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How Do You Know If You Have Menopause

What Happens If You’ve Had A Complete Hysterectomy

How to know if you are going into menopause

Now, if you’ve had a complete hysterectomy, which means you’ve had the womb and the ovaries out, regardless of what age you are, as long as you’re before the average age when you would have started the menopause, you will go straight into a full menopause. There’s no preamble here. You’ve lost your ovaries, and your ovaries dictate how your hormones run, and when they are removed, you will very suddenly hit the menopause.

Memory And Concentration Problems

During perimenopause, women often complain of short-term memory problems and difficulty with concentration. Study results looking at the relationship between falling hormone levels and cognitive function have been inconsistent. Some women do believe that low dose estrogen after menopause helps them think. But the research has not supported this. Stress likely plays a more important role in memory and thinking compared to hormonal fluctuations.

Treating memory and concentration problems. Just as it isn’t clear what causes memory and concentration problems, there is no obvious remedy. Staying physically active and scheduling at least 150 minutes per week of dedicated exercise may be the best way to maintain brain health. Brain and memory experts also recommend that people work to keep their brain functioning at its peak by taking on new and interesting challenges. Use your mind in many different ways. Do crossword puzzles. Learn a new musical instrument or sport. Play chess. Read more books. Learn a new language or how to use the computer. The idea is to challenge your brain in new ways.

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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The Doctor Determines That You Have Finished

If you are unsure whether your menopause is over, then you should see a doctor who can give you a physical exam and a blood test and as a result will be able to tell you what stage of the menopause you are at. If you have not finished your menopause then a doctor might also be able to indicate roughly how long you might expect until it does finish.

Is There A Menopause Test

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Your GP might suggest a blood test if youre under 45. This will measure the amount of follicle-stimulating hormone in your blood. If youre over 45, FSH levels become more unpredictable, so a blood test isnt meaningful. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence suggests that for women over 45, diagnosis should be based on menopause symptoms alone.

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How Long Do Symptoms Last

Perimenopausal symptoms can last four years on average. The symptoms associated with this phase will gradually ease during menopause and postmenopause. Women whove gone an entire year without a period are considered postmenopausal.

Hot flashes, also known as hot flushes, are a common symptom of perimenopause. One study found that moderate to severe hot flashes could continue past perimenopause and last for a

Researchers also found that Black women and women of average weight experience hot flashes for a longer period than white women and women who are considered overweight.

Its possible for a woman to experience menopause before the age of 55. Early menopause occurs in women who go through menopause before theyre 45 years old. Its considered premature menopause if youre menopausal and are 40 years old or younger.

Early or premature menopause can happen for many reasons. Some women can go through early or premature menopause because of surgical intervention, like a hysterectomy. It can also happen if the ovaries are damaged by chemotherapy or other conditions and treatments.

What Other Life Changes Affect Menopause

Menopause can be a rough time. In addition to the symptoms that may be tough to deal with, a lot of stressful life changes can happen around the same time as perimenopause and menopause.

Some changes you may go through during this time in your life include:

  • anxiety about illness, aging, and death

  • anxiety about the future, getting older, and losing independence

  • anxiety about being disabled

  • changes in family, social, and personal relationships

  • changes in identity or body image

  • children leaving home

  • getting divorced or losing a partner

  • having a partner become ill or disabled

  • more responsibility for grandchildren

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What Are The Stages Of Menopause

  • Perimenopause typically occurs 3-5 years prior to the start of menopause. This stage occurs when your estrogen levels begin to drop and your body begins the transition towards menopause. You can still get pregnant during perimenopause.
  • Menopause is confirmed to have started after youve missed your period for 12 consecutive months. Though every woman is unique and will experience this transition differently, most women enter menopause when they are 51 or 52.
  • Postmenopause includes the time after menopause. Estrogen levels continue to decline during this stage, which can cause some menopausal symptoms to linger.

When To Seek Help

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Its common and normal to experience irregular periods when youre perimenopausal.

However, other conditions, like polycystic ovary syndrome or cervical cancer, can also cause irregular bleeding. See your doctor to rule out other causes if you:

  • suddenly experience very heavy periods or periods with blood clots
  • have periods lasting longer than usual
  • spot or bleed after sex
  • spot or bleed after your period
  • have periods close together

Osteoporosis and heart disease are long-term health risks associated with menopause. Thats because estrogen plays a significant role in protecting your bones and your heart. Without estrogen, youre at an increased risk for both diseases.

