What Are Menopause Symptoms And Signs
It is important to remember that each woman’s experience is highly individual. Some women may experience few or no symptoms of menopause, while others experience multiple physical and psychological symptoms. The extent and severity of symptoms varies significantly among women. It is also important to remember that symptoms may come and go over an extended period for some women. This, too, is highly individual. These symptoms of menopause and perimenopause are discussed in detail below.
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.
What Are The Long
There are several conditions that you could be at a higher risk of after menopause. Your risk for any condition depends on many things like your family history, your health before menopause and lifestyle factors . Two conditions that affect your health after menopause are osteoporosis and coronary artery disease.
Osteoporosis, a “brittle-bone” disease, occurs when the inside of bones become less dense, making them more fragile and likely to fracture. Estrogen plays an important role in preserving bone mass. Estrogen signals cells in the bones to stop breaking down.
People lose an average of 25% of their bone mass from the time of menopause to age 60. This is largely because of the loss of estrogen. Over time, this loss of bone can lead to bone fractures. Your healthcare provider may want to test the strength of your bones over time. Bone mineral density testing, also called bone densitometry, is a quick way to see how much calcium you have in certain parts of your bones. The test is used to detectosteoporosis and osteopenia. Osteopenia is a disease where bone density is decreased and this can be a precursor to later osteoporosis.
If you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, your treatment options could include estrogen therapy.
Coronary artery disease
- The loss of estrogen .
- Increased blood pressure.
- A decrease in physical activity.
- Bad habits from your past catching up with you .
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How Long Do Perimenopause And Menopause Last
Perimenopause, sometimes referred to as menopausal transition, starts when a woman begins experiencing changes in her menstrual cycle , as well as symptoms related to a decline in estrogen levelsmost notably hot flashes.
The majority of women enter perimenopause sometime in their 40s, with the average age being 47. Perimenopause then ends when a woman has not had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months this is termed menopause.
Note that perimenopause refers to a period of time whereas menopause refers to a point in timea common misunderstanding and source of confusion.
The period of time after menopause is called postmenopause. During postmenopause, a woman has not had a menstrual cycle for over a year, although she may still be experiencing symptoms related to estrogen deficiency like vaginal atrophy.
The average length of perimenopause is four years, so the mean age at which a woman reaches menopause is 51 years old. Of course, though, this is simply an average and does not predict the precise duration of time for any individual woman.
On Average Menopause Begins Around Age 52
Kathi Valeii is a freelance writer covering the intersections of health, parenting, and social justice.
Menopause occurs after a person stops having their period for 12 consecutive months. It naturally happens for many people when they are between the ages of 40 and 58. In the United States, the average age for menopause to start is 52 years.
Certain factors, like never having children and smoking, can make it more likely that menopause will occur earlier.
Before menopause, declining estrogen levels can cause people who menstruate to experience premenopausal symptoms. Menstrual changes, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep problems, and other symptoms are the result of hormonal shifts that are taking place during this time, which is called perimenopause.
Perimenopause can last from two to eight years. On average, people experience perimenopause for four years before menopause begins.
While many people go through menopause in their early fifties, there are a number of unique factors that determine at what age a person will start menopause, as well as what their experience will be like.
What Are The First Signs Of Perimenopause
Generally, the first sign of perimenopause is irregular periods. Most people will go from having fairly predictable menstrual cycles to unpredictable cycles. A lot of people also experience the most common signs of menopause like hot flashes and vaginal dryness fairly early into the menopause transition.
Does The Age My Mother Reached Menopause Mean Anything
Most likely your moms age at menopause will provide a clue. When we look at the things that are the greatest determinants for when someone is going to go through menopause, genetics seems to be one of the most important things, says Streicher.
A womans race or ethnicity can influence when she goes through menopause, too, she says. Findings from the Study of Womens Health Across the Nation indicate that women of color tend to begin perimenopause and menopause at earlier ages than white women.
The question I always ask women when they ask when theyre going to go through menopause is, When did your mom go through menopause? because that is very often predictive, says Streicher.
Theres a lot of truth in that. You may follow what happened with your mother if she went through menopause early or late, you may, too, she says.
Certain medical conditions such as autoimmune problems, issues, and can make a woman go through menopause earlier, adds Streicher.
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Hormone Treatment And Therapy
Estrogen and progesterone therapy
Hormone therapy , or menopausal hormone therapy , consists of estrogens or a combination of estrogens and progesterone . This was formerly referred to as hormone replacement therapy . Hormone therapy controls the symptoms of menopause-related to declining estrogen levels , and HT is still the most effective way to treat these symptoms. But long-term studies of women receiving combined hormone therapy with both estrogen and progesterone were halted when it was discovered that these women had an increased risk for heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer when compared with women who did not receive HT. These risks were most pronounced in women over 60 taking hormone therapy. Later studies of women taking estrogen therapy alone showed that estrogen was associated with an increased risk for stroke, but not for heart attack or breast cancer. Estrogen therapy alone, however, is associated with an increased risk of developing endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women who have not had their uterus surgically removed.
Hormone therapy is available in oral , transdermal forms . Transdermal hormone products are already in their active form without the need for “first pass” metabolism in the liver to be converted to an active form. Since transdermal hormone products do not have effects on the liver, this route of administration has become the preferred form for most women.
How Do I Know If I’m In Menopause
You will know you have reached menopause when you have gone 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period. Contact your healthcare provider if you have any type of vaginal bleeding after menopause. Vaginal bleeding after menopause could be a sign of a more serious health issue like endometrial cancer.
