Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Do my symptoms indicate that I might be going through menopause?
- My menstrual cycle is irregular. Could it be caused by something other than menopause?
- Im uncomfortable and/or dont feel well. Is there a way to safely treat my symptoms?
- Ive heard that soy products or herbal supplements may help. Are these effective? Are they good options for me?
- Am I a candidate for hormone replacement therapy?
- What are the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy?
- Am I at risk for heart disease or osteoporosis?
- Do I need any tests, such as bone density screening?
- Now that Im going through menopause, what changes, if any, should I make to my diet and exercise?
When To See A Doctor
There are many different reasons for experiencing hot flashes. While most of them are not serious, you do need to know for sure what is causing them.
If youre having trouble narrowing down the cause of your hot flashes, try keeping track of the episodes. List the details about the outdoor and room temperature at the time that you have one, your diet and activity levels, and any medications that you used. After a few weeks of collecting data, your doctor might be able to help you find a pattern.
Menopause And Typical Symptoms
Women reach menopause once it’s been 12 months since their last menstruation. “The average age of menopause in the U.S. is fifty-two years,” says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, director of Mayo Clinic Women’s Health, medical director of The North American Menopause Society and a National Certified Menopause Practitioner . “But anything after the age of forty-five is considered normal, and about ninety-five percent of us have gone through menopause by the age of fifty-five.”
The most typical symptoms of menopause are hot flashes and night sweats, also known as Vasomotor symptoms . VMS result from a dysfunction in temperature regulation caused by hormone changes. Additional symptoms include sleep and mood disturbances, vaginal dryness, increased urinary frequency and incontinence, even joint pain, according to Faubion.
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Dealing With Hot Flashes
Hot flashes can be a nuisance, but there are several lifestyle changes that may be helpful in dealing with or preventing them.
- Keep the house cool and avoid overly warm environments.
- Dress in light, loose, layered clothing.
- Stay hydrated by sipping cold water.
- Carry a portable fan.
- Avoid alcohol, spicy foods, and caffeine in excess.
- If you smoke, make a plan to quit.
Burden Of Specific Menopausal Symptoms
Additional analyses were conducted to determine the frequency of specific symptoms among those who reported experiencing menopausal symptoms. As reported in , the most common symptoms were hot flashes , night sweats , insomnia/difficulty sleeping , forgetfulness , mood changes , and decreased interest in sex , all of which were reported by more than 40% of women who were experiencing symptoms. The mean number of symptoms was 4.8 .
What Should You Know About Menopause
Menopause is the time when a woman stops having menstrual periods.
What Are the First Signs and Symptoms of Menopause?
Many women experience a variety of symptoms as a result of the hormonal changes associated with the transition to menopause. Around the time of menopause, women often lose bone density, and their blood cholesterol levels may worsen, increasing their risk of heart disease. Examples of these include vaginal dryness, pain during sex and loss of interest in sex, weight gain, and mood swings.
At What Age do Women Go Through Menopause? What is Premenopause?
The average age of U.S. women at the time of menopause is 51 years. The most common age range at which women experience menopause is 48-55 years. Menopause is more likely to occur at a slightly earlier age in women who smoke, have never been pregnant, or live at high altitudes.
Premature menopause is defined as menopause occurring in a woman younger than 40 years. About 1% of women experience premature, or early menopause, which can be caused by premature ovarian failure or cancer.
What Are the Hormonal Changes during Menopause?
The hormonal changes associated with menopause actually begin prior to the last menstrual period, during a 3 to 5 year period sometimes referred to as perimenopause. During this transition, women may begin to experience menopausal symptoms even though they are still menstruating.
What is Surgical Menopause?
Menopause Symptom: Problems Sleeping
Many women in menopause find it hard to sleep through the night. Low levels of progesterone can make it hard to fall and stay asleep. Low estrogen levels can also cause hot flashes that make you sweat while you sleep.6 This is sometimes called night sweats. Many menopausal women get urinary symptoms that make them get up several times during sleep to urinate. You may also feel more tired than usual during the day.
