What Happens During Menopause
During menopause your body stops preparing every month for a baby: your ovaries stop releasing eggs, they make less and less of the female hormones oestrogen and progestogen, and eventually, your periods stop.
The reduction in female hormones can cause symptoms such as hot flushes, mood swings, night sweats, anxiety, palpitations, depression, decreased libido, sleep problems and vaginal dryness.
Home Remedies: Plant Estrogens
Isoflavones are chemical compounds found in soy and other plants that are phytoestrogens, or plant-derived estrogens. There is a perception among many women that plant estrogens are “natural” and therefore safer than HT, but medical researchers haven’t proven this scientifically. Most scientific studies have not shown a benefit of phytoestrogens in controlling hot flashes. In addition, there is concern that some phytoestrogens might act like estrogen in some tissues of the body. Therefore, many experts recommend that women who have a history of breast cancer avoid phytoestrogens.
Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators
SERMs are a category of drugs, either synthetically produced or derived from a botanical source, that act selectively as agonists or antagonists on the estrogen receptors throughout the body. The most commonly prescribed SERMs are raloxifene and tamoxifen. Raloxifene exhibits oestrogen agonist activity on bone and lipids, and antagonist activity on breast and the endometrium. Tamoxifen is in widespread use for treatment of hormone sensitive breast cancer. Raloxifene prevents vertebral fractures in postmenopausal, osteoporotic women and reduces the risk of invasive breast cancer.
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What’s The First Sign Of Perimenopause
The first perimenopause sign is typically a disruption of your menstrual cycle. For many women, your period starts earlier or later than normal. For example, if your menstrual cycle has always been 28 days, during perimenopause, your period could come as early as 21 or as late as 35 days. Some women start skipping months entirely and then experience heavier-than-normal periods when they do have them.
Age At Menopause And Your Health
How old you are when you go through the change may have implications for your future health. Past research has linked certain health risks to menopause that occurs either very early or late . Going through menopause at an earlier age has been associated with lower bone density and a higher risk for osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, depression, and in some instances premature death.
While overall later menopause is probably healthier, it is associated with an elevated risk of developing breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers. The average age for menopause is 51, and the women in this study were close to that number, with an average age at menopause of 50.5.
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How Do I Know If I Am In Menopause
Menopause is defined as 12 consecutive months without having a menstrual cycle. If you are currently not having periods, but it has not yet been 12 full months, you might be in menopause, but you cannot be sure until you have gone a full year without having a period.
Some cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can also lead to medical menopause, which can be temporary or permanent.
How Do I Know If I Am Going Through Early Or Premature Menopause
You know you have gone through menopause when you have not had your period for 12 months in a row. If you think you may be reaching menopause early, talk to your doctor or nurse.
- Your doctor or nurse will ask you about your symptoms, such as hot flashes, irregular periods, sleep problems, and vaginal dryness.
- Your doctor or nurse may give you a blood test to measure estrogen and related hormones, like follicle-stimulating hormone . You may choose to get tested if you want to know whether you can still get pregnant. Your doctor or nurse will test your hormone levels in the first few days of your menstrual cycle .
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When Does Perimenopause Start
Perimenopause is the period of transition just before a woman reaches menopause. This period can last from a few months and up to 10 years in some women. Perimenopause usually starts when a woman is in her 40s, although some women start much earlier or later than that. This perimenopausal period stops when a woman reaches menopause, that is, her menstrual cycle stops, no eggs are released by the ovaries and there are much lower levels of hormones like estrogen and progesterone in the body.
Looking After Yourself During Menopause
Menopause is a normal part of life. Allow yourself time to adjust to what you are experiencing and try to get support from others, especially from your partner and family. If they understand what you are going through it will help them know how they can best support you.
Don’t forget about contraception!
- If aged less than 50 years, the general advice is you still need contraception for two years after your final menstrual period .
- If you are aged 50 years or more when you reach menopause, you need to continue to use contraception for at least one year after your final period.
