Is Hormone Replacement A Safe Option For Management Of Menopausal Problems
Several hormone therapies are FDA-approved for treatment of hot flashes and prevention of bone loss. The benefits and risks vary depending on the severity of your hot flashes and bone loss, and your health. These therapies may not be right for you. Talk to your doctor before trying any hormone therapies.
Hormone Levels Fluctuate Leading To Menopause
As you approach menopause, the production of female hormones by the ovaries starts to slow down. Hormone levels tend to fluctuate, and you may notice changes in your menstrual cycle such as:
- period cycles may become longer, shorter or totally irregular
- bleeding may become lighter
- bleeding may become unpredictable and heavy .
Eventually, your hormone levels will fall to a point where your ovaries stop releasing eggs, your periods stop and menopause is reached.Although fertility after the age of 45 is low, you still need to use contraception to prevent pregnancy. Its recommended to continue contraception until you have had one year without a natural period if youre over 50 years old, or two years without a natural period if youre under 50.
How Will Menopause Affect Me
Symptoms of menopause may begin suddenly and be very noticeable, or they may be very mild at first. Symptoms may happen most of the time once they begin, or they may happen only once in a while. Some women notice changes in many areas. Some menopausal symptoms, such as moodiness, are similar to symptoms of premenstrual syndrome . Others may be new to you. For example:
- Your menstrual periods may not come as regularly as before. They also might last longer or be shorter. You might skip some months. Periods might stop for a few months and then start up again.
- Your periods might be heavier or lighter than before.
- You might have hot flashes and problems sleeping.
- You might experience mood swings or be irritable.
- You might experience vaginal dryness. Sex may be uncomfortable or painful.
- You may have less interest in sex. It may take longer for you to get aroused.
Other possible changes are not as noticeable. For example, you might begin to lose bone density because you have less estrogen. This can lead to osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak and break easily. Changing estrogen levels can also raise cholesterol levels and increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Talk to your doctor about possible for your menopause symptoms if they bother you.
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When Does Menopause Occur
Although the average age of menopause is 51, menopause can actually happen any time from the 30s to the mid-50s or later. Women who smoke and are underweight tend to have an earlier menopause, while women who are overweight often have a later menopause. Generally, a woman tends to have menopause at about the same age as her mother did.
Menopause can also happen for reasons other than natural reasons. These include:
Premature menopause. Premature menopause may happen when there is ovarian failure before the age of 40. It may be associated with smoking, radiation exposure, chemotherapeutic drugs, or surgery that impairs the ovarian blood supply. Premature ovarian failure is also called primary ovarian insufficiency.
Surgical menopause. Surgical menopause may follow the removal of one or both ovaries, or radiation of the pelvis, including the ovaries, in premenopausal women. This results in an abrupt menopause. These women often have more severe menopausal symptoms than if they were to have menopause naturally.
What Are The Hormonal Changes During Menopause
The traditional changes we think of as “menopause” happen when the ovaries no longer produce high levels of hormones. The ovaries are the reproductive glands that store eggs and release them into the fallopian tubes. They also produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone as well as testosterone. Together, estrogen and progesterone control menstruation. Estrogen also influences how the body uses calcium and maintains cholesterol levels in the blood.
As menopause nears, the ovaries no longer release eggs into the fallopian tubes, and youll have your last menstrual cycle.
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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.
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Are There Any Other Emotional Changes That Can Happen During Menopause
Menopause can cause a variety of emotional changes, including:
- A loss of energy and insomnia.
- A lack of motivation and difficulty concentrating.
- Anxiety, depression, mood changes and tension.
- Aggressiveness and irritability.
All of these emotional changes can happen outside of menopause. You have probably experienced some of them throughout your life. Managing emotional changes during menopause can be difficult, but it is possible. Your healthcare provider may be able to prescribe a medication to help you . It may also help to just know that there is a name to the feeling you are experiencing. Support groups and counseling are useful tools when dealing with these emotional changes during menopause.
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When Does Menopause Occur And How Long Does It Last
The onset of menopause varies between women, but it usually begins around 45-55 years of age. Some could have them before they even reach 40, while others could have them as late as 60 years old. For example, the average age for onset of menopause for an American Woman is 51 years old.