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Everything You Need To Know About Male Menopause And Hot
For women, menopause is a big deal. It sets the boundaries between the reproductive years and the end of reproduction. It makes sense that there is considerably more awareness for female menopause whereas male menopause is still cowering in the shadows of the bigger sister. Most men dont have any idea that they experience male menopause, or even what that means. Lets break down the details.
Q: How Long Will I Get Hot Flashes
A: On average, you may be looking at 10-15 years of living with hot flashes. Though they are sporadic, their unpredictability is very frustrating. Lets look at what you can expect:
- 40s: This is when most women start perimenopause. Some hot flashes and night sweats begin.
- 46-53: In the U.S., this is the average age for menopause, which is defined as 12 straight months with no period. Hot flashes tend to be most frequent in the two years after menopause.
- Late 50s: Most women continue to have hot flashes anywhere from 4-10 years after menopause. But most of these will decrease in frequency and severity.
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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.
Using Hormones To Treat Hot Flashes And Night Sweats
Some women may choose to take hormones to treat their hot flashes or night sweats. A hormone is a chemical substance made by an organ like the thyroid gland or ovary. During the menopausal transition, the ovaries begin to work less effectively, and the production of hormones like estrogen and progesterone declines over time. It is believed that such changes cause hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.
Hormone therapy steadies the levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body. It is a very effective treatment for hot flashes in women who are able to use it. They can also help with , , and maintaining bone density.
Hormone treatments can take the form of pills, patches, rings, implants, gels, or creams. Patches, which stick to the skin, may be best for women with cardiac risk factors, such as a family history of heart disease.
There are risks associated with taking hormones, including increased risk of , , blood clots, breast cancer, gallbladder disease, and . Women are encouraged to discuss the risks with their health care provider. The risks vary by a woman’s age and whether she has had a hysterectomy. Women who still have a uterus would take estrogen combined with progesterone or another therapy to protect the uterus. Progesterone is added to estrogen to protect the uterus against cancer, but it also seems to increase the risk of blood clots and stroke.
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How Employers Can Help
Nicola Green, a consultant in Britain who advises employers on how to support workers going through menopause, recommends that workplaces provide free menstrual products in their bathrooms and access to cold drinking water. If workers are required to wear uniforms, employers should have extra uniforms available so that people can change if necessary. She also advises workplaces to allow employees to work from home, or have flexible hours, when they are experiencing menopause symptoms.
People who are completely sleep deprived, or may be suffering from the most horrendous periods that make them really struggle to leave the house, they can manage that so much better by working at home, she said. When workers arent given these accommodations, she added, they may instead call in sick.
Fran Poodry, 51, who works in customer service at an educational technology company in Portland, Ore., recalled a time several years ago when she woke up and couldnt stop crying. I explained to my supervisor that it was perimenopause since I was not sad or upset, she said. I just was helpless to turn off the tears and snot due to hormones,.
She told her supervisor that she might need to come into work late or work from home when symptoms were bad, and he told her that was fine. I really am very lucky that my workplace is so accommodating, she said. Nowadays, with Zoom, I can attend a meeting from home if I needed. Or I can work from home entirely.
Menopause Symptoms: Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are a common symptom around the time of menopause. A hot flash is a feeling of warmth that tends to be concentrated around the face and neck. It can cause flushing or reddening of the skin in these areas as well as the chest, arms, or back. Hot flashes vary in their intensity and can be followed by sweating and/or chills. Night sweats, waking up drenched in sweat a night, may also occur during hot flashes. Hot flashes at night are a common occurrence for women experiencing the symptoms of menopause.
How Long do Hot Flashes Last?
Hot flashes last anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes, and they may start before menstrual irregularities. Hot flashes may last up to 10 years, but 80% of women will not have any hot flashes after five years. The exact cause of hot flashes is unknown, but they are most likely linked to the hormonal and biochemical changes brought on by decreasing estrogen levels. Women can help reduce the symptoms of hot flashes by dressing in light layers, exercising regularly, using a fan, managing stress, and avoiding spicy foods.
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Other Vitamins Herbs And Supplements
There are many other supplements and substances that have been used as treatments for symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, including:
- vitamin E,
For more information, please read our Alternative Treatments for Hot Flashes article.
