What Tests Diagnose Menopause
Because hormone levels may fluctuate greatly in an individual woman, even from one day to the next, hormone levels are not a reliable method for diagnosing menopause. There is no single blood test that reliably predicts when a woman is going through the menopausal transition, so there is currently no proven role for blood testing to diagnose menopause. The only way to diagnose menopause is to observe the lack of menstrual periods for 12 months in a woman in the expected age range.
Understand And Manage Your Triggers
While menopausal symptoms can sometimes seem random and unpredictable, certain triggers cause them to occur. There may be specific foods and drinks, for instance, that can trigger night sweats, mood swings, and bloating. Or certain situations can create stress and cause hot flashes to occur. Understanding the symptoms you are prone to and the specific triggers that tend to induce them is important to preventing and managing them.
Approaching solutions for menopause through a holistic lens takes the whole body into consideration for treatment. These natural therapies and health-centered solutions target menopausal symptoms for active relief through lifestyle changes and supplemental factors.
The Stages Of Menopause: When Does It End
It is possible to divide the menopausal period into three distinct stages:
- Perimenopause: the months or years leading up to the final menstrual period
- Menopause: officially defined as 12 months after the final menstrual period
- Post-menopause: from 12 months after the final menstrual period onward
Perimenopause usually begins in a womans mid-40s. However, it can happen much earlier or later in some women. The exact duration of the perimenopause can also differ greatly.
Some women experience symptoms for several years before their final period. Others might not notice any significant changes until their periods stop altogether.
This makes it very difficult to predict precisely when menopause will end. However, some factors that might play a role include:
- Age of puberty
If you’re wondering how to lose weight during menopause, these tips will help you in your journey to better health throughout your menopause years.
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Prolonged And Heavy Bleeding During Menopause Is Common
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ANN ARBORWomen going through menopause most likely think of it as the time for an end to predictable monthly periods. Researchers at the University of Michigan say its normal, however, for the majority of them to experience an increase in the amount and duration of bleeding episodes, which may occur at various times throughout the menopausal transition.
The researchers from the U-M School of Public Health and U-M Health System offer the first long-term study of bleeding patterns in women of multiple race/ethnicities who were going through menopause. They say the results could impact patient care and alleviate undue concern about what to expect during this life stage that can last anywhere from 2-to-10 years.
For most women in their 30s, menstrual periods are highly predictable. With the onset of the menopausal transition in their 40s, womens menstrual periods can change dramatically. These dramatic changes can be disconcerting and often provoke questions about whether something is wrong, said Sioban Harlow, U-M professor of epidemiology.
Women need more descriptive information about the bleeding changes they can expect. We need clear guidance to help women understand what changes in bleeding patterns do and do not require medical attention.
The study, Menstruation and the Menopausal Transition, is reported in the current issue of BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Keeping An Active Sex Life
Menopause can reduce a persons sex drive and lead to vaginal dryness, but it also removes the need for birth control. For some, this can make sex more enjoyable.
Having sex often can increase vaginal blood flow and help keep the tissues healthy.
Some tips for maintaining sexual health and activity during menopause include:
- staying physically active
- avoiding tobacco products, recreational drugs, and alcohol
- taking the time to become aroused, which will improve lubrication
- doing Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor
- not using any strong soaps around the vagina, as these can worsen irritation
Also, menopause symptoms lead some people to find satisfying forms of sex that do not involve the vagina as much or at all.
It is worth remembering that, while a woman cannot become pregnant once menopause starts, it is still important to use barrier protection during penetrative sex to protect against sexually transmitted infections.
Often, sexual partners will be getting older and may be experiencing menopause at the same time. They, too, may be feeling a drop in sex drive. Opening up about any concerns can help both partners feel better and explore new forms of intimacy.
Menopause is a stage in life, not an illness. Most women experience natural menopause during midlife. However, surgery and other factors can cause menopause to start earlier.
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When To See A Doctor
At the onset of perimenopause, a person may wish to schedule regular doctor visits for preventive healthcare.
