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What Happens To Your Body When You Go Through Menopause

What Conditions Cause Premature Menopause

Menopause Weight Gain Series Day 3 – What happens to your body as you move through the menopause.

Your genes, some immune system disorders, or medical procedures can cause premature menopause. Other causes include:

  • Premature ovarian failure. When your ovaries prematurely stop releasing eggs, for unknown reasons, your levels of estrogen and progesterone change. When this happens before youâre 40, it’s called premature ovarian failure. Unlike premature menopause, premature ovarian failure isnât always permanent.

Understand Your Bodys Changes At Menopause

It is important to understand the changes your body is going through before, during and after menopause. There are many different sources of information available. Make sure you seek out reputable websites and brochures that provide up-to-date, non-biased information from organisations that specialise in womens health.

Some examples include:

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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How Is Menopause Diagnosed

If you believe you are going through menopause and have concerns, talk to your doctor. Menopause does not require an official diagnosis unless you want to confirm it. Your doctor may order a blood test to check your hormone levels. They will check for estrogen as well as a follicle-stimulating hormone .

How Menopause Affects The Skin

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Well take a look now at 8 of the main skin problems many women encounter around the time of menopause.

  • Dry Skin: Your skin starts to thin during menopause with the outer layer becoming less efficient at holding water. Estrogen is responsible not only for collagen levels, but also encourages the oils that keep your skin nice and moist. As well as being irritating in its own right and stopping you from looking your best, dry skin can lead to itchy skin.
  • Itchy Skin: At its worst, when your skin dries out too much during the change, you can develop pruritis, a feeling of itchiness making you feel like you want to scratch and keep on scratching. This can develop in the arms and legs, back or chest.
  • Wrinkles: As collagen is lost and also produced in lower amounts during menopause, more skin cells die or atrophy. This results in the appearance of the skin altering and wrinkles appearing.
  • Sweating: Thermoregulatory sweating is a mechanism your body uses to control its internal temperature. During menopause, sweating often increases and is linked to hot flashes.
  • Acne: Hormonal levels going haywire can lead to the unfortunate development of adult acne for many menopausal women. As well as cortisol, stress a common symptom of menopause causes your body to produce androgens. Since androgens can stimulate the oil glands in your skin, this often ends up triggering outbreaks of acne.
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    How Do You Confirm Menopause

    There isnt a specific test to confirm when menopause will happen. Doctors officially diagnose menopause once a woman hasnt had a period for 12 consecutive months. Your doctor can order tests to determine FSH and estrogen levels. Your vaginal pH becomes less acid during menopause, which can be confirmed through a vaginal swab.

    Your Libido May Increase Or Decrease When You Go Through Menopause

    As you’re probably already aware, the hormones in your body are responsible for how much or how little you crave intimacy, as noted by Medical News Today. It’s not surprising, then, that going through menopause will have an impact on your libido, according to OB/GYN Dr. Alyssa Dweck, INTIMINA’s Sexual and Reproductive Health expert. “Hormones including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are variable during the peri-menopausal years and plummet with menopause,” she shared with The List. “Although libido is complicated for women, these hormones are incredibly influential.”

    While this hormonal flux can result in a decreased libido in later stages of menopause, Dweck says that in earlier stages, you might find yourself especially randy. “While this is not universal, many women experience heightened sexual drive during the peri-menopausal years, the four to eight years prior to menopause which is by definition, 12 consecutive months of no menses,” she continued. “During this time, reproductive potential is winding down.” And that’s also when the baby fever might set in, so be aware of that and plan accordingly.

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    How Is Early Menopause Treated Or Managed

    Early menopause generally doesnt require treatment. However, there are treatment options available to help manage the symptoms of menopause or conditions related to it. They can help you deal with changes in your body or lifestyle more easily.

    Premature menopause, however, is often treated since it occurs at such an early age. This helps support your body with the hormones that would normally be made until you reach the age of natural menopause.

