How Long Do Symptoms Last
Perimenopausal symptoms can last four years on average. The symptoms associated with this phase will gradually ease during menopause and postmenopause. Women whove gone an entire year without a period are considered postmenopausal.
Hot flashes, also known as hot flushes, are a common symptom of perimenopause. One study found that moderate to severe hot flashes could continue past perimenopause and last for a
Researchers also found that Black women and women of average weight experience hot flashes for a longer period than white women and women who are considered overweight.
Its possible for a woman to experience menopause before the age of 55. Early menopause occurs in women who go through menopause before theyre 45 years old. Its considered premature menopause if youre menopausal and are 40 years old or younger.
Early or premature menopause can happen for many reasons. Some women can go through early or premature menopause because of surgical intervention, like a hysterectomy. It can also happen if the ovaries are damaged by chemotherapy or other conditions and treatments.
Are Women Who Arent Experiencing Menopausal Symptoms Still Fertile
No matter when you experience natural menopause, your chances of getting pregnant after the age of 40 are low, says Faubion. But you can still become pregnant as youre transitioning to menopause, and you still need to use birth control if you dont want to conceive, she adds.
Streicher confirms, saying, Fertility and menopause are not the same thing there are plenty of women who are pumping out estrogen and menstruating and are not fertile. If youre sexually active, its important to consult with your doctor before making any decisions about birth control to avoid unwanted pregnancy.
On the other hand, dont assume that just because you are still menstruating that you can get pregnant. Women who are concerned that they may have trouble conceiving or think they may experience menopause early and still want children should discuss options such as egg freezing with their doctor, says Streicher.
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How Postmenopause Affects The Body
We dont fully appreciate the natural hormone estrogen until its gone. This humble hormone is essential for maintaining health throughout a womans body not just the reproductive system. With a decrease in estrogen, your bodys major systems can be affected too.
Heres how estrogen relates to the rest of your body once youre postmenopause.
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What Can I Do To Prevent Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis isnt entirely preventable, but you can take steps to strengthen your bones. Eating foods high in calcium like cheese, yogurt, spinach or fortified cereals can help boost calcium intake. Adding a calcium supplement can also help. Some people also need a vitamin D supplement because it helps their body absorb calcium.
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Mood problems like depression can spike during perimenopause, especially among women who have previously experienced them. Many of our listeners wrote in to say that during perimenopause, they felt incredibly irritable and quick to anger in a way that they had never experienced before.
And of course, many â but not all â women experience hot flashes, though they may not recognize them. “It’s hard, because no one sits us down and teaches us, ‘Here’s what a hot flash feels like,’ ” Stuenkel says. “I’ve seen women who think they’re having panic attacks, or heart palpitations. That can be frightening.”
Other common symptoms include more frequent urinary tract infections, difficulty sleeping through the night, vaginal dryness that can make sex painful, night sweats and a decrease in libido.
What treatments are there for symptoms?
Some symptoms, like heavy or irregular periods, can be managed with an oral contraceptive, which can “shut down the body’s own erratic hormonal fluctuations,” says Stuenkel.
“This can kind of be a lifesaver,” she says. Such medication may help with hot flashes, too.
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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.
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Can Male Menopause Be Treated
If testosterone levels are low, testosterone replacement therapy may help relieve symptoms such as:
- Loss of interest in sex
Just as with hormone replacement therapy in women, testosterone replacement therapy has potential risks and side effects. Replacing testosterone may worsen prostate cancer and increase the risk of heart disease, for example.
If you are considering androgen replacement therapy, talk to a doctor to learn more. Your doctor may also recommend certain lifestyle or other changes to help with some symptoms of male menopause. These include:
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What Is The Difference Between Early And Premature Menopause
Early or premature menopause happens when ovaries stop making hormones and periods stop at a younger age than usual . This can happen naturally or for a medical reason, such as when both ovaries are removed in a hysterectomy.
Early and premature menopause can have the same causes. The only difference is the age at which it happens. Menopause that happens before age 45 is called early menopause. Menopause that happens before age 40 is called premature menopause.
Women who have gone through early or premature menopause cannot get pregnant.
The 34 Symptoms Of Menopause
The average age of menopause is 51. Menopause refers to a period in a womans life when she stops having a menstrual period. Many people think that a woman stops having her period overnight when in reality, menopause is a process that can last for years.
The period leading up to menopause is known as perimenopause. Most women begin perimenopause in their 40s. Some women may experience so few symptoms that they do not realize they have entered perimenopause . However, for others, symptoms can be severe and life-altering.
There are a total of 34 symptoms that can signify the arrival of menopause, which range from mild to disabling in nature.
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Differences By Socioeconomic Status
A number of studies have observed that lower social class, as measured by the womans educational attainment or by her own or her husbands occupation, is associated with an earlier age at natural menopause.,,,,,, However, results from a British birth cohort indicated that early life socioeconomic status was more strongly associated than adult status with age at natural menopause, although even the relation of early life SES was greatly attenuated when adjusted for childhood cognitive ability and having been breastfed. One study found that education was more strongly associated with age at natural menopause than occupation. Most studies that have examined the relation of marital status have found that single women undergo an earlier natural menopause, and this association cannot be explained by nulliparity.,,
Are You Headed Toward Early Menopause
There are many negative health consequences linked to early menopause, including a higher risk of osteoporosis and fracture, heart disease, cognitive impairment and dementia, and early death, says Dr. Faubion.