Read more about self-care for menopause
Can Menopause Cause Depression
Your body goes through a lot of changes during menopause. There are extreme shifts in your hormone levels, you may not sleep well because of hot flashes and you may experience mood swings. Anxiety and fear could also be at play during this time. All of these factors can lead to depression.
If you experience any of the symptoms of depression, talk to your healthcare provider. During your conversation, your provider will tell you about different types of treatment and check to make sure there isnt another medical condition causing your depression. Thyroid problems can sometimes be the cause of depression.
At What Age Do Most Women Reach Menopause
The medical definition of menopause is no menstrual bleeding for a year, according to Lauren Streicher, MD, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology and the medical director of the Northwestern Center for Menopause and the Northwestern Center for Sexual Medicine in Chicago.
Most women experience menopause between age 40 and 58, and the average age at menopause is 51, according to the North American Menopause Society.
Many women are surprised when they go through menopause in their forties because they think theyre too young, but its not unusual, says Dr. Streicher.
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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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What Causes The Menopause
The menopause is caused by a change in the balance of the body’s sex hormones, which occurs as you get older.
It happens when your ovaries stop producing as much of the hormone oestrogen and no longer release an egg each month.
Premature or early menopause can occur at any age, and in many cases there’s no clear cause.
Sometimes it’s caused by a treatment such as surgery to remove the ovaries , some breast cancer treatments, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or it can be brought on by an underlying condition, such as Down’s syndrome or Addison’s disease.
Page last reviewed: 29 August 2018 Next review due: 29 August 2021
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A Determination Of Quality Of Life Of Women In Menopausal Period
The concept of quality of life is defined as the perception of the individual about his/her situation in life in the context of the framework of that individuals culture and value systems, goals, expectations, standards and interests. Influenced by a complex number of factors, such as an individuals physical health, psychological status, beliefs, social relations and environment, quality of life is used as an important measurement in assessing health status and the effects of therapies.
In later adult years, the quality of life of women may be adversely affected by the physical and mental changes that may come about in the menopausal transition. Quality of life in menopause is related to the degree to which a woman is able to cope with the changes and symptoms appearing in her body with the onset of menopause and her sense of satisfaction and happiness in her life during this period of transition.
What Is The Average Age Of Menopause
51 is the average age of menopause.
Most women reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, the average being around 51, according to the North American Menopause Society.
Those who experience menopause before the age of 40 are said to have premature menopause, those who experience menopause before the age of 45 are said to have experienced early menopause.
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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 isnt normal, so tell your doctor if you have any ASAP.
Lifestyle Factors In Controlling The Symptoms And Complications Of Menopause
Many of the symptoms of menopause and the medical complications that may develop in postmenopausal women can be lessened or even avoided by taking steps to lead a healthy lifestyle.
- Regular exercise can help protect against cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Exercise also has proven mental health benefits.
- Stop smoking
Which types of doctors treat menopausal symptoms?
The symptoms of menopause are often treated by a womanâs gynecologist. Primary care providers, including family medicine specialists and internists, may also treat the symptoms of menopause.
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What Are The Complications Of Menopause
Menopause occurs alongside a range of lifestyle and metabolic changes in women. These include:
- Heart disease Menopause has a significant impact on a womans risk of getting heart disease.
- Osteoporosis during menopause, your body starts to break down bone tissue more quickly than it replaces it.
- Sex drive Women often find their sexual feelings and desires change around the time of menopause.
These changes are common, and it may help to discuss them with your partner, your doctor or a trusted friend.
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.
Learn more about atrophic vaginitis here.
How Long Will Menopausal Transition Symptoms Last
Menopause is technically one full year without bleeding, and perimenopause is the stage before the final menstrual period, also known as the menopausal transition. Puberty and perimenopause are similar in that they both involve hormonal changes, and the transitions can take place over several years. Some medical organizations, such as the American Osteopathic Association, refer to perimenopause as reverse puberty in women.
According to NAMS, this phase can last four to eight years, and it comes with symptoms caused by hormone fluctuations, such as mood swings, poor sleep, and hot flashes.
