What Signals The Start Of Menopause
The months or years leading up to menopause are called perimenopause. Your body begins making less estrogen, which causes your ovaries to release fewer eggs. You may skip periods, have irregular bleeding, spotting or heavy bleeding, and mild hot flashes during this time, says obstetrician/gynecologist J. Scott Bembry, MD. Any of this is possible. Its a time for women to be evaluated by their doctor to be sure nothing unusual is going on.
Unless there is a reason not to do so, I often prescribe a birth control pill for women during perimenopause to regulate them until they get to the point of menopause, Dr. Bembry adds. Another option is a special IUD that contains a small amount of progestin to stabilize the uterus. Of course, some women prefer no treatment at all, and thats fine, too.
Once youve gone for a full year without periods, you have reached menopause. There are ways your doctor can determine if you have reached menopause, says Dr. Bembry.
Click play to watch the video or read video transcript.
Are there tests to diagnose menopause?
Those are good indicators that menopause has occurred, if they’re both elevated, but they can be elevated and still subsequently there still may be more ovulation events. The biggest test for menopause and for monitoring menopause is the patient herself. What kind of symptoms are you having? That’s what I base our treatment on, too, is whether those symptoms are being relieved. The best lab is the patient herself.
General Recommendations For Ht
Current guidelines support the use of HT for the treatment of severe hot flashes that do not respond to non-hormonal therapies. General recommendations include:
- HT may be started in women who have recently entered menopause.
- HT should not be used in women who have started menopause many years ago.
- Women should not take HT if they have risks for stroke, heart disease, blood clots, and breast cancer.
- Currently, there is no consensus on how long HT should be used or at what age it should be discontinued. Treatment should be individualized for a woman’s specific health profile.
- HT should be used only for menopause symptom management, not for chronic disease prevention.
Before starting HT, your doctor should give you a comprehensive physical exam and take your medical history to evaluate your risks for:
- Heart disease
- Breast cancer
While taking HT, you should have regular mammograms and pelvic exams and Pap smears. Current guidelines recommend that if HT is needed, it should be initiated around the time of menopause. Studies indicate that the risk of serious side effects is lower for women who use HT while in their 50s. Women who start HT past the age of 60 appear to have a higher risk for side effects such as heart attack, stroke, blood clots, or breast cancer. HT should be used with care in this age group.
Women who should not take hormone therapy include those with the following conditions:
Perimenopause: Rocky Road To Menopause
What are the signs of perimenopause? You’re in your 40s, you wake up in a sweat at night, and your periods are erratic and often accompanied by heavy bleeding: Chances are, you’re going through perimenopause. Many women experience an array of symptoms as their hormones shift during the months or years leading up to menopause that is, the natural end of menstruation. Menopause is a point in time, but perimenopause is an extended transitional state. It’s also sometimes referred to as the menopausal transition, although technically, the transition ends 12 months earlier than perimenopause .
You May Like: Intrarosa Pros And Cons
Why The Menstrual Cycle Stops
Causes of absent menstruation Natural causes most likely to cause amenorrhea include pregnancy, breast-feeding, and menopause. Lifestyle factors may include excessive exercise and stress. Also, having too little body fat or too much body fat may also delay or stop menstruation. Hormonal imbalances may cause amenorrhea.
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.
Read Also: Sweet Potato Hormone Therapy
How To Practice Self
It is vital to take care of your mental and physical health during menopause, which can be a difficult time. Eating well, regular exercise, and practicing self-care can help increase your quality of life.
Sometimes it takes more than self-care. Dont be afraid to talk to your healthcare provider if you are having trouble coping with the demands of daily life. They may be able to offer treatments and coping strategies to ease you through the transitional period.
Does Menopause Make You Look Old
Menopause causes many changes to your skin. Your body stops making as much collagen. You lose some fat under your skin and your skins elasticity drops. That, combined with dryness caused by hormonal changes, can cause sagging especially around the neck, jawline, and cheeks and fine lines and wrinkles.
You May Like: How To Get Rid Of Menopause Apron
How Do You Know You’re In Postmenopause
Your healthcare provider will be able to tell you if you’re in postmenopause based on your symptoms and how long it’s been since your last menstrual period. In some cases, your healthcare provider will take a blood sample and check your hormone levels to confirm you’ve gone through menopause. Remember, you’re not considered to be through menopause until it’s been over one year since youve had a period.