Most women start to manifest menopause symptoms about 4 years before their last period. These symptoms often continue for another 4 years from their last period. Some women may experience menopause symptoms a decade earlier than when menopause occurs, and 1 in 10 women may experience these symptoms for up to 12 years following their last period.
Several factors such as genetics and ovary health may help determine when you will begin menopause. When your hormones begin to change in preparation for menopause, it is called perimenopause, and it can last anywhere from a few months to several years. Perimenopause begins in many women in their late 40s, but other women may skip this phase and enter menopause suddenly.
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?
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What Is Hormone Therapy
During menopause, your body goes through major hormonal changes, decreasing the amount of hormones it makes particularly estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone are produced by the ovaries. When your ovaries no longer make enough estrogen and progesterone, hormone therapy can be used as a supplement. Hormone therapy boosts your hormone levels and can help relieve some symptoms of menopause. Its also used as a preventative measure for osteoporosis.
There are two main types of hormone therapy:
- Estrogen therapy : In this treatment, estrogen is taken alone. Its typically prescribed in a low dose and can be taken as a pill or patch. ET can also be given to you as a cream, vaginal ring, gel or spray. This type of treatment is used after a hysterectomy. Estrogen alone cant be used if a woman still has a uterus.
- Estrogen Progesterone/Progestin Hormone Therapy : This treatment is also called combination therapy because it uses doses of estrogen and progesterone. Progesterone is available in its natural form, or also as a progestin . This type of hormone therapy is used if you still have your uterus.
Hormone therapy can relieve many of the symptoms of menopause, including:
- Hot flashes and night sweats.
- Vaginal dryness.
What Is The Difference Between Premature Menopause And Early Menopause
The difference between premature menopause and early menopause is when it happens. Premature menopause occurs before a woman is 40. Early menopause is when a woman undergoes menopause before age 45.
Many of the causes of premature menopause can also be causes of early menopause. The two types of menopause also share many of the same symptoms.
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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.
Why Does Menopause Happen
Natural menopause menopause that happens in your early 50s and is not caused by surgery or another medical condition is a normal part of aging. Menopause is defined as a complete year without menstrual bleeding, in the absence of any surgery or medical condition that may cause bleeding to artificially stop As you age, the reproductive cycle begins to slow down and prepares to stop. This cycle has been continuously functioning since puberty. As menopause nears, the ovaries make less of a hormone called estrogen. When this decrease occurs, your menstrual cycle starts to change. It can become irregular and then stop. Physical changes can also happen as your body adapts to different levels of hormones. The symptoms you experience during each stage of menopause are all part of your bodys adjustment to these changes.
Treatments For Menopausal Symptoms
Your GP can offer treatments and suggest lifestyle changes if you have severe menopausal symptoms that interfere with your day-to-day life.
- hormone replacement therapy tablets, skin patches, gels and implants that relieve menopausal symptoms by replacing oestrogen
- vaginal oestrogen creams, lubricants or moisturisers for vaginal dryness
- cognitive behavioural therapy a type of talking therapy that can help with low mood and anxiety
- eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly maintaining a healthy weight and staying fit and strong can improve some menopausal symptoms
Your GP may refer you to a menopause specialist if your symptoms do not improve after trying treatment or if you’re unable to take HRT.
Does The Age My Mother Reached Menopause Mean Anything
Most likely your moms age at menopause will provide a clue. When we look at the things that are the greatest determinants for when someone is going to go through menopause, genetics seems to be one of the most important things, says Streicher.
A womans race or ethnicity can influence when she goes through menopause, too, she says. Findings from the Study of Womens Health Across the Nation indicate that women of color tend to begin perimenopause and menopause at earlier ages than white women.
The question I always ask women when they ask when theyre going to go through menopause is, When did your mom go through menopause? because that is very often predictive, says Streicher.
Theres a lot of truth in that. You may follow what happened with your mother if she went through menopause early or late, you may, too, she says.
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Some Of The Most Common Reasons For Overnight Menopause
Overnight menopause is typically brought about by various medical treatments. If you have cancer, undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy of your pelvis can impact your ovaries, ovulation, and your hormone levels. However, the onset of overnight menopause due to cancer treatment is determined by many factors.
Your age is the most significant determinant of whether cancer treatment will induce menopause or not. It also influences the permanency of overnight menopause. If you are closer to forty, chances are that your overnight menopause may be permanent.