The age at which a woman begins perimenopause can help predict how long the transition to menopause will last, according to research published in the journal Menopause in February 2017. The authors found that perimenopause lasted longer in women who started the transition at a younger age, and the women had more symptoms, such as hot flashes.
Diagnosis Of Premature Or Early Menopause
Premature and early menopause is diagnosed using a number of tests including:
- medical history, family history and medical examination
- investigations to rule out other causes of amenorrhoea , such as pregnancy, extreme weight loss, other hormone disturbances and some diseases of the reproductive system
- investigations into other conditions associated with premature or early menopause, such as autoimmune diseases
- genetic tests to check for the presence of genetic conditions associated with premature or early menopause
- blood tests to check hormone levels.
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What Age Does Menopause Start
There are a few different factors that influence when you may enter menopause, including:
- Smoking. People who smoke are more likely to go through menopause sooner and experience more severe symptoms. In fact, a 2012 analysis found a 43% increased risk of menopause occurring before age 50 in women who smoked compared to nonsmokers.
- Family history. If you have a family history of early menopause, you are more likely to experience an early onset too.
- Certain medical conditions, like Turner Syndrome. Turner syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects the X chromosome and can cause ovarian dysfunction, leading to early menopause.
- Surgical removal of your ovaries will lead to menopause but this can be treated with estrogen and/or progesterone replacement or non-hormonal medications. If you have a hysterectomy but your ovaries are not removed, you will continue to produce estrogen so will not likely experience menopausal symptoms like hot flashes. Much of the treatment plan will depend on the age at which you have your ovaries removed.
What Is The Average Age For Women To Stop Experiencing Menopause
The average age for a natural menopause in the U.S. is 51. However, it can occur any time between the ages of 40 and 58. Women who go through menopause before the age of 40 are classified as having premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency.
However, these figures only refer to the age of a woman at her final menstrual period. Unfortunately, menopausal symptoms can last for much longer. They may start as early as a womans 30s and, in some cases, may continue into her 60s.
On average, menopausal symptoms last for around four years after the final period and approximately seven years in total. But some women may suffer from menopausal symptoms for well over 10 years.
Some of the factors which make certain menopausal symptoms more likely include:
- Being African-American
- Stress and anxiety
Therefore, women may be able to reduce the severity and duration of their menopausal symptoms by making some positive lifestyle changes. Maintaining a healthy body weight, stopping smoking, and managing stress could all have beneficial effects.
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What Does This Mean For Women Of Color
You may be experiencing perimenopause symptoms sooner than you expected to. Now is a good time to find a gynecologist who specializes in menopause who can help you through this transition. For many women, perimenopause is a critical opportunity to make some lifestyle changes to support your health through the latter half of your life. Its time to start putting yourself first, so you can serve as the elder your community needs.
The North American Menopause Society has a directory of menopause practitioners by location, where you can find a NAMS-certified menopause practitioner in your area.
See our list of sources for further resources.
How Long Does Menopause Last
Menopause is a single point in time and not a process it is the time point in at which a woman’s last period ends. Of course, a woman will not know when that time point has occurred until she has been 12 consecutive months without a period. The symptoms of menopause, on the other hand, may begin years before the actual menopause occurs and may persist for some years afterward as well.
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How Do You Know When Youre Fully Menopausal
You need to go a full year without a period to say that you are fully menopausal, Dr. , M.D., Yale Clinical Professor of OB-GYN & Reproductive Sciences, tells Womans Day. So if you go, say, six months without a period, and then get one alas, that resets the clock. You need to go another full year without a period to make that full year definition.
Once youve gone a year without a period, youre considered menopausal and you dont need to worry about contraceptives for pregnancy prevention any longer.
But dont let a shorter chunk of time fool you if its only been six months without a period, theres still a risk. I have indeed had three women get pregnant at age 46, Dr. Minkin says. These were women who had gone several months without a period and knew they were perimenopausal, but thought the transition was through. Not so.
Dr. Shen recommends birth control pills to women who are perimenopausal and sexually active because it heads off two problems at once. It alleviates their menopause symptoms and helps protect them against unintended pregnancies, she says.