Depression Or Mood Swings
Do you get angry or sad quicker than you used to? Have you lost interest in life or notice unusual fluctuations in your mood? Hormonal changes can affect every part of your body, including your mental health. If youre experiencing depression or unusual mood swings for the first time, its important to talk to a doctor as soon as possible. If youve been diagnosed with a mood disorder in the past, its time to see professionals about your new symptoms. Whatever the cause, its critical to get to get the right treatment to restore your health and improve your quality of life.
Don’t Miss: How Long Does Surgically Induced Menopause Last
Is Hormone Therapy Safe
Menopause hormone therapy, or MHT has been shown by many studies to provide relief from menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes. “It has also been shown to benefit cardiovascular function and help prevent osteoporosis while carrying low risk of breast cancer, venous thromboembolism and stroke in women,” says Dr Farrell.
Unfortunately, due to some misreporting of data from the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative trial, which wrongly suggested HRT caused a sharp rise in the incidence of breast cancer, millions of women around the world still avoid HRT/MHT in the mistaken belief it is unsafe. This may be causing an increase in osteoporosis and earlier death, for example, from heart disease.
“The global consensus among expert medical societies now is that HRT/MHT is low risk in healthy women aged 50-60,” says Dr Farrell. “We would not recommend commencing MHT after 60 years of age, or after 10 years from menopause.”
Some women are instead taking pharmacy compounded hormones, in the mistaken belief they are safer and more natural. “These compounded hormones are not approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration and there are no long-term studies to show their safety and effectiveness,” Dr Farrell says.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Menopause
Estrogen is used by many parts of a womanâs body. As levels of estrogen decrease, you could have various symptoms. Many women experience mild symptoms that can be treated by lifestyle changes such as avoiding caffeine or carrying a portable fan. Some women donât require any treatment at all, but for others, symptoms can be more severe. The severity of symptoms varies greatly around the world and by race and ethnicity.
Here are the most common changes you might notice at midlife. Some may be part of aging rather than directly related to menopause.
Change in your period. This might be what you notice first. Your periods may no longer be regular. They may be shorter or last longer. You might bleed more or less than usual. These are all normal changes, but to make sure there isnât a problem, see your doctor if:
- Your periods happen very close together.
- You have heavy bleeding.
- Your periods last more than a week.
- Your periods resume after no bleeding for more than a year.
Bladder control. A loss of bladder control is called incontinence. You may have a sudden urge to urinate, or urine may leak during exercise, sneezing, or laughing. The first step in treating incontinence is to see a doctor. Bladder infections also can occur in midlife.
You May Like: How To Increase Breast Size After Menopause
Calcium And Vitamin D
A combination of calcium and vitamin D can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, the bone loss associated with menopause. The best sources are from calcium-rich and vitamin D-fortified foods.
Doctors are currently reconsidering the use of calcium and vitamin D supplements. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advises that healthy postmenopausal women don’t need to take these supplements. According to the USPSTF, taking daily low-dose amounts of vitamin D supplements , with or without calcium supplements , does not prevent fractures. For higher doses, the USPSTF says there is not enough evidence to make a recommendation. In addition to possible lack of benefit, these supplements are associated with certain risks, like kidney stones.
However, calcium and vitamin D are important nutrients. Supplements may be appropriate for certain people including those who do not get enough vitamin D through sunlight exposure and those who do not consume enough calcium in their diet. They are also helpful for people who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Talk with your doctor about whether or not you should take supplements.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends:
Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium in the stomach and gastrointestinal tract and is the essential companion to calcium in maintaining strong bones.
When Does Menopause Start
Though menopause is defined as starting one year after the end of a person last period, they may begin experiencing symptoms earlier.
According to the North American Menopause Society, the average age for a woman to reach menopause in the United States is 51 years. However, this age range varies. Menopause may happen early when a woman is in her forties or later when she is in her late 50s.
The onset of menopause can also follow surgery that reduces ovarian function or hormones, such as a hysterectomy, where a surgeon removes the uterus, or surgery or other treatments for cancer. In these circumstances, symptoms may begin rapidly as an adverse effect of these procedures.
