When To See A Doctor
Anyone who is unsure about whether they are entering menopause should see a doctor, who can test for changes in hormone levels.
Also, anyone who wishes to remove their Mirena coil â because menopause has begun, because the coil has expired, or because they wish to change methods of birth control â should see a doctor.
A doctor can also provide support and treatment for menopause symptoms.
Sure Signs Of Menopause
“You’re in menopause.” My doctor said calmly and with almost a little smile-smirk on her face. “Your tests have all come back — and you’re healthy. Sure a little low on iron as you typically are, but now that those pesky periods are gone — that should just correct itself.”
“Menopause? But I’m only 45. Well now 45 and a half and rolling quickly downhill to 46, but surely right now I’m only 45.” I told my doctor – and not with a smirk-smile on my face but rather a more ‘are you fucking kidding’ me look, and my voice was less than quiet.
“Yes, menopause. I mean you might have one or two more periods but your test results show you should be done with them in about six months at the most.”
Menopause. But I’m still young. Right? The only person I could think of who reached menopause in their 40s was Ma Ingalls. Remember that episode when Laura announced her pregnancy and Caroline did too — but it turns out that Caroline was NOT pregnant — she was just in menopause. And then she fell into a deep depression. Yeah, that’s where my mind immediately went. Because I’m a child of the 70s — and children of the 70s just cannot be in menopause yet, right?
Who do you call when you hear the words that you’ve entered menopause? When in your mind menopause is the affliction of grandmothers and doesn’t look like a 45 year old with a four year old child.
Here are 12 signs that you might be menopausal…
Earlier on Huff/Post50:
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
Discuss your perimenopause symptoms with your healthcare provider. It might help to keep a journal of your menstrual cycles including when they start and stop and the amount of bleeding.
Some questions you should ask are:
- Are these symptoms of perimenopause?
- What can I do to relieve my symptoms?
- How long do you think I will have these symptoms?
- Would hormone therapy be an option for me?
- Do I need to start taking medication or vitamins?
- Are there any tests that should be done?
- Can I still become pregnant?
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How To Tell If You Have Early Menopause
To diagnose early menopause correctly women should seek help from their doctor. While the symptoms of early menopause can be very telling, your doctor or gynaecologist will have to perform medical tests to confirm if this is the case. If you suspect you might have early menopause it is advisable to visit a doctor so he/she can perform a diagnose. However, in this OneHowTo article we explain you the symptoms of this condition and the different methods used to determine if you have early menopause.
The symptoms of early menopause are similar to those of normal menopause. Among the most common symptoms are these:
- Changes in your periods
- Lower sex drive
If you experience any of these symptoms and think that you’re still young to have menopause you should call your doctor or gynaecologist and make an appointment.
At your appointment, explain the reasons why you think you have early menopause. Your doctor may perform a physical examination and a pregnancy test to rule out other possible conditions with similar symptoms.
A thyroid condition or pregnancy have similar symptoms of early menopause, but if the doctor rules out these symptoms, he/she might do a blood test to check your levels of estradiol, a form of estrogen. The results of this test may indicate an ovarian insufficiency, which will point as early menopause as the most likely cause.
Research On Risks Of Menopause Hormone Therapy
In 2002, a study that was part of the Women’s Health Initiative , funded by NIH, was stopped early because participants who received a certain combination and dosage of estrogen with progesterone were found to have a significantly higher risk of stroke, heart attacks, breast cancer, dementia, urinary incontinence, and gallbladder disease. This study raised significant concerns at the time and caused many women to become wary of using hormones.
However, research reported since then found that younger women are at less risk and have more potential benefits than was suggested by the WHI study. The negative effects of the WHI hormone treatments mostly affected women who were over age 60 and postmenopausal. Newer hormone formulations seem to have less risk and may provide benefits that outweigh possible risks for certain women during the menopausal transition. Studies continue to evaluate the benefit, risk, and long-term safety of hormone therapy.
