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.
Cholesterol Changes And Increased Risk Of Heart Disease
A loss of estrogen can cause an increase in LDL cholesterol, sometimes referred to as bad cholesterol. It can also lead to a decrease in HDL, or good cholesterol. This increases your risk of heart disease.
increased six-foldTrusted Source for women ages 35-44, on average. Birth rates have also increased for women over 45. Additionally, birth rates in this age range have increased by 5 percent in 2015. At the same time, many women start to experience menopause symptoms between 45 and 55 years old. The average age for perimenopause is 51, and an estimated 6,000 women in the United States reach menopause every day.
If youre still having menstrual periods, its possible to become pregnant.
What Conditions Can Cause Early Menopause
Certain medical and surgical conditions can influence the timing of menopause.
Surgical removal of the ovaries
The surgical removal of the ovaries in an ovulating woman will result in an immediate menopause, sometimes termed a surgical menopause, or induced menopause. In this case, there is no perimenopause, and after surgery, a woman will generally experience the signs and symptoms of menopause. In cases of surgical menopause, women often report that the abrupt onset of menopausal symptoms results in particularly severe symptoms, but this is not always the case.
The ovaries are often removed together with the removal of the uterus . If a hysterectomy is performed without removal of both ovaries in a woman who has not yet reached menopause, the remaining ovary or ovaries are still capable of normal hormone production. While a woman cannot menstruate after the uterus is removed by a hysterectomy, the ovaries themselves can continue to produce hormones up until the normal time when menopause would naturally occur. At this time, a woman could experience the other symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and mood swings. These symptoms would then not be associated with the cessation of menstruation. Another possibility is that premature ovarian failure will occur earlier than the expected time of menopause, as early as one to two years following the hysterectomy. If this happens, a woman may or may not experience symptoms of menopause.
Cancer chemotherapy and radiation therapy
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Can I Get Pregnant If I Have Gone Through Menopause
No, you cant get pregnant after menopause because ovulation is no longer occurring. Once you have gone 12 months without a period, you are considered to have reached menopause.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Menopause is a natural and normal part of the aging process. Once you are in menopause, you have gone 12 months without a menstrual period. It is common to experience symptoms like vaginal dryness and hot flashes. Be open with your healthcare provider about the symptoms youre experiencing and how they impact your quality of life. They can recommend treatments to manage your symptoms and make you more comfortable.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/05/2021.
You No Longer Get A Period
Menopause does not actually start until you have not had a menstrual period for at least 12 consecutive months. However, many of the signs and symptoms associated with menopause begin in the years leading up to menopause. This time period is called perimenopause.
During perimenopause, menstrual periods often become irregular. Sometimes the menstrual cycle becomes shorter, meaning periods will be closer together. Some months you may not have a period and then it will return and become a bit more regular again. During this time, pregnancy is unlikely but it is still possible. Therefore, you should not discontinue birth control during perimenopause.
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Can Menopause Affect Sleep
Some people may experience trouble sleeping through the night and insomnia during menopause. Insomnia is an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep at night. This can be a normal side effect of menopause itself, or it could be due to another symptom of menopause. Hot flashes are a common culprit of sleepless nights during menopause.
If hot flashes keep you awake at night, try:
- Staying cool at night by wearing loose clothing.
- Keeping your bedroom well-ventilated.
Avoiding certain foods and behaviors that trigger your hot flashes. If spicy food typically sets off a hot flash, avoid eating anything spicy before bed.
Are There Any Menopause Health Risks
The estrogen produced by a womans ovaries before menopause protects against heart attacks and stroke. When less estrogen is made naturally after menopause, women lose much of this protection. At this time, women also may experience increases in other risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. These translate to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke in menopausal women.
Bone loss is another menopausal health risk. During the first 4-8 years of menopause, women have a tendency to lose bone more rapidly. This rapid bone loss is due to decreased levels of estrogen. Too much bone loss can elevate a womans risk of osteoporosis, which increases the risk of bone fractures. The most common areas for bone fractures related to osteoporosis include the hips, wrists and the spine.
