What Is Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy can help relieve some symptoms of perimenopause. In general, healthcare providers recommend that people who opt to use hormone therapy start it within 10 years of beginning menopause symptoms and use it for less than five years. Estrogen and hormones have been linked to an increased risk of heart problems and some types of breast cancer.
Speak with your healthcare provider to make sure you understand the risks and benefits of hormone therapy as a treatment for perimenopause.
Peri Meno & Post: When Does The Change Happen
Your hormones can begin decreasing in your 30s and may continue well into your 40s and 50s. This is called perimenopause or the transition to menopause for most women.
The average age of menopause for US women is 51. Most women reach this milestone somewhere between ages 45 and 55.
Once your period has stopped for 12 months, you are considered in menopause and enter the postmenopause stage of life.
What Symptoms Are Caused By The Reduced Levels Of Estrogen In My Body
About 75 percent of women experience hot flashes during menopause, making them the most common symptom experienced by menopausal women. Hot flashes can occur during the day or at night. Some women may also experience muscle and joint pain, known as arthralgia, or mood swings.
It may be difficult to determine whether these symptoms are caused by shifts in your hormones, life circumstances, or the aging process itself.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Do my symptoms indicate that I might be going through menopause?
- My menstrual cycle is irregular. Could it be caused by something other than menopause?
- Im uncomfortable and/or dont feel well. Is there a way to safely treat my symptoms?
- Ive heard that soy products or herbal supplements may help. Are these effective? Are they good options for me?
- Am I a candidate for hormone replacement therapy?
- What are the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy?
- Am I at risk for heart disease or osteoporosis?
- Do I need any tests, such as bone density screening?
- Now that Im going through menopause, what changes, if any, should I make to my diet and exercise?
What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy is a treatment for menopause symptoms. It involves taking synthetic hormones . HRT can involve taking estrogen alone or estrogen combined with another hormone, progestin. Some people have found that HRT can relieve menopause symptoms. These symptoms include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and some urinary problems. However, HRT is not for everyone. Recent studies suggest that for most people, the risks of using HRT may outweigh the benefits. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of HRT.
The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends against the use of combined estrogen and progestin for the prevention of chronic conditions in postmenopausal women. The AAFP also recommends against the use of estrogen for the prevention of chronic conditions in postmenopausal women who have had a hysterectomy.
According to the AAFP, This recommendation applies to postmenopausal women who are considering hormone replacement therapy for the primary prevention of chronic medical conditions. It does not apply to women who are considering hormone therapy for the management of menopausal symptoms, or to women who have had premature menopause , or surgical menopause.
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What Are Hot Flashes
Hot flashes can be a pretty unpleasant symptom of perimenopause and menopause. We dont totally understand the cause of hot flashes.
Most people describe a hot flash as a sudden hot feeling that spreads all over your body but mostly the upper body, like your arms, chest, and face. You may also get sweaty, and your fingers may tingle and your heart may beat faster. A typical hot flash usually lasts anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes.
Hot flashes at night are called night sweats. Sometimes they can get so severe that you soak your sheets with sweat.
Hot flashes are super common. More than 3 out of 4 people have them while going through perimenopause and menopause.
Nothing will make hot flashes stop completely, but there are some things you can do to help get some relief. Wearing light, loose clothes, keeping your room cool, drinking cold liquids, and avoiding alcohol and caffeine can help you stay cool.
Prescription hot flash treatments can be helpful, too. Hormone therapy works best to treat hot flashes, but other medicines like SSRIs and SNRIs and clonidine may also help. Research shows that herbs, vitamins, acupuncture, and reflexology dont help with hot flashes.
What Conditions Can Cause Early Menopause
Certain medical and surgical conditions can influence the timing of menopause.
Surgical removal of the ovaries
The surgical removal of the ovaries in an ovulating woman will result in an immediate menopause, sometimes termed a surgical menopause, or induced menopause. In this case, there is no perimenopause, and after surgery, a woman will generally experience the signs and symptoms of menopause. In cases of surgical menopause, women often report that the abrupt onset of menopausal symptoms results in particularly severe symptoms, but this is not always the case.
The ovaries are often removed together with the removal of the uterus . If a hysterectomy is performed without removal of both ovaries in a woman who has not yet reached menopause, the remaining ovary or ovaries are still capable of normal hormone production. While a woman cannot menstruate after the uterus is removed by a hysterectomy, the ovaries themselves can continue to produce hormones up until the normal time when menopause would naturally occur. At this time, a woman could experience the other symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and mood swings. These symptoms would then not be associated with the cessation of menstruation. Another possibility is that premature ovarian failure will occur earlier than the expected time of menopause, as early as one to two years following the hysterectomy. If this happens, a woman may or may not experience symptoms of menopause.