Youre also at an increased risk of urinary tract infections because menopause can cause your urethra to become dry, irritated, or inflamed. Vaginal infections can also occur more frequently because your vagina has become dryer and thinner.

Report menopausal symptoms when visiting the doctor. Get assessed by your physician if you continue to have menopausal symptoms that are unbearable or last more than five years after your last menstrual period.

Although menopause can cause uncomfortable symptoms for some women, this natural process has possible upsides, too. There are several potential benefits of menopause to consider:

You will still need to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases.

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Why Am I Still Getting Symptoms After Menopause

But we also get a large number of women wanting to know why they’re still getting symptoms well through the menopause. Now, remember, once your periods have stopped for two years, that’s you postmenopausal, but your hormones just don’t suddenly stop changing after the two years. Your hormonal balance can continue to change and fluctuate for a good number of years after that.

And for some women, this continual hormonal change will continue to trigger menopause symptoms. But what we do tend to say is if you are still getting menopausal symptoms after about four or five years or longer after your periods have finally stopped, then we advise you just to get things checked out by your doctor.

Other health issues can creep in. The poor menopause can get the blame. And, you know, a lot of women will try menopausal remedies and find that they don’t really work because other health issues have taken over the role, if you like, and are continuing to trigger menopause-like symptoms. So it’s really important, in this situation, just ask for a health check from your doctor because if it is anything else, very often, it can be sorted, and that will make you feel better in the long run.

Bleeding If You’re On The Pill

If you’re taking the combined pill, you’ll have monthly period-type bleeds for as long as you keep taking the pill.

If you’re taking the progestogen-only pill, your bleeds may be irregular or stop altogether for as long as you keep taking the pill.

The combined pill may also mask or control menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes and night sweats.

These factors can make it hard to know when you’re no longer ovulating and therefore no longer fertile.

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What Can I Do About Hot Flashes

Hot flashes occur from a decrease in estrogen levels. In response to this, your glands release higher amounts of other hormones that affect the brain’s thermostat, causing your body temperature to fluctuate. Hormone therapy has been shown to relieve some of the discomfort of hot flashes for many women. However, the decision to start using these hormones should be made only after you and your healthcare provider have evaluated your risk versus benefit ratio.

To learn more about women’s health, and specifically hormone therapy, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health launched the Women’s Health Initiative in 1991. The hormone trial had 2 studies: the estrogen-plus-progestin study of women with a uterus and the estrogen-alone study of women without a uterus. Both studies ended early when the research showed that hormone therapy did not help prevent heart disease and it increased risk for some medical problems. Follow-up studies found an increased risk of heart disease in women who took estrogen-plus-progestin therapy, especially those who started hormone therapy more than 10 years after menopause.

The WHI recommends that women follow the FDA advice on hormone therapy. It states that hormone therapy should not be taken to prevent heart disease.

Practical suggestions for coping with hot flashes include:

Menopause At A Glance

What Do I Need to Know About Menopause?
  • Every woman is affected by menopause in some way either they experience symptoms or other physical changes.
  • The average age of menopause is 51 years but you can enter menopause earlier.
  • Hormonal changes cause menopausal symptoms.
  • Most women will have some symptoms.
  • Most women have symptoms for 5 to 10 years.

Menopause occurs when you have not had a menstrual period for 12 months. Menopause is a natural part of life occurring at around age 51 years but can also happen for other reasons including after:

  • surgery to remove ovaries and/or your womb/uterus
  • chemotherapy
  • radiotherapy to your pelvis.

At menopause, you stop producing oestrogen and this can lead to menopausal symptoms. Oestrogen levels can vary in the time leading up to the final menstrual period .

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How Postmenopause Affects The Body

We dont fully appreciate the natural hormone estrogen until its gone. This humble hormone is essential for maintaining health throughout a womans body not just the reproductive system. With a decrease in estrogen, your bodys major systems can be affected too.

Heres how estrogen relates to the rest of your body once youre postmenopause.

Mood Swings And Depression

Studies indicate that mood swings are more common during perimenopause, when hormonal fluctuations are most erratic, than during the postmenopausal years, when ovarian hormones stabilize at a low level. No direct link between mood and diminished estrogen has been proved, but it is possible that mood changes result when hormonal shifts disrupt the established patterns of a woman’s life. These changes can be stressful and may bring on “the blues.” Mood swings can mean laughing one minute and crying the next, and feeling anxious or depressed. These changes are transient, however, and do not usually meet the criteria for a diagnosis of clinical depression, a more profound dysfunctional emotional state.