    The most common treatment includes hormone replacement therapy . Systemic hormone therapy can prevent many common menopausal symptoms. Or you may take vaginal hormone products, usually in low doses, to help with vaginal symptoms.

    HRT does have risks though. It can increase your chances of heart disease, stroke, or breast cancer.

    Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits to your individual care before starting HRT. Lower doses of hormones may decrease your risk.

    Confirming That The Menopause Has Taken Place

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    Its not always easy to confirm that the menopause has actually happened. Of course, irregular periods and the occasional hot flush are a sign that changes are taking place, but identifying the time of the actual menopause is not so simple, especially if you are taking the Pill or have started Hormone Replacement Therapy for the relief of peri-menopausal symptoms.

    The question may seem irrelevant, but it is helpful to know the date of your last period, not only so that you can respond to symptoms in the most appropriate way, but also for contraceptive purposes. A truly menopausal woman will be infertile and will have no need of contraception. However, most doctors advise menopausal women under 50 to continue with their contraception for two years after their last period and for one year if they are over 50.

    Most doctors will evaluate a womans menopausal status according to her symptoms , pattern of periods, and medical record. It is possible to take a blood test to measure levels of a reproductive hormone known as FSH. However, while elevated FSH levels may be a sign of the menopause, the test is not always accurate and results cant be guaranteed. Measurement of FSH is not required to diagnose perimenopause or menopause in women aged over 45 years.

    This is also the case in those rare instances of premature ovarian Insufficiency, when the hormonal system fails at an early age and the ovaries lose their normal function.

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    When Does Perimenopause Start

    The average age of menopause is 51, and perimenopause symptoms typically begin about four years before your final period. Most women start to notice perimenopause symptoms in their 40s. But perimenopause can happen a little earlier or later, too. The best predictor of when your final period will be is the age at which your mother entered menopause .

    Sex Will Be Different

    As you can imagine, the drastic changes in your hormones lead to changes in sex. Because of the vaginal dryness resulting from declines in estrogen levels, many women experience pain during sex due to the lack of lubrication, and may opt to use an over-the-counter lube to prevent painful intercourse . Beyond that, lowered estrogen levels decrease feelings of arousal in many women. According to one review of existing literature on sexual disfunction in women, 68-86.5% of menopausal women experience sexual problems . This range is actually higher than the number of women experiencing vaginal dryness, which further confirms the effect menopause has on libido.

    Why does this happen? Decreased estrogen levels decrease blood flow to the vaginal tissues, which can cause the tissues to become thinner . The thinner tissues can be less sensitive to sexual stimulation. This can sometimes leave women sexually unfulfilled or even in pain during sexual experiences. Estrogen therapies can help many women engage in comfortable, enjoyable sex as they get older. However, hormone replacement-type therapies should only be pursued under the watchful eyes of your doctor.

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    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.

    Follow The Law And These Terms

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    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?

    What Is The Menopause

    The menopause refers to that time in every womans life when her periods stop and her ovaries lose their reproductive function. Usually, this occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, but in a few exceptional cases women may become menopausal in their 30s, or even younger. This is then known as a premature menopause, or premature ovarian insufficiency.

    The menopause is influenced by hormones or more correctly, by a change in hormone levels. During a womans fertile years, her ability to produce an egg each month is associated with the release of three reproductive hormones , that are referred to collectively as oestrogen. Oestrogen is mainly produced by the ovaries, though small amounts are also made by the adrenal glands and by the placenta of a pregnant woman.

    It is oestrogen which stimulates female characteristics at puberty and controls a womans reproductive cycle: the development and release of an egg each month for implantation in the uterus , and the way in which the lining of the womb thickens to accept a fertilized egg. The monthly period happens because no implantation has taken place there is no pregnancy and the lining of the womb is shed.

    At around the age of 50-55 years, the monthly cycle stops completely so no more ovulations, no more periods and no more pregnancies. This is the menopause.

