What Are The Effects Of Early Or Premature Menopause
Women who go through menopause early may have or similar to those of regular menopause.
But some women with early or premature menopause may also have:
- Higher risk of serious health problems, such as and , since women will live longer without the health benefits of higher estrogen levels. Talk to your doctor or nurse about steps to lower your risk for these health problems.
- More severe menopause symptoms. Talk to your doctor or nurse about to help with symptoms if they affect your daily life.
- Sadness or over the early loss of fertility or the change in their bodies. Talk to your doctor if you have symptoms of depression, including less energy or a lack of interest in things you once enjoyed that lasts longer than a few weeks. Your doctor or nurse can recommend specialists who can help you deal with your feelings. Your doctor or nurse can also discuss options, such as adoption or donor egg programs, if you want to have children.
Perimenopause: How To Spot The First Signs Of Menopause
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Medically Reviewed by UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital
Menopause doesnt happen overnight and the symptoms vary from person to person. Many women will ask: How will I know when I start menopause?
Technically, youre in menopause if you havent had a period for 12 straight months. Perimenopause is the time when your body begins to make the transition towards menopause.
Women start perimenopause at different ages. Its a normal phase of life that usually occurs anywhere from a womans early forties to mid-fifties.
The symptoms of menopause can be confusing. Some women experience every symptom, others barely any. And while some symptoms may occur for months, others can last for years. Here are some of the most common early signs of menopause.
If youre still asking yourself, How will I know when I start menopause? visit the Midlife Health Center at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital for more information.
Your Vagina Will Undergo Some Changes
While hot flashes will make you uncomfortable, there will also be some actual physical changes in your body including changes to your vagina. Due to a decrease in estrogen production, the lining in your vagina begins to thin. In addition to thinning, your body also produces fewer secretions, which will lead to vaginal dryness and possible inflammation. This may cause uncomfortable sexual intercourse, redness, and itchiness. This discomfort can lead to a loss of sexual desire. Over-the-counter remedies are available in the form of vaginal lubricants, and there are also prescription options available.
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Hot Flashes And Night Sweats
Random feelings of heat that suddenly come out of nowhere are one of the classic signs of menopause, although they dont happen to every woman. Its common for them to last for a couple of years but they can go on for longer than this. A lot of women experience night sweats too, which can be super disruptive for sleep. Its thought that fluctuating hormone levels affect your bodys ability to regulate temperature, which fools it into thinking that it needs to cool down.
Will I Still Enjoy Sex After Menopause
You should still be able to enjoy sex after menopause. Sometimes, decreased sex drive is related to discomfort and painful intercourse. After treating the source of this pain , many women are able to enjoy intimacy again. Hormone therapy can also help many women. If you are having difficulties enjoying sex after menopause, talk to your healthcare provider.
How Does Menopause Affect Heart Health
People are more likely to develop heart disease after menopause. Lower estrogen levels may be part of the cause. It also could be that other health issues that are more common as people get older. These include gaining weight, becoming less active, and developing high blood pressure or diabetes. You can reduce your risk of these health problems by eating a variety of healthy, nutrient-rich foods. It also helps to stay active and maintain an appropriate weight.
What Are The Symptoms Of Menopause
You may be transitioning into menopause if you begin experiencing some or all of the following symptoms:
- Hot flashes .
- Night sweats and/or cold flashes.
These symptoms can be a sign that the ovaries are producing less estrogen, or a sign of increased fluctuation in hormone levels. Not all women get all of these symptoms. However, women affected with new symptoms of racing heart, urinary changes, headaches, or other new medical problems should see a doctor to make sure there is no other cause for these symptoms.
When To See A Doctor
Many women may feel uncomfortable discussing menopause with their doctor. Dont ignore your symptoms. Your health care provider may recommend several preventive screening procedures when menopause begins. Consult your doctor if you experience vaginal bleeding after menopause.
As with any other major physical change, its important to speak with your doctor about the early signs of menopause. She can help you stay healthy and positive during this life transition, and possibly prescribe treatment if necessary.
If youre still asking yourself, How will I know when I start menopause? visit the Midlife Health Center at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital for more information.
