Loss Of Libido And Sexual Discomfort
Hormonal changes can negatively affect your sex drive. During menopause, vaginal dryness can make sex uncomfortable.
What to do: Talk to your gynecologist. Some local treatments can help with vaginal dryness. Over-the-counter products designed for vaginal use can also help make intercourse easier. Hand creams or lotions containing alcohol or perfumes are a no-no, as they can irritate tender skin.
Hot Flashes And Night Sweats
Estrogen deficiency throws off how the brain regulates body temperature, and this may lead to hot flashes. A hot flash is a sudden, intense feeling of heat or burning in the face, neck, and chest, often accompanied by redness.
A night sweat refers to a hot flash that occurs during sleep. Night sweats can negatively impact your sleep cycle, which may lead to tiredness during the day.
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:
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Will Being Super Healthy Help Delay Menopause
Although maintaining good overall health is important for a variety of reasons, it wont necessarily translate to later menopause, says Streicher. I have women who tell me, I have a healthy diet, Im thin, I work out all the time, and I look young. Im sure Im not going to go through menopause early, and when I do, I wont have hot flashes and other symptoms. I wish I could say that was true, but its not, she says.
Body weight might matter, though. We do know that the extremes of weight, in someone who is very obese or someone with very low body weight, may impact the onset of menopause, but for the majority of women in the middle it doesnt seem to have a big impact, says Streicher.
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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How To Prevent Early Menopause
There are several ways in which menopause may affect a persons health. It is not just the inability to conceive that may result from premature menopause or early menopause, but it can also cause many other health issues. Early menopause may lead to bone loss, an increased risk of heart disease, and a lack of sexual drive, to name a few. Having menopause later in life, on the other side, may offer health advantages. For example, a recent research found that older women with a later menopause start were less likely to suffer from cognitive deterioration. Knowing which variables impact the onset of menopause is critical in light of these health consequences. Studying diet and menopause was sparked by Yashvee Dunneram, who works as a researcher in food science and nutrition at the School of Food Science and Nutrition in Leeds, United Kingdom.
Eat Foods Rich in Calcium and Vitamin D
Induced Menopause Following Cancer Therapy
Ovarian damage from cancer therapy depends on the age at treatment and on the type of treatment. Women younger than age 40 years and children are at lower risk for ovarian failure than older women however, exposure to higher doses of alkylating agents and higher doses of radiation to the ovary are more likely to induce ovarian failure . Based on the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study , a cohort study of survivors of childhood cancer treated at 25 cancer centers throughout North America between 1970 and 1986, approximately 6% of childhood cancer survivors experienced acute ovarian failure during cancer treatment or shortly after completing cancer treatment . Another 8% retained ovarian function during treatment but later developed premature menopause . This is believed to be an underestimate of the true population incidence of premature menopause because the median age attained in this group at the time of analysis was only 29 years .
Follow-up of childhood cancer survivors has identified an increase in miscarriages, an increase in small for gestational age offspring, and a reduction in live births . Longer term health outcomes, beyond cancer free survival, are not yet available however, these subjects are expected to be at increased risk for osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, psychosexual dysfunction, and decreased quality of life .
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How Is Premature Menopause And Primary Ovarian Insufficiency Treated
Management of the condition can vary depending on why menopause started earlier than normal. Given the health risks associated with early menopause, hormone replacement therapy is routinely recommended to all women with premature menopause or primary ovarian insufficiency, unless there is a compelling reason it cant be used. There is a lot of confusion about the safety of hormone therapies. Many of the risks of hormone therapy used after natural menopause are not thought to apply to women who have premature menopause. It is important to discuss the pros and cons of hormone therapy with your doctor. Some healthcare providers have additional certification in the management of menopause, and these providers will be a valuable resource when receiving conflicting information about the safety of hormone therapy.
What Is The Difference Between Premature Menopause And Early Menopause
The difference between premature menopause and early menopause is when it happens. Premature menopause occurs before a woman is 40. Early menopause is when a woman undergoes menopause before age 45.
Many of the causes of premature menopause can also be causes of early menopause. The two types of menopause also share many of the same symptoms.