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    What Are The Complications And Effects Of Menopause On Chronic Medical Conditions


    Osteoporosis is the deterioration of the quantity and quality of bone that causes an increased risk of fracture. The density of the bone normally begins to decrease in women during the fourth decade of life. However, that normal decline in bone density is accelerated during the menopausal transition. Consequently, both age and the hormonal changes due to the menopause transition act together to cause osteoporosis. Medications to treat osteoporosis are currently available and pose less risk than hormone therapy. Therefore, hormone therapy is not recommended for prevention or treatment of osteoporosis.

    Cardiovascular disease

    Prior to menopause, women have a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke when compared with men. Around the time of menopause, however, a women’s risk of cardiovascular disease increases. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the U.S.

    Coronary heart disease rates in postmenopausal women are two to three times higher than in women of the same age who have not reached menopause. This increased risk for cardiovascular disease may be related to declining estrogen levels, but in light of other factors, medical professionals do not advise postmenopausal women to take hormone therapy simply as a preventive measure to decrease their risk of heart attack or stroke.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Perimenopause

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    During perimenopause, you can experience a variety of symptoms. The reason: Your ovaries have been making estrogen since your first period. During perimenopause, the estrogen production decreases substantially. Your body has to adjust to functioning with less of the hormone, putting you into estrogen withdrawals. The type and intensity of symptoms vary greatly among women some just feel a little off or don’t notice anything at all.

    Others can experience perimenopausal symptoms including:

    • Trouble sleeping
    • Feeling irritable, anxious or depressed
    • Night sweats
    • Hot flashes

    About 80 percent of women will experience some form of a hot flash during perimenopause or menopause. Hot flashes happen when your brain has trouble regulating your internal temperature, which is a common response to having less estrogen. The shift in temperature may not be noticeable. Or, it may feel like someone cranked up the thermostat on your core body temperature. You suddenly feel uncomfortably hot and sweaty, or you may wake up drenched in sweat .

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    You Might Develop Or Experience Worsened Anxiety

    Menopause and the subsequent decrease in estrogen can wreak havoc on your system as your body tries to adjust to the changes. Changing levels of hormones can create myriad complications in the body, many of which may lead to anxious feelings . To add insult to injury, the hormone changes can actually affect the brain and cause anxiety.

    Some women and their doctors choose to utilize hormone replacement therapy to combat symptoms of anxiety during this phase of life. In more severe cases, a doctor may prescribe antidepressants to help combat the symptoms. However, many women have reported these medications to have negative effects on their sex lives. Because treatment for many menopausal symptoms is so nuanced, it is important to chat with your doctor about your symptoms. They likely have the knowledge to help ease your symptoms and guide you through this big life change in a graceful manner.

    How Long Does Menopause Last

    The three different phases on menopause can last a few yearsup to five in many cases. Again, the process is different for each individual woman depending on the state of her health and genetic makeup. Some may begin to experience perimenopause ten years before their last period, and others may have it over and done with in just a yearit all really depends.

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    What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy

    Hormone replacement therapy is a treatment for menopause symptoms. It involves taking synthetic hormones . HRT can involve taking estrogen alone or estrogen combined with another hormone, progestin. Some people have found that HRT can relieve menopause symptoms. These symptoms include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and some urinary problems. However, HRT is not for everyone. Recent studies suggest that for most people, the risks of using HRT may outweigh the benefits. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of HRT.

    The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends against the use of combined estrogen and progestin for the prevention of chronic conditions in postmenopausal women. The AAFP also recommends against the use of estrogen for the prevention of chronic conditions in postmenopausal women who have had a hysterectomy.

    According to the AAFP, This recommendation applies to postmenopausal women who are considering hormone replacement therapy for the primary prevention of chronic medical conditions. It does not apply to women who are considering hormone therapy for the management of menopausal symptoms, or to women who have had premature menopause , or surgical menopause.


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