You Notice Other Changes In Your Body
Along with the above signs and symptoms, women in perimenopause and menopause may notice other changes in their bodies. This is because the hormonal shift that happens during menopause can affect multiple parts of the body. Some women may experience:
- Loss of fullness in breasts
- Vaginal dryness or itching
- Hair loss
- Hair growth on body and face
- Skin that feels or looks dry and wrinkled
- Thinning skin
While it seems like a lot will change during menopause, try not to be too anxious about it. Your OB/GYN can tell you about treatments that can help you manage symptoms so you can get through it as easily as possible. At Green Valley OB/GYN, we are committed to providing comprehensive care to women in all stages of life. From the first gynecological exam through menopause management, our team will be with you every step of the way. If you are having signs of menopause, call our Greensboro office at 378-1110 to make an appointment.
When Do I Know That Im Having A Hot Flash
During a hot flash, youll likely feel your body temperature rise. Hot flashes affect the top half of your body, and your skin may even turn red in color or become blotchy. This rush of heat could lead to sweating, heart palpitations, and feelings of dizziness. After the hot flash, you may feel cold.
Hot flashes may come on daily or even multiple times a day. You may experience them over the course of a year or even several years.
Avoiding triggers may reduce the number of hot flashes you experience. These can include:
- consuming alcohol or caffeine
Being overweight and smoking may also make hot flashes worse.
A few techniques may help reduce your hot flashes and their symptoms:
- Dress in layers to help with hot flashes, and use a fan in your home or office space.
- Do breathing exercises during a hot flash to try to minimize it.
Medications such as birth control pills, hormone therapy, or even other prescriptions may help you reduce hot flashes. See your doctor if youre having difficulty managing hot flashes on your own.
Bleeding If You’re On The Pill
If you’re taking the combined pill, you’ll have monthly period-type bleeds for as long as you keep taking the pill.
If you’re taking the progestogen-only pill, your bleeds may be irregular or stop altogether for as long as you keep taking the pill.
The combined pill may also mask or control menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes and night sweats.
These factors can make it hard to know when you’re no longer ovulating and therefore no longer fertile.
Symptoms Of Menopause Include:
- Absence of period for 12 months
- Hot flashes
- Cognitive changes
- Vaginal dryness
- Generalized itching
- Bone loss
Once your period has officially stopped, the estrogen levels in your body will gradually decline also, you will no longer produce another female hormone called progesterone. Such hormonal changes may intensify the hot flashes, mood swings, or other symptoms you may have been experiencing throughout perimenopause, or they may trigger symptoms you have yet to experience. Another physical sign of menopause is bone loss . And although hot flashes usually subside, some women experience hot flashes for the rest of their life.
If you experience these symptoms, the first thing you should do is make an appointment with your provider. As Estrogen therapy can help with the cardiovascular issues that come with menopause, it is recommended that estrogen therapy begin within five years of the last period.
Can I Get Pregnant During Menopause
The possibility of pregnancy disappears once you are postmenopausal, you have been without your period for an entire year . However, you can actually get pregnant during the menopause transition . If you dont want to become pregnant, you should continue to use some form of birth control until you have gone fully through menopause. Ask your healthcare provider before you stop using contraception.
For some women, getting pregnant can be difficult once theyre in their late 30s and 40s because of a decline in fertility. However, if becoming pregnant is the goal, there are fertility-enhancing treatments and techniques that can help you get pregnant. Make sure to speak to your healthcare provider about these options.
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Ht Forms And Regimens
HT comes in several forms:
- Oral tablets or pills
- Vaginal ring
- Topical gel or spray
HT pills and skin patches are considered “systemic” therapy because the medication delivered affects the entire body. The risk for blood clots, heart attacks, and certain types of cancers is higher with hormone pills than with skin patches or other transdermal forms.
Vaginal forms of HT are called “local” therapy. Doctors generally prescribe vaginal applications of low-dose estrogen therapy to specifically treat menopausal symptoms such as vaginal dryness and pain during sex. This type of ET is available in a cream, tablet, or ring that is inserted into the vagina.
“Bioidentical” hormone therapy is promoted as a supposedly more natural and safer alternative to commercial prescription hormones. Bioidentical hormones are typically compounded in a pharmacy. Some compounding pharmacies claim that they can customize these formulations based on saliva tests that show a woman’s individual hormone levels.
The FDA and many professional medical associations warn patients that “bioidentical” is a marketing term that has no scientific validity. Formulations sold in these pharmacies have not undergone FDA regulatory scrutiny. Some of these compounds contain estriol, a weak form of estrogen, which has not been approved by the FDA for use in any drug. In addition, saliva tests do not give accurate or realistic results, as a woman’s hormone levels fluctuate throughout the day.