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Emotional And Cognitive Symptoms
Women in perimenopause often report a variety of thinking and/or emotional symptoms, including fatigue, memory problems, irritability, and rapid changes in mood. It is difficult to determine exactly which behavioral symptoms are due directly to the hormonal changes of menopause. Research in this area has been difficult for many reasons.
Emotional and cognitive symptoms are so common that it is sometimes difficult in a given woman to know if they are due to menopause. The night sweats that may occur during perimenopause can also contribute to feelings of tiredness and fatigue, which can have an effect on mood and cognitive performance. Finally, many women may be experiencing other life changes during the time of perimenopause or after menopause, such as stressful life events, that may also cause emotional symptoms.
Signs Youre Entering Menopause
Menopause doesnt happen all at one. Before you reach menopause, you go through a transitional period called perimenopause.
Most women start the transition to menopause in their mid-to-late 40s. This transition usually lasts about four years. During perimenopause, your body may give you some hints that things are changing.
Some of the signs and symptoms that youre entering menopause include
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood changes
These symptoms occur due to the fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels. Though hormonal changes may be the root cause of your symptoms, we dont usually check hormone levels in women during perimenopause because levels fluctuate so much.
A blood cholesterol level thats higher than normal may also be a sign youre entering menopause.
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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.
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 people enjoy intimacy again. Hormone therapy can also help many people. If you are having difficulties enjoying sex after menopause, talk to your healthcare provider.
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Uterine Bleeding: What’s Normal What’s Not
One concern for perimenopausal and postmenopausal women is knowing whether irregular uterine bleeding is normal. Most women notice normal changes in their cycle as they approach menopause. Periods are often heavy or more frequent, and they may stop and start. But abnormal uterine bleeding may be a sign of benign gynecologic problems or even uterine cancer. Consult your physician if any of the following situations occur:
- You have a few periods that last three days longer than usual.
- You have a few menstrual cycles that are shorter than 21 days.
- You bleed after intercourse.
- You have heavy monthly bleeding .
- You have spotting .
- You have bleeding that occurs outside the normal pattern associated with hormone use.
When you report abnormal vaginal bleeding, your clinician will try to determine whether the cause is an anatomic problem or a hormonal issue. He or she also will investigate other possible causes. In addition to identifying the cause, he or she will help you manage any excess bleeding, which sometimes leads to anemia.
On rare occasions, postmenopausal women experience uterine bleeding from a “rogue ovulation,” which is vaginal bleeding after a hiatus that may be preceded by premenstrual symptoms such as breast tenderness. Presumably, the ovaries are producing some hormones and maybe a final egg.
Most Common First Symptoms Of Menopause
Once menopause symptoms begin, they can last for part of or the whole menopause transition they can even extend into postmenopause. A few of the most typical initial symptoms of menopause are:
Irregular periods. Irregular periods are usually one of the very first symptoms of menopause for many women. They are characterized by menstrual cycles that are absent, shorter, longer, with more or less bleeding, etc.
Hot flashes. Up to 80 percent of middle-aged women experience hot flashes. They are sensations of extreme heat in the upper body and are frequently accompanied by a rapid heartbeat, heavy sweating, and flushing in the chest, neck, and face.
Night sweats. Night sweats are nocturnal hot flashes that often disrupt a woman’s sleep. They are often associated with sudden and intense heat and perspiration that can lead to bed sheets being soaked, and they can be followed by chills immediately afterwards.
Loss of libido. Loss of libido can be a difficult symptom for a woman to handle as it can be hard to understand why her sex drive has changed if her emotions for her partner have still remained the same. This can impact how she sees herself and her relationship.
Other common symptoms of menopause include:
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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.
Menopause And Mental Health
Many women experience symptoms of anxiety, loss of confidence, brain fog and other symptoms relating to their mental health during menopause.
