to make an appointment with the doctor.