Calcium And Vitamin D
A combination of calcium and vitamin D can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, the bone loss associated with menopause. The best sources are from calcium-rich and vitamin D-fortified foods.
Doctors are currently reconsidering the use of calcium and vitamin D supplements. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advises that healthy postmenopausal women don’t need to take these supplements. According to the USPSTF, taking daily low-dose amounts of vitamin D supplements , with or without calcium supplements , does not prevent fractures. For higher doses, the USPSTF says there is not enough evidence to make a recommendation. In addition to possible lack of benefit, these supplements are associated with certain risks, like kidney stones.
However, calcium and vitamin D are important nutrients. Supplements may be appropriate for certain people including those who do not get enough vitamin D through sunlight exposure and those who do not consume enough calcium in their diet. They are also helpful for people who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Talk with your doctor about whether or not you should take supplements.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends:
Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium in the stomach and gastrointestinal tract and is the essential companion to calcium in maintaining strong bones.
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Are Menopausal Women Specifically More At Risk For The Coronavirus
According to gynecologist Barb DePree, MD, COVID-19 is not likely to be a significant additional risk to menopausal women per se, but menopause is a time women begin to have increased risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, once they lose the protective effects of estrogen. These co-morbidities definitely increase risk for women who may contract COVID-19.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says age, heart disease, and diabetes can all increase your chance of being severely ill with the Coronavirus. More so, weight gain, which may be caused by menopause, can also complicate matters.
Frustratingly, for women in menopause, a decrease in estrogen could potentially cause increased vulnerability to severe symptoms. There is some investigational research data suggesting estrogen may be somewhat protective for women exposed to the Coronavirus, Dr. DePree says.
Menopause itself can therefore impact immunity, says Dr. DePree. Immunity is a complex issue that is impacted by multiple factors some of which we control, and some less so, she says. The hormone estrogen is shown to have a protective role in women, so women who are not on hormone therapy during menopause might be more at-risk than those without a decline in estrogen.
Menopause is also linked to cancer risk, as well as a decrease in T-cells, the immune systems cells that work to fight off cancer cells and foreign invaders, and which bolster the immune response in general.
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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Home And Lifestyle Remedies
The following steps may reduce symptoms of menopause:
- Dress yourself in layers and go to a cooler place to deal with hot flashes. Avoid anything that triggers your hot flashes. Common triggers include caffeine, hot beverages, alcohol, stress, spicy foods, warm rooms, and hot weather.
- Use over-the-counter silicone or water-based vaginal moisturizers or lubricants to reduce vaginal discomfort.
- Get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverage.
- Practice techniques for relaxation such as guided imagery, deep breathing, meditation, yoga, etc.
- Do pelvic floor exercises such as Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. This helps reduce urinary incontinence.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Include lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in your diet. Avoid sugars, saturated fats, and oils. Also include foods rich in phytoestrogens such as soybeans, lentils, flaxseed, chickpeas, and sage.
- Dont smoke. Smoking increases your chances of developing stroke, heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.
- Exercise regularly. It helps protect against various diseases associated with old age.
Menopause is a natural process which occurs when your ovaries stop releasing eggs. Though you may know that you are entering menopause by its various signs and symptoms, there are tests for menopause that may help you confirm your hunch. During menopause, your hormone levels decrease.
How Do I Know If I Am Going Through Early Menopause
Symptoms of menopause usually begin in your early forties. Anything earlier than this is considered early menopause. Early menopause is not uncommon, and often occurs naturally, however it can also be caused by a variety of outside factors. Talking to your doctor and identifying what triggered premature menopause is the first step in dealing with the symptoms and consequences of premature menopause.
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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 7 years but can last as long as 14 years. During the menopausal transition, the body’s production of estrogen and progesterone, two hormones made by the ovaries, varies greatly. Bones become less dense, making women more vulnerable to fractures. During this period, too, the body begins to use energy differently, fat cells change, and women may gain weight more easily.
Menopause may be triggered by a hysterectomy or surgical removal of the ovaries, which produce hormones. If you have surgery to remove your ovaries or uterus and are not taking hormones, you will experience the symptoms of menopause immediately.
This time in a woman’s life is often full of other transitionsnot just physical ones. Women may be caring for aging parents or relatives, supporting their children as they move into adulthood, or taking on new responsibilities at work.