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.
Buyer Beware: Unproven Nonscientific ‘treatments’ For Hot Flashes
You may have heard about black cohosh, DHEA, or soy isoflavones to treat hot flashes. These products are not proven to be effective, and some carry risks such as liver damage.
Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like substances found in some cereals, vegetables, and legumes , and herbs. They may work in the body like a weak form of estrogen, but they have not been consistently shown to be effective in research studies, and their long-term safety is unclear.
Always talk with your doctor before taking any herb or supplement. Currently, it is unknown whether these herbs or other “natural” products are helpful or safe to treat your hot flashes or other menopausal symptoms. The benefits and risks are still being studied.
Nonhormonal Medications To Treat Hot Flashes
If lifestyle changes are not enough to improve your symptoms, nonhormone options for managing hot flashes may work for you. These may be a good choice if you are unable to take hormones for health reasons, such as not having a uterus, or if you are worried about the potential risks.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of paroxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant, to treat hot flashes. Researchers are studying other antidepressants, which doctors may prescribe for off-label use.
Women who use an antidepressant to help manage hot flashes generally take a lower dose than people who use the medication to treat depression. As with any medication, talk with your doctor about whether this is the right medication for you and how you might manage any possible side effects.
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Menopause And Weight Gain
During this time, a woman’s metabolism is slowing, making it harder to maintain or lose weight. Exercise can be one solution to help menopause-related weight gain. Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart, and weight-bearing exercises to maintain bone strength are two important components of an exercise program. Regular exercise can also help keep weight off and elevate your mood. Even if you weren’t active before, you can start to increase your physical activity at any age.
Symptoms Associated With Hot Flashes
The two signature symptoms of estrogen withdrawl are hot flashes and vaginal dryness, and both are treated pretty well by estrogen. Many women are not distressed by these symptoms and good for them.
But AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired Personsbut as not all members are retired, they are just AARPanyway, AARP did a menopause survey of their female members between 60 and 69, and 72 percent said that menopausal symptoms interfered with their lives and eight percent said it interfered a great deal.
Now, these women were actually about 10 years from their menopause. And when their ovaries stopped working 10 years ago and they’re still having symptoms, 20 percent said that they had vaginal dryness, 24 percent had hot flashes, and 23 percent night sweats. Of course, some had all three symptoms and some had none.
Women with severe hot flashes typically experience them for seven to 15 years, and 15 percent of women with severe hot flashes experience them for more than 15 years. Now, what in the brain makes this hot flash happen? Do only women get them?
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When Should I Call My Doctor
If any of your postmenopause symptoms bother you or prevent you from living your daily life, contact your healthcare provider to discuss possible treatment. They can confirm you have completed menopause and are in postmenopause.
Some questions you might ask are:
- Are these symptoms normal for people in postmenopause?
- Is there treatment for my symptoms?
- Is hormone therapy still an option?
- What can I do to feel better?
If you experience any vaginal bleeding during postmenopause, contact your healthcare provider to rule out a serious medical condition.
How Long Can Hrt Be Safely Used
For many years, women dealt with conflicting data on the risks and benefits of HRT. A new clinical trial studied women for about 18 years and has conclusive data that the worry and grim outlook for HRT are not justified.
They found that women who took some type of HRT for six to seven years didnt have an increase in death when compared to placebo. They didnt have increases in heart attack, stroke, or cancer.
HRT taken by menopausal women for five to seven years does not carry an increased risk of long-term complications.
Menopause Symptoms: Sex Problems
Menopause symptoms can affect sexuality. Along with menopause, women experience lower levels of the hormone estrogen. One of the effects of lowered estrogen levels is a decrease in blood supply to the vagina, which causes vaginal dryness. This can result in painful or uncomfortable intercourse. Water-soluble lubricants can help overcome this problem. If lubricants are not effective, contact your doctor. Vaginal creams and suppositories can be prescribed to ease vaginal dryness.
Another effect of hormonal changes is a change in libido, or sex drive. This may improve or worsen, but it is important to remember that other factors besides menopause can affect libido. Stress, sleep disturbances, medications, and anxiety can all affect sex drive. Your doctor can help you find ways to manage the changes in your sex drive if they occur.
What Causes The Menopause
The menopause is caused by a change in the balance of the body’s sex hormones, which occurs as you get older.
It happens when your ovaries stop producing as much of the hormone oestrogen and no longer release an egg each month.
Premature or early menopause can occur at any age, and in many cases there’s no clear cause.