Around perimenopause, doctors may recommend certain health screenings that sometimes include a colonoscopy, mammogram, and blood tests.
An individual should not hesitate to seek a doctors care and advice to deal with disruptive menopausal symptoms. If vaginal bleeding occurs after menopause, a person should also seek medical attention.
When Does Menopause Occur And How Long Does It Last
The onset of menopause varies between women, but it usually begins around 45-55 years of age. Some could have them before they even reach 40, while others could have them as late as 60 years old. For example, the average age for onset of menopause for an American Woman is 51 years old.
Most women start to manifest menopause symptoms about 4 years before their last period. These symptoms often continue for another 4 years from their last period. Some women may experience menopause symptoms a decade earlier than when menopause occurs, and 1 in 10 women may experience these symptoms for up to 12 years following their last period.
Several factors such as genetics and ovary health may help determine when you will begin menopause. When your hormones begin to change in preparation for menopause, it is called perimenopause, and it can last anywhere from a few months to several years. Perimenopause begins in many women in their late 40s, but other women may skip this phase and enter menopause suddenly.
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What Triggers A Hot Flash
There are quite a few normal things in your daily life that could set off a hot flash. Some things to look out for include:
- Tight clothing.
- Stress and anxiety.
Heat, including hot weather, can also trigger a hot flash. Be careful when working out in hot weather this could cause a hot flash.
When Does Menopause Start
Though menopause is defined as starting one year after the end of a person last period, they may begin experiencing symptoms earlier.
According to the North American Menopause Society, the average age for a woman to reach menopause in the United States is 51 years. However, this age range varies. Menopause may happen early when a woman is in her forties or later when she is in her late 50s.
The onset of menopause can also follow surgery that reduces ovarian function or hormones, such as a hysterectomy, where a surgeon removes the uterus, or surgery or other treatments for cancer. In these circumstances, symptoms may begin rapidly as an adverse effect of these procedures.
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Who Can I Talk To
Though theres still stigma and embarrassment around the menopause, its important to know that youre not alone and theres support out there.
Try to be open about your symptoms with your partner, family and friends it can help them to understand what youre going through and could reduce any embarrassment about symptoms.
Sharing experiences with other women going through the same thing could be reassuring. There are many websites, blogs and videos online where women have shared their stories of the menopause.
How Long Is Menopause
The perimenopausal stage can last from 10 months to four years on average, but has been known to last up to 10 years. It involves the body gradually decreasing in estrogen production until the last year or two, when estrogen levels drop dramatically. Perimenopause officially ends when a woman does not have her period for 12 consecutive months.
The woman is now at menopause. This is a point in time, rather than a period of time. The period of time after menopause is called postmenopause. Perimenopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats may continue for another few months or even years after menopause has been reached.
Other symptoms that may continue are sleep problems, cognitive issues, mood changes and muscle and joint pain. Vaginal dryness is a symptom that will continue and tends to get worse with age. Although, less than 30% of women experience it during perimenopause and only half experience it in postmenopause.
So, how long does menopause last? From the start of perimenopause to the final cessation of all menopausal symptoms, the average transition takes between two and 10 years. There are some women who go through the process more quickly or more slowly than the median time.
If you experience early or late menopause, you may need to add or subtract a year or two to this average timeline. Every woman should rely on medical professionals to assess symptoms, estimate the duration and prescribe treatments for symptom relief.
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What To Expect After Menopause Is Over
Once menopause is over, certain symptoms such as hot flashes should slowly begin to disappear. However, other issues such as vaginal dryness and low libido may continue even after the final menstrual period has ended.
Furthermore, after menopause, women have an increased risk of several chronic health issues, including:
- Weight gain
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 Does Birth Control Affect Perimenopause Symptoms
Hormonal birth control can help prevent pregnancy and eliminate period symptoms. Similarly, using birth control during perimenopause can help alleviate unpleasant symptoms and even decrease the likelihood of negative health conditions. For instance, the process of menopause may lead to osteoporosis and other bone-related issues, and implementing birth control can help reduce this risk. Additionally, because birth control regulates hormone levels, it can further minimize some of the effects associated with perimenopause such as hot flashes, acne, and vaginal dryness.
