Common Signs Of Menopause
Menopause is a natural biological process, and although it ends fertility, women can stay healthy, vital, and sexual. Even so, the physical symptoms, such as hot flashes, and emotional symptoms of menopause may disrupt your sleep, lower your energy orfor some womentrigger anxiety or feelings of sadness and loss.
What Are The Stages Of Menopause
- Perimenopause;typically occurs 3-5 years prior to the start of menopause. This stage occurs when your estrogen levels begin to drop and your body begins the transition towards menopause. You can still get pregnant during perimenopause.
- Menopause;is confirmed to have started after youve missed your period for 12 consecutive months. Though every woman is unique and will experience this transition differently, most women enter menopause when they are 51 or 52.
- Postmenopause includes the time after menopause. Estrogen levels continue to decline during this stage, which can cause some menopausal symptoms to linger.
Treatments To Relieve Signs And Symptoms
There is no treatment that can reverse or prevent premature menopause. However, women who have reached menopause do have treatment options that can help control unpleasant symptoms.
Types of treatments for symptom relief include:
- Hormone therapy: hormone therapy is available in different forms including pills, patches, transdermal sprays, or gels or creams. Localized hormone treatments are also available for intravaginal use. HT/ET is the most effective way to control symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Because HT/ET has been associated with certain health risks , experts recommend using the lowest effective dose of hormone therapy for the shortest period of time necessary for symptom control.
- Oral contraceptive pills are a form of HT that is sometimes used to help relieve menopausal symptoms.
- Antidepressant medications: the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and related medications have been shown to be effective in controlling the symptoms of hot flashes in up to 60% of women.
- Non-hormonal vaginal gels, creams, and lubricants can help prevent the symptoms of vaginal dryness.
- Assisted reproductive technologies: in selected cases, pregnancy may be achieved using donor eggs in women with premature menopause.
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Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Safe
A common question is if hormone therapy is safe and whether it can cause it cancer. Hormone Replacement Therapy can increase the risk of Estrogen-dependent Cancer. Its important to see your provider so they can take a thorough history and help determine your risk and whether estrogen is safe for you. There are alternatives such as hormone creams, etc. Theres a lot more options on the market now than there used to be. Everyone is different and your provider can help guide you through this process.
How Is Early Menopause Is Diagnosed
No special tests are needed to determine the absence of menstrual periods, but sometimes women begin having symptoms of menopause and irregular periods. At that point, they may be tested to determine their ovarian function. For example, tests may be done to rule out pregnancy or other causes of missed menstruation, such as certain thyroid diseases. The level of follicle-stimulating hormone is often measured in the blood to determine whether a woman is nearing menopause and to ascertain the functional status of her ovaries. FSH stimulates the ovaries to produce estrogen, so levels of this hormone rise when estrogen levels drop. FSH levels that are higher than 40 mIU/ml are considered diagnostic of the menopause. Levels of ovarian hormones, such as estradiol, may be also measured, as low levels are suggestive of menopause.
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How Is Premature Menopause Treated
The symptoms and health risks of premature menopause, as well as the emotional issues that may result from it, can be managed with the methods similar to those used for natural menopause. Women dealing with infertility that is brought on by premature menopause may want to discuss their options with their doctor or with a reproductive specialist.
How Is Premature Menopause Early Menopause And Primary Ovarian Insufficiency Diagnosed
If you begin to have symptoms of menopause before the age of 40, your healthcare provider will do several tests and ask questions to help diagnose premature or early menopause. These tests can include:
- Asking about the regularity of your menstrual periods.
- Discussing your family history of menopause at an early age.
- Testing your hormone levels .
- Looking for other medical conditions that may be contributing to your symptoms.
Women who have not had a menstrual period for 12 straight months, and are not on any medication that could stop menstruation, may have gone through menopause.
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Overactive Bladder Or Discomfort
Women can also find they have bladder changes during;menopause. If you have this symptom, you might find you need;to urinate more often, you cant hold on or your bladder might;feel full and uncomfortable.
What can you do about your symptoms?
Understanding menopause and developing a strategy to;manage your symptoms can improve your health and lifestyle.;
If your symptoms are bothering you, your doctor can help. Your;doctor can tell you about the changes in your body and offer;options for managing your symptoms. Many treatment options;are available and include:
- Non-hormonal treatment options
- Complementary therapies
If you have any concerns or questions about options;to manage your menopausal symptoms, visit your;doctor or go to the Find an AMS Doctor;on the;AMS website.;
NOTE: Medical and scientific information provided and endorsed by the Australasian Menopause Society might not be relevant to an individuals personal circumstances and should always be discussed with their own healthcare provider. This Information Sheet may contain copyright or otherwise protected material. Reproduction of this Information Sheet by Australasian Menopause Society Members, other health professionals and their patients for clinical practice is permissible. Any other use of this information must be agreed to and approved by the Australasian Menopause Society.