Cancer chemotherapy and radiation therapy
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How Long Does A Woman Go Through Menopause
The entire process of menopause typically lasts between 7 and 11 years, though it may be more or less for some.
Disclaimer:The views expressed in this article intend to inform and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Pandia Health, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.
How To Know When Menopause Is Over
When you are going through the menopause it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but its important to know that there is an end to it. So, this week on A.Vogel Talks Menopause I thought I would take a look at how to know when menopause is over, including how long it lasts, what are the signs that menopause is finally over and how you can feel afterwards.
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I Got My First Period Early Does That Mean Ill Go Through Menopause Early
I have many patients tell me, I know Im going to go through menopause earlier because I started my period really early, says Streicher. The reason women think that is because they think menopause occurs when you run out of eggs. This isnt going to happen were born with millions of eggs and many of those are never used. When you go through menopause is really about the aging of eggs and what causes them to age more quickly, she says.
The average age of menarche in the United States has gotten younger for a variety of reasons, but that hasnt made women go through menopause earlier, she points out.
Are Women Who Arent Experiencing Menopausal Symptoms Still Fertile
No matter when you experience natural menopause, your chances of getting pregnant after the age of 40 are low, says Faubion. But you can still become pregnant as youre transitioning to menopause, and you still need to use if you don’t want to conceive, she adds.
Streicher confirms, saying, and menopause are not the same thing there are plenty of women who are pumping out and menstruating and are not fertile. If youre sexually active, its important to consult with your doctor before making any decisions about birth control to avoid unwanted pregnancy.
On the other hand, dont assume that just because you are still menstruating that you can . Women who are concerned that they may have trouble conceiving or think they may experience menopause early and still want children should discuss options such as egg freezing with their doctor, says Streicher.
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How Is Perimenopause Diagnosed
You dont always need to see a healthcare provider for a perimenopause diagnosis. Many people notice and tolerate the changes in their bodies without a formal diagnosis. If you have symptoms that interfere with your daily activities, see a healthcare provider.
You should reach out to your healthcare provider right away if you have:
- Blood clots in menstrual discharge.
- Spotting between periods.
- Emotional symptoms interfering with your ability to function on a daily basis.
Can Perimenopause Be Treated
There isnt any treatment to stop perimenopause. Perimenopause is a natural part of life. The cure for perimenopause occurs when your periods stop and you enter menopause.
But your healthcare provider may recommend over-the-counter or prescription perimenopause treatment to help ease symptoms. Your provider may recommend:
- Antidepressants: These medications help with mood swings or depression.
- Birth control pills. These medications stabilize your hormone levels and typically relieve symptoms.
- Estrogen therapy: This treatment stabilizes estrogen levels. You may take estrogen therapy as a cream, gel, patch or swallowable pill.
- Gabapentin : This medicine is a seizure medication that also relieves hot flashes for some women.
- Vaginal creams: Your provider can tell you about prescription and over-the-counter options. Treatment can decrease pain related to sex and relieve vaginal dryness.
Your healthcare provider will discuss the risks and benefits of perimenopause treatment with you and recommend the best option based on your needs. Certain lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet, light exercise and avoiding foods or activities that trigger hot flashes can also help.
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When Does Menopause Occur
Although the average age of menopause is 51, menopause can actually happen any time from the 30s to the mid-50s or later. Women who smoke and are underweight tend to have an earlier menopause, while women who are overweight often have a later menopause. Generally, a woman tends to have menopause at about the same age as her mother did.
Menopause can also happen for reasons other than natural reasons. These include:
Premature menopause. Premature menopause may happen when there is ovarian failure before the age of 40. It may be associated with smoking, radiation exposure, chemotherapeutic drugs, or surgery that impairs the ovarian blood supply. Premature ovarian failure is also called primary ovarian insufficiency.
Surgical menopause. Surgical menopause may follow the removal of one or both ovaries, or radiation of the pelvis, including the ovaries, in premenopausal women. This results in an abrupt menopause. These women often have more severe menopausal symptoms than if they were to have menopause naturally.
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.