These psychological symptoms are a result of the changes happening to your body and can have a big impact on your life.
Sometimes these symptoms are not recognised as menopause symptoms, but if you know what to expect, it can help you decide on what to do to manage the symptoms and feelings you are experiencing.
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Hot Flashes And Night Sweats
Perhaps the most popular signs of menopause are hot flashes and night sweats, beginning up to 10 years before true menopause sets in. In the early stages of menopause, hot flashes and night sweats begin a few days before menstruation and then finish after menstruation ends. They are described as a feeling of heat bubbling up from your core and engrossing your whole body, causing you to flush red and to sweat uncontrollably. At night, you may wake up during the middle of the night, sweating and hot, as though you had a high fever. These two symptoms are a very common sign of menopause, affecting 85% of women, and may last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Some women may get many in just one hour, while others will only get them a few times a month. Again, these hot flashes and night sweats are caused by your changing hormones, however stress is known as a large contributor to this symptom. Therefore, reducing stress may help with hot flashes. HRT, however, is one of the best methods to reduce hot flashes and night sweats for most women. For those unable to use hormones or those with a fear of hormones, non-hormonal options are also available.
Emotional Impact Of Early Or Premature Menopause
Premature menopause can be emotionally devastating. Some of the common issues women may face include:
- grief at the prospect of not having children
- fear of ‘growing old before their time’
- concern that their partner wont find them sexually attractive anymore
- self-esteem problems.
Psychological counselling and support groups may help women come to terms with their experience of early or premature menopause.
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Is There A Menopause Test
Your GP might suggest a blood test if youre under 45. This will measure the amount of follicle-stimulating hormone in your blood. If youre over 45, FSH levels become more unpredictable, so a blood test isnt meaningful. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence suggests that for women over 45, diagnosis should be based on menopause symptoms alone.
Early Menopause Signs And Symptoms
For women who have undergone a hysterectomy, cancer treatment or those who suffer from primary ovarian insufficiency, they may experience symptoms much earlier than the average woman.
Early onset menopause symptoms are characterized by the same set of symptoms that affect women naturally going through menopause. The only difference is that for these women, the changes will occur much earlier, possibly as early as the mid-30s or early 40s.
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Anxiety Or Mood Changes
Most of us feel anxious at times, but you might find that things that you can usually cope with make you feel overwhelmed with anxiety. You might also feel upset, sad or angry in situations thatwould not have bothered you before.
These increases in anxiety and mood changes can be caused by hormonal changes.
Can Menopause Be Treated
Menopause is a natural process that your body goes through. In some cases, you may not need any treatment for menopause. When discussing treatment for menopause with your provider, its about treating the symptoms of menopause that disrupt your life. There are many different types of treatments for the symptoms of menopause. The main types of treatment for menopause are:
It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider while you are going through menopause to craft a treatment plan that works for you. Every person is different and has unique needs.
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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.
What Are Hot Flashes
Hot flashes can be a pretty unpleasant symptom of perimenopause and menopause. We dont totally understand the cause of hot flashes.
Most people describe a hot flash as a sudden hot feeling that spreads all over your body but mostly the upper body, like your arms, chest, and face. You may also get sweaty, and your fingers may tingle and your heart may beat faster. A typical hot flash usually lasts anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes.
Hot flashes at night are called night sweats. Sometimes they can get so severe that you soak your sheets with sweat.
Hot flashes are super common. More than 3 out of 4 people have them while going through perimenopause and menopause.
Nothing will make hot flashes stop completely, but there are some things you can do to help get some relief. Wearing light, loose clothes, keeping your room cool, drinking cold liquids, and avoiding alcohol and caffeine can help you stay cool.
Prescription hot flash treatments can be helpful, too. Hormone therapy works best to treat hot flashes, but other medicines like SSRIs and SNRIs and clonidine may also help. Research shows that herbs, vitamins, acupuncture, and reflexology dont help with hot flashes.