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
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How Is Premature Menopause And Primary Ovarian Insufficiency Treated
Management of the condition can vary depending on why menopause started earlier than normal. Given the health risks associated with early menopause, hormone replacement therapy is routinely recommended to all women with premature menopause or primary ovarian insufficiency, unless there is a compelling reason it cant be used. There is a lot of confusion about the safety of hormone therapies. Many of the risks of hormone therapy used after natural menopause are not thought to apply to women who have premature menopause. It is important to discuss the pros and cons of hormone therapy with your doctor. Some healthcare providers have additional certification in the management of menopause, and these providers will be a valuable resource when receiving conflicting information about the safety of hormone therapy.
Changes To Skin And Hair
Its natural to experience changes in your skin and hair as you age. Loss of fatty tissue and collagen will make your skin drier and thinner, and will affect the elasticity and lubrication of the skin near your vagina and urinary tract, explainsHealthline.
But getting closer to menopause may contribute to these changes as well. Lower levels of estrogen, for instance, may cause hair to feel brittle, dry, or even fall out. Skin may also be more prone to developing wrinkles, as well as acne blemishes and eczema flare-ups.
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What Is Menopause Its A Moment In Time
Menopause is a specific point in time. Menopause occurs when periods stop and youve gone 12 consecutive months since having your last period. Once youve hit that moment, you enter post-menopause.
Reaching menopause means that youre no longer able to bear children. Every woman except for those whove had their ovaries removed before puberty will go through menopause.
When does menopause start?
The average menopause age is around 51. But some women experience menopause in their 40s with a small percentage experiencing menopause even younger. Some women may not reach menopause until their 60s.
Theres no way to know your exact menopause age until it happens, but genetics seem to play a strong role. You may get a general idea of when to expect menopause based on when your family members went through it, particularly your mother.
Genetics arent the only thing that can impact when menopause starts. Medical factors can also influence menopause timing. When the ovaries are removed, symptoms will begin to show immediately.
Certain medical conditions like autoimmune diseases have also been associated with early menopause. Women whove undergone treatments like radiation therapy or chemotherapy are also more likely to show symptoms earlier.
Perimenopause: How To Spot The First Signs Of Menopause
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Medically Reviewed by UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital
Menopause doesnt happen overnight and the symptoms vary from person to person. Many women will ask: How will I know when I start menopause?
Technically, youre in menopause if you havent had a period for 12 straight months. Perimenopause is the time when your body begins to make the transition towards menopause.
Women start perimenopause at different ages. Its a normal phase of life that usually occurs anywhere from a womans early forties to mid-fifties.
The symptoms of menopause can be confusing. Some women experience every symptom, others barely any. And while some symptoms may occur for months, others can last for years. Here are some of the most common early signs of menopause.
If youre still asking yourself, How will I know when I start menopause? visit the Midlife Health Center at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital for more information.
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Psychological Wellbeing & Emotions
The diagnosis of a premature or early menopause can bring many changes and challenges: when menopause does not come at the age and stage of life you expected it to, it can have a major impact on your wellbeing. Women who experience premature or early menopause can be at greater risk of depression, anxiety and mood changes.
It can be very upsetting for some women to experience menopause in their 20s or 30s when they expected it to happen in their late 40s or 50s. Often this is a time of feelings of loss, sadness and grief. These feelings are very common, along with the feelings of losing your body image, fertility, femininity and sexuality, and feeling old before your time.
It can take some time to diagnose a premature or early menopause. Not knowing what is wrong, having no control over symptoms and not knowing what the future holds can be frightening. Some women with early menopause talk of ‘loss of womanhood’ and ‘loss of dreams’.
Associated illnesses, such as cancer and chemotherapy or surgery to remove ovaries, may also alter the course of your life. Plans, dreams and expectations must be re-thought and that can be very challenging and distressing.
During this time, women can experience a sense of loss of control, loss of ability to plan and loss of self-image, but often there is no one with whom to share the grief. Girlfriends might not understand because they are not yet experiencing menopause, and, for some, mothers haven’t yet reached menopause either.