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What About Menopause Symptoms In Their 60s
At this age, any symptoms of hormonal imbalance are most likely postmenopause symptoms, although it is still possible for women to enter menopause in their 60s.
Postmenopause symptoms may include those experienced during perimenopause, like hot flashes and night sweats, but this stage also presents its own list of health complications due to consistently low hormone levels, including osteoporosis, incontinence, dyspareunia, and more.
Symptoms Of Early Menopause
The main symptom of early menopause is periods becoming infrequent or stopping altogether without any other reason .
Some women may also get other typical menopausal symptoms, including:
Read more about the symptoms of the menopause.
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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.
Why Am I Gaining Weight During Perimenopause
The shift in hormones slows down your metabolism. Its very common for women in perimenopause to gain weight once their estrogen levels start to decline. Maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise can help prevent weight gain during the transition to menopause.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Perimenopause is the transition to menopause. During perimenopause, you may start having menopause-like symptoms, such as hot flashes, mood swings or vaginal dryness. Most perimenopause symptoms are manageable. But if you need help managing symptoms, medications and other treatments are available. Perimenopause ends when youve had no period for a full year. At that point, you enter menopause.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/05/2021.
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Understanding The Menopausal Transition
Menopause is a point in time 12 months after a woman’s last period. The years leading up to that point, when women may have changes in their monthly cycles, hot flashes, or other symptoms, are called the menopausal transition or perimenopause.
The menopausal transition most often begins between ages 45 and 55. It usually lasts about seven years but can be as long as 14 years. The duration can depend on lifestyle factors such as smoking, age it begins, and race and ethnicity. During perimenopause, the body’s production of estrogen and progesterone, two hormones made by the ovaries, varies greatly.
The menopausal transition affects each woman uniquely and in various ways. The body begins to use energy differently, fat cells change, and women may gain weight more easily. You may experience changes in your bone or heart health, your body shape and composition, or your physical function.
What The New Research Shows
Much of what we know about how we experience menopause comes from the largest ongoing study of women and menopause, the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation , which began in 1996. Its a multi-site, longitudinal, epidemiologic study focused on the physical, biological, psychological, and social changes during menopause. Women from a variety of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds have participated, giving researchers a glimpse into possible differences in how we all experience the transition.In the US, the median age for reaching menopause is 51. The research in SWAN shows that Black women reach menopause at 49, two years earlier than the national median age. Other SWAN data shows Latina women reach menopause two years earlier than the median age as well. It also appears that Black women spend more time in the menopause transition than white women do.And then there are the differences in hot flashes, one of the most common discomforts of the transition. More Black and Latina women report experiencing vasomotor symptoms than white women do, and Latina women experience more vaginal dryness than other women.
Among the women who report vasomotor symptoms, white women experience hot flashes for around 6.5 years, while for Latinas its 8.9 years, and for Black women its 10 years. Research from the University of Washington shows that Native American women may experience the worst perimenopausal hot flashes of all.
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What Are The Hormonal Changes During Perimenopause
The hormonal changes you experience during perimenopause are mostly caused by declining estrogen levels. Your ovaries make estrogen, which plays a vital role in maintaining the reproductive system. Once you enter perimenopause, your estrogen levels start to decrease. As estrogen decreases, it throws off the balance with progesterone, another hormone produces by the ovaries. These two hormones together are responsible for ovulation and menstruation. Its common for hormone levels to fluctuate during perimenopause to go up and down like a rollercoaster.
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.
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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Common Ages To Experience Symptoms
According to the Office on Womens Health , the average age for menopause in the U.S. is 52 years, and it usually occurs between the ages of 48 and 58 years. It may happen earlier if the person has never had children or if they smoke. Birthing parents and their children assigned female at birth often experience it around the same age.
The changes usually begin in the late 40s, and periods stop on average around 4 years later, but the transition can last between 2 and 8 years. When there has been no menstruation for 12 months, menopause occurs.
Sometimes menopause happens early. Doctors call it premature menopause if it develops before the age of 5% of females.
Symptoms such as hot flashes can start before menopause and may continue for several years after, but each person is different.
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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Lifestyle Factors In Controlling The Symptoms And Complications Of Menopause
Many of the symptoms of menopause and the medical complications that may develop in postmenopausal women can be lessened or even avoided by taking steps to lead a healthy lifestyle.
- Regular exercise can help protect against cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Exercise also has proven mental health benefits.
- Stop smoking
Which types of doctors treat menopausal symptoms?
The symptoms of menopause are often treated by a womanâs gynecologist. Primary care providers, including family medicine specialists and internists, may also treat the symptoms of menopause.
At What Age Does Perimenopause Begin
Perimenopause begins about eight to 10 years before menopause. It usually starts in your mid-40s, but it can start earlier. Completing menopause before age 40 is called premature menopause. Some medical conditions or procedures cause early menopause. If there is no medical or surgical cause for premature menopause, it’s called primary ovarian insufficiency.
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Can I Get Pregnant If I Am In Perimenopause
Yes, you can still become pregnant. You may be less likely to get pregnant during perimenopause, but it’s still possible. As long as you have a period, you can still get pregnant. If you want to expand your family during this time, speak with your healthcare provider about your health, fertility and possible fertility treatment options.
When your periods are irregular, you may be more likely to get pregnant unexpectedly. If you dont want to expand your family at this age, continue using birth control until your healthcare provider tells you its safe to stop. Continue to practice safe sex to prevent sexually transmitted diseases throughout your life.