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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.
What Are The Symptoms Of Perimenopause
During perimenopause, you can experience a variety of symptoms. The reason: Your ovaries have been making estrogen since your first period. During perimenopause, the estrogen production decreases substantially. Your body has to adjust to functioning with less of the hormone, putting you into estrogen withdrawals. The type and intensity of symptoms vary greatly among women some just feel a little off or don’t notice anything at all.
Others can experience perimenopausal symptoms including:
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling irritable, anxious or depressed
- Night sweats
- Hot flashes
About 80 percent of women will experience some form of a hot flash during perimenopause or menopause. Hot flashes happen when your brain has trouble regulating your internal temperature, which is a common response to having less estrogen. The shift in temperature may not be noticeable. Or, it may feel like someone cranked up the thermostat on your core body temperature. You suddenly feel uncomfortably hot and sweaty, or you may wake up drenched in sweat .
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How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Perimenopause Complications
Irregular periods are the most common symptom of perimenopause. But its important to know when to talk to your healthcare provider about your periods. Sometimes, irregular bleeding can point to an underlying problem.
You can lower your risk of complications by seeking treatment when necessary. Talk to your healthcare provider if you:
- Bleed for more than seven days in a row.
- Bleed between periods.
- Change pads or tampons every one to two hours.
- Have periods more frequently than every 21 days.
Opinionyour Doctor Doesn’t Know If You Have Perimenopause Because It’s Largely Unstudied
To get through it, I made a few changes. To combat weight gain and potentially uneven moods, I cut out my daily glass of wine . I also found a renewed love for running something Id been doing for 25 years but came to see as extra important for dealing with stress and keeping my bones strong now that estrogen wouldnt be around to safeguard them as much.
Hot flashes? I kept wet washcloths in the freezer and draped one around my neck when a flash came . And as for romance there was no magic fix on that one, but my husband and I worked to spend more quality time together and have more honest conversations .
Are You Headed Toward Early Menopause
There are many negative health consequences linked to early menopause, including a higher risk of osteoporosis and fracture, heart disease, cognitive impairment and dementia, and early death, says Dr. Faubion.
If you have questions about when youll experience menopause and if you can do anything to change it, keep reading for answers.
What Else Affects When A Woman Will Finally Stop Having Menstrual Periods
Researchers continue to explore a number of factors that may influence the timing of menopause.
The level of education a woman has completed is one thing that seems to correlate with menopause timing, says Faubion. Women who have more education tend to go through menopause later, she says.
A study published in January 2020 in JAMA Network Open found that pregnancy and breastfeeding may reduce the risk of early menopause.
How frequently a woman has sex has also been correlated with early menopause. A study published in January 2020 in Royal Society Open Science found that women who had sex at least once a week were less likely to go through menopause compared with women who had sex less than once a month.
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Removal Of The Ovaries
If you have surgery to remove your ovaries , you will experience menopause immediately because the organs that produce hormones and release eggs are no longer present.
Menopause that occurs from the absence of ovaries is known as surgical menopause.
Conditions like endometriosis, tumors, and cancer may require a person to have their ovaries removed.
People who have an oophorectomy will experience typical menopause symptoms however, rather than having them come on gradually as they would with natural menopause, they will experience them all at once, which can be intense.
Hormone replacement therapies can be used to treat menopause symptoms. However, hormone therapy is not recommended for people being treated for breast cancer, as it may increase the risk of recurrence.
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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Home Remedies: Plant Estrogens
Isoflavones are chemical compounds found in soy and other plants that are phytoestrogens, or plant-derived estrogens. There is a perception among many women that plant estrogens are “natural” and therefore safer than HT, but medical researchers haven’t proven this scientifically. Most scientific studies have not shown a benefit of phytoestrogens in controlling hot flashes. In addition, there is concern that some phytoestrogens might act like estrogen in some tissues of the body. Therefore, many experts recommend that women who have a history of breast cancer avoid phytoestrogens.