Symptoms Of Early Menopause
The main symptom of early menopause is periods becoming infrequent or stopping altogether without any other reason .
Some women may also get other typical menopausal symptoms, including:
Read more about the symptoms of the menopause.
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The 5 Signs You Might Be Going Through Early Menopause
- Hot flashes and night sweat: the drop in estrogen can lead to your body not being able to regulate its temperature appropriately, leading to sudden flashes of heat and sweating which can occur both during the day and night, and with little warning. Nightsweats can be a significant source of discomfort, where a woman wakes up drenched in sweat.
- Sleep disturbance: the hormonal changes of menopause can cause night sweats and insomnia. As people age, they tend to sleep less and wake earlier this tends to be more common in early menopause, which is essentially ovarian aging.
- Mood changes and difficulty concentrating: the drop in estrogen which accompanies menopause can be met with increased anxiety, depression, and irritability. One may also notice that it is more difficult to concentrate or to remember things.
- Vaginal dryness: estrogen is important to maintaining the vaginal wall lining and moisture. In menopause, the vaginal lining becomes thin and dry and this can lead to irritation, itching, and pain with sex.
- the ovaries produce estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. Which are all important for normal sexual function in the female body. Testosterone also comes from the female adrenal gland. When menopause is reached, the levels of all of these hormones are reduced and this can lead to decreased desire and ability to orgasm.
Risks Of Premature & Early Menopause
The risks of developing osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease are higher for women with premature or early menopause than for women reaching menopause at the expected age. For this reason, it is important that you seek advice and treatment from your doctor.
According to community studies, women who go through premature or early menopause without hormone treatment have a reduced life expectancy by about two years.
The advice below is based on current expert opinion, as there are no studies on women with premature or early menopause that establish which prevention strategies are effective.
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How Does Ovulation Work
Before we begin to understand ovarian failure we need to understand;ovulation. In brief, a female is born with about 2 million ovarian;follicles. As she gets older and reaches puberty she will only have about 300,000-400,000 left. The body does not make any more. These follicles are very important because they mature to be eggs that will be released during ovulation. Now, 300,000 may sound like a lot, but not every follicle becomes a mature egg.
When your menstrual cycle begins, your estradiol levels are low. Your hypothalamus sends out a message to your pituitary gland which then sends out a follicle-stimulating hormone .
This FSH triggers;a few of your follicles to develop into mature eggs. Remember only;one follicle will be the lucky one to become a mature egg. As the;follicles mature they send out another hormone, estrogen. Estrogen;sends a message to the hypothalamus to stop producing FSH. If the;follicles do not mature and produce estrogen to stop the production;of FSH, FSH will continue to produce and rise to high levels.
This is why women with POF are checked for high levels of FSH. Once the levels of estrogen are high enough, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland know that there is a mature egg. A luteinizing hormone is then released; this is referred to as your LH surge.
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 Early Menopause Signs And Symptoms
Early menopause symptoms are similar to those of menopause at a normal age. The menopause process, at any age, is triggered by hormone fluctuations. However, depending on the cause of its onset, the frequency and severity of symptoms may vary.
Women generally start noticing symptoms when they enter perimenopause, the second stage of the menopause process. When it occurs naturally, perimenopause can last up to 10 years or, in the case of surgical removal of reproductive organs, it can be completely bypassed, as the body enters menopause immediately after surgery.
When menopause naturally occurs, symptoms tend to be mild and infrequent. However, when early menopause occurs due to the removal reproductive organs, the body experiences an abrupt decrease in hormone production, increasing the severity and duration of menopause symptoms.
Diagnosis Of Primary Ovarian Insufficiency
If you have irregular periods or have stopped your periods for more than three months, please see your doctor and make sure your doctor includes hormone tests to exclude early menopause.
Your doctor will need to do a full physical examination and investigate the cause of your symptoms.
The criteria for a diagnosis of POI are:
- at least three months without a period
- two blood tests to confirm whether the levels of follicle-stimulating hormone are more than 40IU/l the two tests need to be performed on the third day of your period and at least one month apart.
A doctor is likely to perform the following tests:
- pregnancy test, FSH and Oestradiol
- prolactin this is the hormone usually involved with breastfeeding, but when raised, it causes periods to stop
- transvaginal ultrasound this is an internal ultrasound of the vagina and uterus to check for evidence the ovary is functioning by:
- counting the number and size of the follicles or eggs in the ovary
- measuring the volume of the ovaries
- assessing the thickness of the lining of the uterus or endometrium
- checking for any blockage that is stopping menstrual blood flow.
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