Scientific studies to prove the safety and effectiveness of these products in relieving hot flashes have not been adequately performed.
Are You Postmenopausal And Still Having Hot Flashes Youre Not Alone
Hot flashes are supposed to get better with time, but that’s not always the case. So, what solutions are available for women?
Editors note: In honor of Menopause Awareness Month, we are running a series of stories about menopause. Our goal is to illuminate a topic that is sometimes shrouded in misinformation and shame. We hope to change that.
Did you think your hot flashes and night sweats would stop after your last period? Not so fast. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but menopausal symptoms can continue after menopause, sometimes for many years. And it’s more common than you might think.
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What Are The 34 Symptoms Of Menopause
When you think of a woman going through menopause, you might think of symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, or mood swings.
These symptoms receive a lot of attention due to the fact that there are over-the-counter and prescription drug remedies designed especially to target them. However, the symptoms of menopause are actually far more complex than these companies let on!
In total, there are 34 different symptoms that can be attributed to menopause. A woman going through menopause might experience some or all of these symptoms, ranging from mild to severe.
Read on to learn more about the menopause process and how it might affect a womans health and well-being.
What Lifestyle Changes Ease Symptoms Of Menopause
Hot flashes: Several nonprescription treatments are available, and lifestyle choices can help. Many women feel that regular aerobic exercise can help reduce hot flashes, but controlled studies have not proved any benefit. Foods that may trigger hot flashes, such as spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol, should be avoided.
Heart disease: A low-fat, low-cholesterol diet helps to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Weight gain: Regular exercise is helpful in controlling weight.
Osteoporosis: Adequate calcium intake and weight-bearing exercise are important. Strength training can strengthen bones.
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Menopause Symptom: Memory Problems
You might become forgetful or have trouble focusing. As many as two-thirds of women going through perimenopause say they have problems with memory or trouble focusing.10 Menopausal hormone therapy does not treat or prevent memory loss or brain diseases, including dementia and Alzheimers disease. In a recent study, memory problems were linked to depression and loss of sleep but not to levels of the hormone estrogen.10
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.
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New Treatments May Bring Relief For Women With Hot Flashes
The good news? Several therapies are currently under investigation for vasomotor symptom management. In a presentation at the NAMS Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, held September 2225, 2021, Dr. Faubion, who is also the medical director of NAMS, highlighted a few promising treatments, some of which are already approved for other conditions and others that are novel compounds not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration .
Here’s a breakdown of some of the newer treatment options.
Oxybutynin, an older drug used for overactive bladder, has recently been shown to successfully decrease hot flashes, says Faubion. At Mayo we did a study in 2019 looking at oxybutynin for hot flashes, and the researchers found that it reduces hot flashes by roughly 77 percent in the trials very effective, she says.
One concern is that its an anticholinergic, a class of drugs that in some studies have been linked to dementia risk when used long-term in older people this population has other comorbidities, though, making it difficult to establish causation. Its unclear if use of this drug for a couple of years in midlife for menopause symptoms would have any adverse impact, says Faubion.
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Sharons Hot Flushes Start From Her Toes Travelling As A Tremendous Heat Through Her Body
What happened with me the very first signs I had was around about a year ago when I started to experience hot flushes. And they became so bad at one stage that I would be stripping off in front of people just literally ripping my clothes off to the extent that I had to go somewhere private just to cool right the way down. If I could bottle it, Id make a fortune. Right okay, basically what happens and I cant describe them, its all of a sudden you are totally overcome by a traumatic, tremendous heat inside. Not outside, because you can feel cold outside. But a tremendous heat and it literally starts from your toes and it works right the way throughout your body and you know its travelling. Have you ever tasted Southern Comfort? Have you tasted a little Southern Comfort and as it gets down to your throat and then all of a sudden it sort of just hits your chest. And as it hits your chest, it sort of, I dont know what it does, but it warms up your body. Well you can imagine that happening, not drinking but that is a flush to me and I always used to think Oh I wish I could have them when Im working outside, when Im cold. And switch them on but you cant, theyll come anytime.How often do you get them? Oh gosh, I dont know, I mean my husband could probably pin point it more if Im with him all day long, ten, fifteen, twenty times a day.
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