Sometimes it’s caused by a treatment such as surgery to remove the ovaries , some breast cancer treatments, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or it can be brought on by an underlying condition, such as Down’s syndrome or Addison’s disease.
Page last reviewed: 29 August 2018 Next review due: 29 August 2021
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What Are Hot Flashes A Sign Of Triggers For Hot Flushes
Hot flushes are caused by falling oestrogen levels at menopause. You may notice that they are being triggered by caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol and external heat sources like a hot bath or an overheated room. If so avoid these triggers. For some women, stress and tension cause more frequent hot flushes. And indeed stressing during a hot flush and fanning yourself/taking off layers can make it worse have you noticed?! Women who smoke are more than twice as likely to experience severe hot flushes than women who have never smoked.
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Menopause Symptoms: Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are a common symptom around the time of menopause. A hot flash is a feeling of warmth that tends to be concentrated around the face and neck. It can cause flushing or reddening of the skin in these areas as well as the chest, arms, or back. Hot flashes vary in their intensity and can be followed by sweating and/or chills. Night sweats, waking up drenched in sweat a night, may also occur during hot flashes. Hot flashes at night are a common occurrence for women experiencing the symptoms of menopause.
How Long do Hot Flashes Last?
Hot flashes last anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes, and they may start before menstrual irregularities. Hot flashes may last up to 10 years, but 80% of women will not have any hot flashes after five years. The exact cause of hot flashes is unknown, but they are most likely linked to the hormonal and biochemical changes brought on by decreasing estrogen levels. Women can help reduce the symptoms of hot flashes by dressing in light layers, exercising regularly, using a fan, managing stress, and avoiding spicy foods.
Menopause And Good Nutrition
It’s never too late to start living a healthy lifestyle. Regular checkups should include a measurement of cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Be sure not to skip routine preventive screenings such as mammograms. Consuming plant-based foods that have isoflavones may slightly increase estrogen levels because the plants act like a weak form of estrogen.
Menopause nutrition therapy for some women may include soy protein. Soy is an example of a food that contains isoflavones and may relieve menopause symptoms. Women also tend to have low levels of calcium and iron. Getting enough calcium and iron is extremely important for women transitioning through menopause. You can work with your doctor to establish a plan for a healthy lifestyle including a nutritious diet, physical activity, and stress management skills.
Diet and Nutrition for Menopausal Women
The following are tips to better nutrition for women approaching or past menopause:
- Eat approximately 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day
- Eat approximately 9 milligrams of iron each day
- Eat approximately 21 milligrams of fiber each day
- Eat 1 Â½ cups of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables each day
- Read and understand food labels
- Drink plenty of water
- Cut back on fatty foods
- Limit sugar and salt intake
Soy And Other Plant Sources For Menopause Symptoms
Isoflavones are chemical compounds found in soy and other plants that are phytoestrogens, or plant-derived estrogens. They have a chemical structure that is similar to the estrogens naturally produced by the body, but their effectiveness as an estrogen has been determined to be much lower than true estrogens.
Some studies have shown that these compounds may help relieve hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. In particular, women who have had breast cancer and do not want to take hormone therapy with estrogen sometimes use soy products for relief of menopausal symptoms. However, some phytoestrogens can actually have anti-estrogenic properties in certain situations, and the overall risks of these preparations have not yet been determined.
There is also a perception among many women that plant estrogens are “natural” and therefore safer than hormone therapy, but this has never been proven scientifically. Further research is needed to fully characterize the safety and potential risks of phytoestrogens.
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Menopause Treatment: Natural Remedies
Are natural remedies are good for menopause? Many women try alternative treatments for menopausal symptoms. Certain botanicals, or herbal supplements, are advertised to treat hot flashes and other menopause symptoms. However, the US FDA does not regulate herbal supplements, so they may not always be safe.
Herbal Supplements That Have Been Suggested to Ease Menopause Symptoms
- Vitamin E
- Wild yam
If you decide to try these remedies, or other herbal products, be sure to discuss this with your doctor. Some botanical or herbal supplements can interact with prescription drugs.
Can I Put Off Menopause
Natural menopause is a normal transition process that you cant delay or stop. Even around the age of 35, as your hormones start to transition you may not notice symptoms. By your early to mid-40s, fluctuations of your sex hormones estrogen and progesterone may increase. This is when most women begin to notice symptoms. These symptoms may continue to increase in severity through their late 40s and early 50s until they quit menstruating. No matter what age menopause begins, I always suggest that women focus on techniques that reduce their symptoms so they can feel their best during this important stage in their life.