Before taking hormones to treat menopause symptoms, about your medical and family history and any concerns or questions about taking hormones. If hormone therapy is right for you, it should be at the lowest dose, for the shortest period of time it remains effective, and in consultation with a doctor.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Perimenopause
Your body has been producing estrogen since puberty. Once your estrogen levels begin to decline, your body has to adjust to the changes in hormones.
The symptoms vary, but most people experience at least one of the following:
- Sleep problems .
- Changes in mood like irritability, depression or mood swings.
The length of time you have symptoms of perimenopause can vary between a few months to many years. The decrease in estrogen also can lead to bone thinning or changing cholesterol levels. Continue to have regular checkups with your healthcare provider to keep an eye on your health.
How Will I Know I Am In Menopause After My Hysterectomy
No periods for 12 months is the common sign that menopause has arrived. But what about for you? Youve had a hysterectomy, so you have hadnt periods in years. How are you going to know when menopause arrives?
No worries. More than likely, menopause is going to arrive with plenty of notice. More than you want.
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What Causes Bleeding During Postmenopause
Bleeding during postmenopause is rarely a cause for concern. However, it does need to be investigated. I read that in about 90 percent of cases, a particular cause for bleeding after menopause will not be found. This is not a cause for alarm, if there is a serious problem it will be identified through investigations. About 10 percent of the time, post-menopausal bleeding is linked to cancer of the cervix or uterus, so it is very important to have it investigated.
- Inflammation and thinning of the lining of your vagina
- Thinning of the lining of your uterus
- Growths in the cervix or uterus which are usually not cancerous
- Thickened endometrium often because of hormone replacement therapy
- Abnormalities in the cervix or uterus
These are generally not serious problems and can be cured relatively easily. Just be sure to contact your healthcare professional to discuss treatment options.
Perimenopause: Rocky Road To Menopause
What are the signs of perimenopause? You’re in your 40s, you wake up in a sweat at night, and your periods are erratic and often accompanied by heavy bleeding: Chances are, you’re going through perimenopause. Many women experience an array of symptoms as their hormones shift during the months or years leading up to menopause that is, the natural end of menstruation. Menopause is a point in time, but perimenopause is an extended transitional state. It’s also sometimes referred to as the menopausal transition, although technically, the transition ends 12 months earlier than perimenopause .
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.
How To Test For Menopause
The reduction in the levels of hormones that results from menopause often leads to a common misconception around testing. You might think that doctors can do a quick test of your hormone levels to find out if youre going through menopause or not. However, womens hormone levels are falling and rising constantly. Because of this, physicians may order multiple hormonal blood tests for menopause at different times during your cycle to get an overall assessment of your hormonal balance.
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Hot Flashes And Night Sweats
One of the major symptoms of menopause, hot flashes can make your whole body uncomfortably warm for a minute or more. Your face flushes, you perspire, and it feels like your heart is racing. You may wake up hot and sweaty at night, even though your room is cool.
What to do: To reduce the discomfort of hot flashes, dress in layers during the day, and in light pajamas at night. Keep a cool bottle of water close at hand, and use an ice pack to cool your pillow at night.
What Medications Are Used To Treat Postmenopausal Symptoms
Hormone therapy could be an option, although healthcare providers often recommend using it for a short amount of time and in people under the age of 60. There are health risks associated with hormone therapy like blood clots and stroke. Some healthcare providers do not recommend using hormone therapy after menopause has ended or if you have certain medical conditions.
Some medications your healthcare provider may consider helping with postmenopausal symptoms are:
- Antidepressants for mood swings or depression.
- Vaginal creams for pain related to sexual intercourse and vaginal dryness.
- Gabapentin to relieve hot flashes.
Oftentimes your provider will recommend lifestyle changes to help manage your symptoms.
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How Do I Stay Healthy After Menopause
It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially as you age and your risk for certain medical conditions increases. Some ways for people in postmenopause to stay healthy include:
- Exercising regularly. Walking, doing yoga or strength training can help lower your risk for many medical conditions.
- Weight-bearing exercises can strengthen your bones and muscles.