How Will Menopause Affect Me
Menopause affects every woman differently. Most women get some hot flushes and/or night sweats but are able to manage these without treatment. Around 20 per cent of women have symptoms which are troublesome and/or prolonged and these women may consider treatment. The experience of menopause and symptoms differ in women from different ethnic groups, for example, for some Asian women, body and joint aches and pains are the most troublesome symptom.
Factors that may affect your experience of menopause
- Your age at menopause. Younger women who were not expecting to go through menopause may have more difficulty than women at the average age.
- What you are expecting of menopause. Women who expect to have troublesome menopausal symptoms are more likely to experience troublesome symptoms when they go through menopause. So, a positive and informed approach to menopause may help.
- Many women are relieved that they no longer have menstrual periods and are no longer fertile.
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Getting Support For Early Menopause
Going through the menopause early can be difficult and upsetting.
Permanent early menopause affects your ability to have children.
You may need fertility treatment using donated eggs. You can use your own eggs if you had some stored.
Surrogacy and adoption may also be options for you.
Counselling and support groups may be helpful:
- The Daisy Network a support group for premature ovarian failure
- Cancer.ie provides information about menopausal symptoms after cancer treatment
Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE
Page last reviewed: 8 July 2021 Next review due: 8 July 2024
How Does Perimenopause Affect My Body
During perimenopause, estrogen levels decrease. Estrogen is a key female hormone. It plays a role in maintaining many body systems, including the female reproductive system. Estrogen levels may continue to be irregular throughout perimenopause.
When you reach menopause, your body makes so little estrogen that your ovaries no longer release eggs. At this point, you stop having your period.
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Spontaneous Premature Ovarian Failure Or Early Menopause
Premature ovarian failure , also now referred to as primary ovarian insufficiency or primary ovarian dysfunction , is a syndrome of amenorrhea, low sex steroid levels, and elevated gonadotropin levels among women younger than age 40 years. POF is most frequently idiopathic but may also be due to autoimmune disorders, genetic causes, infections or inflammatory conditions, enzyme deficiencies, or metabolic syndromes . POF is reported to affect approximately 1% of women under age 40 years and spontaneous early menopause is reported to affect approximately 5% of women between ages 40 and 45 years .
POF has been found to be associated with intermittent ovarian function in nearly half of the women affected . While spontaneous or induced return of ovarian function is possible, most women with POF experience sustained sex steroid deficiency for longer periods compared with women who experienced spontaneous menopause around the median age. Thus, POF and other causes of premature spontaneous menopause are generally classified together when evaluating long-term health outcomes.
Oral Contraceptives And Vaginal Treatments
Oral contraceptive pills
Oral contraceptive pills are another form of hormone therapy often prescribed for women in perimenopause to treat irregular vaginal bleeding. Women in the menopausal transition tend to have considerable breakthrough bleeding when given estrogen therapy. Therefore, oral contraceptives are often given to women in the menopause transition to regulate menstrual periods, relieve hot flashes, as well as to provide contraception. They are not recommended for women who have already reached menopause, because the dose of estrogen is higher than that needed to control hot flashes and other symptoms. The contraindications for oral contraceptives in women going through the menopause transition are the same as those for premenopausal women.
Local hormone and non-hormone treatments
There are also local hormonal treatments for the symptoms of vaginal estrogen deficiency. Local treatments include the vaginal estrogen ring , vaginal estrogen cream, or vaginal estrogen tablets. Local and oral estrogen treatments are sometimes combined for this purpose.
Vaginal moisturizing agents such as creams or lotions as well as the use of lubricants during intercourse are non-hormonal options for managing the discomfort of vaginal dryness.
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Hysterectomy With Ovaries Left Intact
People who have their ovaries intact, but without their uterus, won’t get their period anymore. They may, however, still experience premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual dysphoric disorder because the hormones made by the ovaries cause the body to continue to “cycle” monthly.
Occasionally, people whose ovaries were not removed during a hysterectomy experience hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. This is mostly due to the disturbance of the blood supply to the ovaries during surgery.
In addition, some people may undergo menopause a few years sooner than they normally would if they never underwent a hysterectomy .