Don’t Miss: Sweet Potatoes And Menopause
What Is Menopause And Why Does It Happen
Fun fact menopause is technically only 1 day in your life. Its the 12 month anniversary of your last period. The perfectly natural transition years leading up to that day are whats known as perimenopause. Although many people refer to the overall transition as menopause. Each woman is born with a specific number of eggs in her ovaries. Our ovaries produce two key hormones progesterone and estrogen which regulate menstruation and ovulation. As we approach menopause, production of these hormones by our ovaries decreases. Menopause occurs when the ovaries stop releasing eggs and a woman stops menstruating. Periods often become infrequent as we approach menopause its reaching the 12 month marker that makes it official. The #1 thing women love most about reaching menopause is no more periods, so it can be a welcome change for many.
Not so fun fact while menopause is normal, healthy, and manageable, the transition is unique to each woman and can consist of any of the 34 signs and symptoms of menopause. From hot flashes to vaginal dryness, there are many ways to ease the journey, but most people in their menopause transition do not seek out help. Understanding what to expect is the key to proactive self-care throughout your menopause experience.
Shop All Kindra
Is It Really Worse In Perimenopause
Both PMS and PMDD can worsen during the years of perimenopause. The symptoms may be more severe, and as periods become increasingly irregular, symptoms can be more frequent and certainly much less predictable, making PMDD harder to manage.
Fortunately, PMS and PMDD generally resolve in menopause, when hormones finally level out and the body adjusts to its new normal. However, that doesnt mean women have to suffer with disruptive symptoms for years, waiting for the end of periods.
Loss Of Muscle Mass Or Increased Body Fat Especially In The Belly
Were told its natural for men to go soft as they age, but just like lack of libido, this is often caused by treatable hormone fluctuations. Testosterone helps keep your body fat low and muscle mass high. As testosterone levels decrease, it becomes harder to sustain muscle mass and you become more susceptible to weight gain. If youre working just as hard at the gym as you used to and your diet hasnt changed, theres a chance andropause might be the cause of your weight gain.
Retaining muscle mass and avoiding excess weight are paramount to health and safety as you age. By reaching out to a physician who understands how to address hormonal changes, you can reverse the effects of andropause and support healthy body composition.
What Are The Symptoms Of Early Menopause
Unsurprisingly, the symptoms of early menopause are nearly identical to the symptoms of normal menopause. The symptoms just occur at a younger age.
- Irregular periods
- Periods that are longer or shorter than what is normal for you
- Spotting between periods
- Changes in libido or sexual desire
- Vaginal dryness
If you are experiencing these symptoms before 40, you should be immediately evaluated as it can be a sign of another problem. Also, the sooner you are diagnosed the sooner you can get treatment for menopausal symptoms. But, it needs to be said that even if you have menopause symptoms after 40, your doctor should be consulted so you can talk about options.
You May Like: Does Menopause Cause Dizzy Spells
Why Am I Still Getting Symptoms After Being Menopausal
Many women also write in wanting to know why they’re still getting symptoms well through menopause. Remember that once your periods have stopped for one year, you’re officially menopausal. But your hormones just don’t suddenly stop changing after this year has elapsedyour hormonal balance can continue to fluctuate for a good number of years after that.And for some women, this ongoing hormonal change will continue to trigger menopause symptoms. But if it’s been over four or five years since your periods stopped, you should get things checked out by your doctor just in case.Other health issues can creep in and menopause is often blamed for it. A lot of women will try menopausal remedies and find that they don’t really work, but it’s often because, unbeknownst to them, these menopause-like symptoms are being triggered by other health issues. In this situation, it’s really important to get yourself checked out by your doctor because if the issues are being caused by something else, your doctor will help you sort it out, which will make you feel better in the long run.
What Happens To Your Periods During Menopause
Changes to your periods The first sign of the menopause is usually a change in the normal pattern of your periods. You may start having either unusually light or heavy periods. The frequency of your periods may also be affected. You may have them every 2 or 3 weeks, or you may not have them for months at a time.
Recommended Reading: Perimenopause Dizzy Spells
Will I Still Experience Physical Symptoms During Post
You will experience some bodily changes during post-menopause. After age 55 or so, women enter their post-menopausal years, which is a time when your body adjusts to the lower amount of reproductive hormone production. It can be a fulfilling time for women who no longer have to worry about managing a period or having children. You may experience a few of the perimenopausal symptoms you had during this time, such as hot flashes. Your hair and skin may be drier because estrogen in the body stimulates collagen production which smooths the skin. You also may experience vaginal dryness that makes sex painful. Finally, you may experience some issues with your pelvic floor muscles, which could lead to urinary incontinence.