It is important to note, however, that hormonal contraceptives can mask perimenopause symptoms. Furthermore, those who take birth control may not recognize when they have reached the perimenopause stage. For this reason, it is crucial to communicate with a doctor in order to better understand what is going on in your body.
Remedies For Vaginal Dryness
- Topical HRT – there are several creams and pessaries containing oestrogen that you can apply from once a day to once a week to relieve symptoms. Doctors recommend you tail them off every few months to check if you still need them. There is also a vaginal ‘ring’ which your doctor can fit, which releases small amounts of oestrogen.
- Replens® – this is a non-hormonal vaginal moisturising cream which you apply every three days. It works much better than water-based gels like K-YJelly® and is available from your pharmacist as well as on prescription.
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Do You Need To Take Calcium Supplements For Menopause
Menopause cannot be prevented however, steps can be taken to help reduce the risk factors for other problems associated with menopause. It is recommended that postmenopausal women consume 1,200 to 1,500 mg of elemental calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D daily.
The least expensive way to obtain calcium is through diet. Diet can easily provide 1,000-1,500 mg of calcium daily. The following foods contain calcium:
- One cup of milk — 300 mg
- One cup of calcium-fortified orange juice — 300 mg
- One cup of yogurt — about 400 mg on average
- One ounce of cheddar cheese — about 200 mg
- Three ounces of salmon — 205 mg
Dietary calcium supplements are a good option for women who cannot consume adequate calcium through diet. Calcium carbonate is the least expensive, although some women complain of bloating. Calcium citrate may be better absorbed by women who take acid-blocking medications, such as ranitidine or cimetidine .
Calcium products made from bone meal, dolomite, or unrefined oyster shells may contain lead and should be avoided. Products with “USP” on the label meet the voluntary quality standards set by the United States Pharmacopeia and are more likely not to contain harmful contaminants.
Women should carefully read the label of calcium supplements to check the exact number of milligrams of elemental calcium in each supplement. The intestinal tract generally does not absorb more than 500 mg of elemental calcium at a time, so calcium intake should be spread out during the day.
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:
How Long Menopause Lasts And The Symptoms
According to a study published in Jama Internal Medicine, menopausal symptoms last around 4.5 years on average after a womans last period and 7.4 years in total. This varies for many women, with some experiencing symptoms that last seven years, or even up to 11. Here are a few of the most common symptoms women experience during menopause:
Menopausal symptoms can be uncomfortable and distracting. Women experiencing any of these symptoms should speak with a medical professional to find the best solutions for their individual needs.
How Long Does The Menopause Last
Symptoms of the menopause can start months or even years before periods stop completely. They usually continue for around 4 years after your last period, though some womens symptoms continue for much longer.
The menopause usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55, but its very difficult to predict when it will take place in an individual.
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Emotional And Cognitive Symptoms
Women in perimenopause often report a variety of thinking and/or emotional symptoms, including fatigue, memory problems, irritability, and rapid changes in mood. It is difficult to determine exactly which behavioral symptoms are due directly to the hormonal changes of menopause. Research in this area has been difficult for many reasons.
Emotional and cognitive symptoms are so common that it is sometimes difficult in a given woman to know if they are due to menopause. The night sweats that may occur during perimenopause can also contribute to feelings of tiredness and fatigue, which can have an effect on mood and cognitive performance. Finally, many women may be experiencing other life changes during the time of perimenopause or after menopause, such as stressful life events, that may also cause emotional symptoms.
How Long Does Menopause Last On Average
If you are going through menopause, youre probably wondering how long the symptoms will last. While the answer to this question is different for every woman, it lasts an average of four or five years. The nature of the symptoms also varies from person to person, and the specific timeline of symptoms is highly variable as well. Heres what you need to know.
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