The onset and permanence of menopause due to chemotherapy and radiation are also determined by the length of treatment as well as dosage. In the case of chemotherapy, the type of drug can also play a significant role.
Surgical removal of the ovaries can also cause overnight menopause. There are many reasons for this type of surgery, and the onset of menopause can depend on the nature and type of ovary removal surgery. If you have a gene called BRCA, which can be the root cause of breast and ovarian cancer, you may opt to surgically remove your ovaries. Ovary-related conditions like tumors, cysts, and endometriosis can also be incentives for undergoing ovarian removal surgery.
Are There Nonhormonal Options For The Management Of Menopausal Symptoms
Hormone therapy may not be the right choice for you. Some medical conditions may prevent you from safely being able to use hormone therapy or you may choose not to use that form of treatment for your own personal reasons. Changes to your lifestyle may help you relieve many of your symptoms without need for hormonal intervention.
Lifestyle changes may include:
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Why Does Menopause Occur
- Natural menopause occurs when levels of oestrogen and progesterone decline naturally.
- Premature menopause is when periods stop before the age of 40 years. This can be due to many reasons including medical conditions such as diabetes or underactive thyroid , and surgery or medications that have affected the blood supply to the ovaries. Genetic factors may also play a part as premature menopause can run in families. Women who smoke are also more likely to go through premature menopause. Sometimes, however, there is no identifiable cause.
- Artificial menopause is a consequence of surgical removal of both ovaries or destruction of the ovaries by some cancer treatments. With artificial menopause there is a sudden drop in hormone levels and menopausal symptoms begin abruptly. Often the symptoms experienced are more severe than those experienced with natural or premature menopause.
Sleep Problems And Mood Swings
Try these options to avoid sleep problems:
- Avoid large meals, smoking, coffee, or caffeine after noon.
- Avoid napping during the day.
- Avoid exercise or alcohol close to bedtime.
- Drink warm milk or warm caffeine-free tea before bed.
- Sleep in a dark, quiet, and cool room.
- Treat hot flashes to improve sleep.
Easing stress, eating right, and staying physically active can help with mood swings and sleeping problems. Your doctor may also prescribe medication to help with mood swings.
You should talk to your doctor about managing your symptoms and to rule out other conditions that may be causing your symptoms, like depression or asthma. Its also helpful to join a support group for women in menopause so you have a safe place to share your concerns and issues.
Your doctor may also prescribe menopausal hormone therapy to help treat your symptoms. MHT can ease:
- hot flashes
Studies show that women who take MHT are at an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and blood clots. The risks are similar for women using contraceptive pills, patches, and rings. However, women taking MHT are older, and the risks increase with age.
Many women cant take MHT because of a previous illness such as cancer or because they take other medications.
Additional research found that the risk of getting breast cancer can increase with five or more years of continuous MHT use .
Women who have had their uterus removed will use estrogen-only therapy.
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Can I Still Get Pregnant After Being Diagnosed With Premature Menopause Early Menopause Or Primary/premature Ovarian Insufficiency
Unless the ovaries have been surgically removed, it can be difficult to diagnose a woman younger than age 45 with menopause as opposed to primary ovarian insufficiency . Women with POI can have intermittent ovulation, which may or may not be accompanied by a menstrual bleed. Other women may be able to get pregnant through in vitro fertilization with egg donation. It is important to work with a fertility specialist to explore options.
Options available to you will vary depending on whether you have interest in having children in the future. In some cases, fertility may be restored and pregnancy could be possible. Assisted reproductive technology , including in vitro fertilization might be considered.
If you do not want to get pregnant while on hormone-replacement therapy, your doctor will talk to you about contraceptive options.
Talk to your healthcare provider about possible causes of premature or early menopause and your questions regarding fertility.
How Will I Know If Im Going Through Menopause If Ive Had A Hysterectomy
If your uterus was surgically removed through a hysterectomy, you may not know youre going through menopause unless you experience hot flashes.
This can also happen if youve had an endometrial ablation and your ovaries werent removed. Endometrial ablation is the removal of the lining of your uterus as treatment for heavy menstruation.
If you arent having any symptoms, a blood test can determine if your ovaries are still functioning. This test can be used to help doctors find out your estrogen level, which may be beneficial if youre at risk of osteoporosis. Thats because knowing your estrogen status may be important in determining whether you need a bone density assessment.
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