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How To Test For Menopause
The reduction in the levels of hormones that results from menopause often leads to a common misconception around testing. You might think that doctors can do a quick test of your hormone levels to find out if youre going through menopause or not. However, womens hormone levels are falling and rising constantly. Because of this, physicians may order multiple hormonal blood tests for menopause at different times during your cycle to get an overall assessment of your hormonal balance.
Perimenopause: How To Spot The First Signs Of Menopause
3 Minute Read
Medically Reviewed by UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital
Menopause doesnt happen overnight and the symptoms vary from person to person. Many women will ask: How will I know when I start menopause?
Technically, youre in menopause if you havent had a period for 12 straight months. Perimenopause is the time when your body begins to make the transition towards menopause.
Women start perimenopause at different ages. Its a normal phase of life that usually occurs anywhere from a womans early forties to mid-fifties.
The symptoms of menopause can be confusing. Some women experience every symptom, others barely any. And while some symptoms may occur for months, others can last for years. Here are some of the most common early signs of menopause.
If youre still asking yourself, How will I know when I start menopause? visit the Midlife Health Center at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital for more information.
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Hot Flashes And Night Sweats
One of the major symptoms of menopause, hot flashes can make your whole body uncomfortably warm for a minute or more. Your face flushes, you perspire, and it feels like your heart is racing. You may wake up hot and sweaty at night, even though your room is cool.
What to do: To reduce the discomfort of hot flashes, dress in layers during the day, and in light pajamas at night. Keep a cool bottle of water close at hand, and use an ice pack to cool your pillow at night.
Menopause And Bone Health
And then just when you thought it couldnt get any worse
- Eat calcium-rich foods
- Include Vitamin D supplements in your daily routine
- Regulate our alcohol and caffeine intake
- Do regular exercise that includes some weight training
- Avoid smoking
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Avoid unnecessary weight gain
- Reduce stress
And other than that, simply try to stay positive and marvel at the miracle of our awesome bodies. Because lets face it, theres no turning back now. Its onward and upward.
But seriously, women are such amazing creatures, arent we? These bodies of ours perform daily wonders and I guess we should continue to treat them well and look after them as best we can as we enter each new phase of our lives. Self-care FTW!
Do you have any other tips that youve found help to ease your perimenopause symptoms? Sleeping with a fan in your bedroom, cutting down on certain foods, avoiding spicy foods or maybe having a regular date night to spice up your life that way instead?
Please leave any tips and great ideas in the comments section below. I would love to hear what you have to say.
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I Wasnt Expecting This
For instance, the hot flushes and night sweats didnt really bother me. The development of severe migraine that disabled me for 24 hours at least once a fortnight did. I was expecting irregular, heavier periods. I wasnt expecting to bleed three weeks out of four, or to have such excruciating period pain that I was given IM Pethidine by a sympathetic GP. I wasnt expecting bouts of dizziness and nausea requiring me to lie down for an hour at random times of the day. I was expecting to feel a bit tearful, a bit snappy. I wasnt expecting to be completely out of control of my emotions. Crying at criticism, at imagined slights, at the television for Gods sake. Or being angry and sharp, irrationally boiling with rage over really small things. Being within a hairs breadth of walking out of work, of leaving home and twelve hours later thinking What on earth, was that all about? It was about peri-menopause. No One Told Me it could be like that. No one warned me that these symptoms might be severe and intense so that I could recognize and work through those times to minimize the disruption to me, my colleagues, my family, my work. And then there were the myriad other relatively minor things forgetfulness, poor concentration, weight gain , forgetting what I wanted to say mid-sentence, aches and pains, fatigue. There really is a seemingly endless list.
When Do I Know That Im Having A Hot Flash
During a hot flash, youll likely feel your body temperature rise. Hot flashes affect the top half of your body, and your skin may even turn red in color or become blotchy. This rush of heat could lead to sweating, heart palpitations, and feelings of dizziness. After the hot flash, you may feel cold.
Hot flashes may come on daily or even multiple times a day. You may experience them over the course of a year or even several years.
Avoiding triggers may reduce the number of hot flashes you experience. These can include:
- consuming alcohol or caffeine
Being overweight and smoking may also make hot flashes worse.
A few techniques may help reduce your hot flashes and their symptoms:
- Dress in layers to help with hot flashes, and use a fan in your home or office space.
- Do breathing exercises during a hot flash to try to minimize it.
Medications such as birth control pills, hormone therapy, or even other prescriptions may help you reduce hot flashes. See your doctor if youre having difficulty managing hot flashes on your own.
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