- Eating a healthy diet. Foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains should make up the bulk of your diet. Avoid lots of salt or sugar and limit your consumption of alcohol.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Going through menopause can be uncomfortable and present new challenges and health concerns. Speak with your healthcare provider about any symptoms you feel or questions you have. They can help make sure you are supported through this time and get the care you need.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/05/2021.
Getting A Good Nights Sleep During The Menopausal Transition
To improve your sleep through the menopausal transition and beyond:
- Follow a regular sleep schedule. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day.
- Avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening if you can. It may keep you awake at night.
- Develop a bedtime routine. Some people read a book, listen to soothing music, or soak in a warm bath.
- Try not to watch television or use your computer or mobile device in the bedroom. The light from these devices may make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
- Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature, not too hot or too cold, and as quiet as possible.
- Exercise at regular times each day but not close to bedtime.
- Stay away from caffeine late in the day.
- Remember, alcohol wont help you sleep. Even small amounts make it harder to stay asleep.
Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble sleeping. If these changes to your bedtime routine dont help as much as youd like, you may want to consider cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. This problem-solving approach to therapy has been shown to help improve sleep in women with menopausal symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be found through a class or in one-on-one sessions. Be sure that your therapy is guided by a trained professional with experience working with women during their menopausal transition. Your doctor may be able to recommend a therapist in your area.
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Types Of Menopause Tests
As women age, the ovaries become less responsive to follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone , two hormones important for ovulation and regulating menstrual periods. In response, the ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone, causing estrogen levels in the body to decrease and FSH levels to increase.
When testing for menopause is warranted, doctors may order an FSH test to detect elevated levels of FSH in the blood. Measuring FSH can help determine if a woman is perimenopausal or has already gone through menopause.
Because FSH levels naturally fluctuate each month to stimulate ovulation, results of FSH testing should be interpreted with caution and may be misleading. Rather than interpreting a single FSH test result, consistently elevated levels over time are used to confirm menopause.
Additional tests that may be ordered to help a doctor diagnose menopause include:
|TESTS TO EVALUATE MENOPAUSE STATUS|
|Blood, urine, or saliva sample||Level of estradiol in the blood to diagnose menstrual problems|
|Blood sample||A hormone that can predict the start of menopause or determine the reason for early menopause|
Other conditions can cause irregular menstruation or can stop it completely. In some cases, doctors will perform testing to determine whether something other than menopause is affecting menstruation:
|TESTS TO RULE OUT OTHER CONDITIONS|
Blood Test For Menopause
Your doctor may also order certain blood tests for menopause to confirm menopause or rule out any other medical condition such as a thyroid disorder. Some of the blood tests for menopause include:
An FSH test for menopause checks the levels of this hormone in blood, since the ovaries stop working during menopause. This causes the levels of the hormone to rise in menopausal women.
Since menopause may closely resemble hypothyroidism, your physician may order thyroid function tests to assess the health of your thyroid gland. Thats what a thyroid-stimulating hormone test is for. If your thyroid hormones are low, it may indicate that your symptoms are a result of a thyroid problem.
Anti-mullerian hormone is secreted by the ovarian follicles. Physicians consider its level as a measure of the total number of follicles left in a woman. This hormone test for menopause may help your physician predict when you might begin menopause if you arent there already.
Estradiol is the form of estrogen that circulates in your body during your reproductive years. During menopause, its level may decrease by about 10 times the premenopausal level and reach below 30 picograms per milliliter. If your levels of estradiol are consistently low, it may indicate that you are in menopause.
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Are Hormone Levels Or Other Blood Tests Helpful In Detecting Menopause
Because hormone levels may fluctuate greatly in an individual woman, even from one day to the next, they are not a reliable indicator for diagnosing menopause. Even if levels are low one day, they may be high the next day in the same woman. There is no single blood test that reliably predicts when a woman is going through menopause, or menopausal transition. Therefore, there is currently no proven role for blood testing regarding menopause except for tests to exclude medical causes of erratic menstrual periods other than menopause. Menopause is diagnosed based on the lack of menstrual periods for 12 months. The average age women in the U.S. stop having their periods is 51.
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:
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