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Lifestyle Changes To Improve Hot Flashes
Before considering medication, first try making changes to your lifestyle. If hot flashes keep you up at night, lower the temperature in your bedroom and try drinking small amounts of cold water before bed. Layer your bedding so it can be adjusted as needed and turn on a fan. Here are some other lifestyle changes you can make:
- Dress in layers that can be removed at the start of a hot flash.
- Carry a portable fan to use when a hot flash strikes.
- Avoid alcohol, spicy foods, and caffeine. These can make menopausal symptoms worse.
- If you smoke, try to quit, not only for hot flashes, but for your overall health.
- Try to maintain a healthy weight. Women who are overweight or obese may experience more frequent and severe hot flashes.
- Explore mind-body practices. Some early-stage research has shown that hypnotherapy and mindfulness meditation could help with management of hot flashes.
Future Help For Menopause Symptoms
With an aging population, and organizations such as NAMS advocating for the study of menopause and relief of menopausal symptoms, expect more hormonal and non-hormonal medications to become available.
Case in point: “There is a new category of non-hormonal medications that may be FDA-approved in the next year or so for management of hot flashes,” says Faubion. “The NK3 receptor inhibitors are under phase three trials right now, and initial studies are quite promising.”
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What Is Postmenopause
Postmenopause is a term to describe the time after someone has gone through menopause. When you’re in postmenopause, your menstrual period has been gone for longer than 12 consecutive months. At this stage in life, your reproductive years are behind you and you’re no longer ovulating . The menopausal symptoms youve experienced in the past may become milder or go away completely. However, some people continue to experience menopausal symptoms for a decade or longer after menopause.
There are three stages of menopause: perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause.
- Perimenopauseis the time leading up to menopause. It describes a time when hormones start to decline and menstrual cycles become erratic and irregular. You may start to experience side effects of menopause, like hot flashes or vaginal dryness.
- Menopause occurs when youve stopped producing the hormones that cause your menstrual period and have gone without a period for 12 months in a row. Once this has occurred, you enter postmenopause.
- Postmenopause is the time after menopause has occurred. Once this happens, you’re in postmenopause for the rest of your life. People in postmenopause are at an increased risk for certain health conditions like osteoporosis and heart disease.
What Is A Hot Flash
It’s a sudden feeling of heat and sometimes a red, flushed face and sweating. We don’t know exactly what causes them, but they may be related to changes in circulation.
A hot flush is a hot flash plus redness in your face and neck.
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Lifestyle Changes Can Also Help Relieve Hot Flashes
“Hot flashes happen because of low estrogen levels,” says Dr. Mindy Pelz, author of “The Menopause Reset: Get Rid of Your Symptoms and Feel Like Your Younger Self Again,” and a holistic health expert specializing in menopause. “When estrogen plummets in the postmenopausal years, it triggers the hypothalamus to turn up the heat. Because of this, it is imperative that postmenopausal women make their cells receptive to the low levels of estrogen that their body is producing.”
“When estrogen plummets in the postmenopausal years, it triggers the hypothalamus to turn up the heat.”
Pelz suggests two ways to help the cells respond to estrogen better: “First, make yourself insulin sensitive. When insulin surges in the body, estrogen will decline, leaving a postmenopausal woman experiencing hot flashes.”
The best way to balance insulin out, says Pelz is by intermittent fasting.
“The second tip to help postmenopausal woman with hot flashes is to increase consumption of leafy green vegetables,” Pelz says. “Vegetables feed the bacteria in the gut known as the estrobolome. This bacteria breaks down estrogen so that the cell can put estrogen to use. When a postmenopausal woman intermittent fasts and increases her vegetable consumption, hot flashes will diminish.”
While you’ve probably seen or heard about supplements and other over-the-counter remedies for menopause symptoms, there is not much research to support their effectiveness. One exception is magnesium.
When To See A Gp
It’s worth talking to a GP if you have menopausal symptoms that are troubling you or if you’re experiencing symptoms of the menopause before 45 years of age.
They can usually confirm whether you’re menopausal based on your symptoms, but a blood test to measure your hormone levels may be carried out if you’re under 45.
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Will Hormone Therapy Help Prevent Long
The benefits and risks of hormone therapy vary depending on a womans age and her individual history. In general, younger women in their 50s tend to get more benefits from hormone therapy as compared to postmenopausal women in their 60s. Women who undergo premature menopause are often treated with hormone therapy until age 50 to avoid the increased risk that comes from the extra years of estrogen loss.
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