Over their lifespan, women have more depression than men. But there is no evidence that decreased estrogen alone causes clinical depression. Although women who have had previous episodes of depression may be vulnerable to a recurrence during perimenopause, menopause in and of itself does not cause clinical depression. The incidence of depression in postmenopausal women is not any higher than at any other time in life.

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Uterine Bleeding: What’s Normal What’s Not

One concern for perimenopausal and postmenopausal women is knowing whether irregular uterine bleeding is normal. Most women notice normal changes in their cycle as they approach menopause. Periods are often heavy or more frequent, and they may stop and start. But abnormal uterine bleeding may be a sign of benign gynecologic problems or even uterine cancer. Consult your physician if any of the following situations occur:

  • You have a few periods that last three days longer than usual.
  • You have a few menstrual cycles that are shorter than 21 days.
  • You bleed after intercourse.
  • You have heavy monthly bleeding .
  • You have spotting .
  • You have bleeding that occurs outside the normal pattern associated with hormone use.

When you report abnormal vaginal bleeding, your clinician will try to determine whether the cause is an anatomic problem or a hormonal issue. He or she also will investigate other possible causes. In addition to identifying the cause, he or she will help you manage any excess bleeding, which sometimes leads to anemia.

On rare occasions, postmenopausal women experience uterine bleeding from a “rogue ovulation,” which is vaginal bleeding after a hiatus that may be preceded by premenstrual symptoms such as breast tenderness. Presumably, the ovaries are producing some hormones and maybe a final egg.

How Is Menopause Diagnosed

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If you believe you are going through menopause and have concerns, talk to your doctor. Menopause does not require an official diagnosis unless you want to confirm it. Your doctor may order a blood test to check your hormone levels. They will check for estrogen as well as a follicle-stimulating hormone .

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What Are The Stages

The process happens slowly over three stages:

Perimenopause. Your cycles will become irregular, but they havenât stopped. Most women hit this stage around age 47. Even though you might notice symptoms like hot flashes, you can still get pregnant.

Menopause. This is when youâll have your final menstrual period. You wonât know for sure itâs happened until youâve gone a year without one. Hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep problems, and other symptoms are common in this stage.

Postmenopause. This begins when you hit the year mark from your final period. Once that happens, youâll be referred to as postmenopausal for the rest of your life. Keep in mind that after more than 1 year of no menstrual periods due to menopause, vaginal bleeding isn’t normal, so tell your doctor if you have any ASAP.

Other Physical And Mental Changes At Midlife

Some common midlife changes that are often attributed to menopause are not necessarily related to the fluctuating or decreasing hormone levels of menopause. The four most commonly reported changes include mood changes and depression insomnia or other sleep problems cognitive or memory problems and decline in sexual desire, function, or both. Other physical changes that crop up in the middle years include weight gain, urinary incontinence, heart palpitations, dry skin and hair, and headaches. For these, a hormonal link is possible, but has not been proved. Consider the fact that men, who don’t experience a dramatic drop in hormone levels in their early 50s, often notice many of these same symptoms!

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How Does Menopause Affect Heart Health

People are more likely to develop heart disease after menopause. Lower estrogen levels may be part of the cause. It also could be that other health issues that are more common as people get older. These include gaining weight, becoming less active, and developing high blood pressure or diabetes. You can reduce your risk of these health problems by eating a variety of healthy, nutrient-rich foods. It also helps to stay active and maintain an appropriate weight.

How Long Does Menopause

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The problem is that this is another one of those really difficult questions to answer. And what I get asked a lot about in this situation is “How long does the menopause last?” Because if you know how long it’s going to last, that will give you a rough idea when it’s coming to an end for you. But the problem here is that every single woman will have a different menopause.

Every single one of you sitting out there tonight will have a unique menopause that’s just yours and yours alone. There is no one size fits all. Now, we could have 10 women all squashed up on the settee sitting here, all the same age, all going through the menopause, and they would each have a completely different experience, and this is why it’s so difficult to answer these types of questions.

So roughly, I mean, all I can say here is this is a very rough guide, and normally, the average length of time for the perimenopause is about three years. So from the moment that you notice your hormones are changing, that you’re getting some kind of menopausal symptom or symptoms, until your periods stop for good, the average length of time is about three years.

Now, for some women, it’s going to be very quick. They might not even really notice much going on until they suddenly realise they haven’t had a period for a few months. For other women, this perimenopausal phase could last up to seven or eight years. So again, this is going to be unique for you.

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