If you have questions about when youll experience menopause and if you can do anything to change it, keep reading for answers.
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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.
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.
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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.
Vaginal Dryness And Discomfort
Vaginal dryness, itching, and discomfort may start during perimenopause and continue into menopause. A person with any of these symptoms may experience chafing and discomfort during vaginal sex. Also, if the skin breaks, this can increase the risk of infection.
Various moisturizers, lubricants, and medications can relieve vaginal dryness and associated issues.
Learn more about atrophic vaginitis here.
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Increased Risk Of Some Health Conditions
After menopause, the risk of certain health issues appears to increase. Menopause does not cause these conditions, but the hormonal changes involved may play some role.
Osteoporosis: This is a long-term condition in which bone strength and density decrease. A doctor may recommend taking vitamin D supplements and eating more calcium-rich foods to maintain bone strength.
Cardiovascular disease: The American Heart Association note that, while a decline in estrogen due to menopause may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, taking hormone therapy will not reduce this risk.
Breast cancer: Some types of breast cancer are more likely to develop after menopause. Menopause breast cancer, but hormonal changes involved appear to increase the risk.
Skin changes can also occur around the time of menopause. Find out more.
What Are The Stages
The process happens slowly over three stages:
Perimenopause. Your cycles will become irregular, but they havenât stopped. Most women hit this stage around age 47. Even though you might notice symptoms like hot flashes, you can still get pregnant.
Menopause. This is when youâll have your final menstrual period. You wonât know for sure itâs happened until youâve gone a year without one. Hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep problems, and other symptoms are common in this stage.
Postmenopause. This begins when you hit the year mark from your final period. Once that happens, youâll be referred to as postmenopausal for the rest of your life. Keep in mind that after more than 1 year of no menstrual periods due to menopause, vaginal bleeding isn’t normal, so tell your doctor if you have any ASAP.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Premature Menopause
Symptoms of premature menopause are often the same as those experienced by women undergoing natural menopause and may include:
- Irregular or missed periods
- Periods that are heavier or lighter than usual
- Hot flashes
These symptoms are a sign that the ovaries are producing less estrogen.
Along with the above symptoms, some women may experience:
- You have undergone chemotherapy or radiation
- You or a family member has an autoimmune disorder such as hypothyroidism, Graves’ disease, or lupus
- You have unsuccessfully tried to become pregnant for more than a year
- Your mother or sister experienced premature menopause
What You Can Do To Stay Healthy Postmenopause
Its never been more important to take a proactive role in your health care. Many women suffer unnecessarily from symptoms that can be managed with prescribed treatments or home remedies. Talk to your doctor before you begin taking any new supplement or treatment, including over-the-counter and herbal remedies.
Aside from hormone therapy some of the most common postmenopausal treatments include:
- Hormone therapy: Helps reduce hot flashes and vaginal dryness, and may prevent bone loss.
- Vaginal estrogen: Relieves vaginal dryness, discomfort during sex, and some urinary symptoms.
- Calcium and vitamin D supplements or other osteoporosis treatments: Aids in strengthening bones.
- Vaginal lubricants: Increases comfort during sex.
- Incontinence treatments: Various lifestyle changes and medical options for gaining bladder control.
- Exercise: Stimulates heart and bone health and maintains healthy weight.
- Diet: Helps manage healthy weight.
Postmenopausal health is about a lot more than your ovaries and uterus. Keep up with annual physical exams and schedule those regular preventive screenings, such as mammogram, bone density screening, Pap smear, mole checks, and colonoscopy. Remember your teeth and gums and your eyes, too. Theres never been a better time to focus on your own well-being.
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How Do I Know If I Am In Menopause
Menopause is defined as 12 consecutive months without having a menstrual cycle. If you are currently not having periods, but it has not yet been 12 full months, you might be in menopause, but you cannot be sure until you have gone a full year without having a period.
Some cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can also lead to medical menopause, which can be temporary or permanent.
What Causes Racial Differences In The Menopausal Experience
Dr. Nanette Santoro, professor and E. Stewart Taylor Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, has contributed to the research in SWAN. When asked why women of color experience menopause differently, she says, My educated guess is that a lot of the differences have their basis in lifestyle, SES , and other stressors such as systemic racism and their long-term consequences.
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What Happens And How Does It Feel
For some women this loss of reproductive ability may be deeply felt, and for all women the menopause is a personal experience, not just a medical condition. However, the diminishing release of oestrogen from the ovary as women advance into their 40s is often the cause of symptoms which can be distressing and may need medical attention.
Hot flushes are the most common symptom of the menopause, occurring in three in every four menopausal women. Other common symptoms include night sweats, sleeplessness, vaginal dryness, irritated skin, more frequent urinary incontinence and urinary tract infections, low mood and a reduced interest in sex. Symptoms vary hugely in duration, severity and what impact they have on women.
All the common symptoms of the menopause are associated with a decrease in the bodys production of oestrogen. Oestrogen lack can affect many parts of the body, including the brain, causing changes in emotional well-being, and the skin, influencing its elasticity and thickness.
There is also some evidence that oestrogen deficiency is the cause of some chemical changes in the body which make women after the menopause especially vulnerable to heart disease and stroke.