Your Mood Is All Over The Place
My patients often tell me they feel crazy and dont know whats wrong with them, says Dr. Allmen. It could be onset of new mood symptoms or worsening of existing anxiety or depression. In fact, during menopause, women are two to four times more likely to experience depression.
Hormones might be responsible for these changes in mood. However, issues women tend to face in their 40s and 50s, like stress over worsening health or kids moving out and parents getting older, can also play a role.
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.
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.
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.
Facts You Should Know About Menopause
- Menopause is defined as the absence of menstrual periods for 12 months. It is the time in a woman’s life when the function of the ovaries ceases.
- The process of menopause does not occur overnight, but rather is a gradual process. This so-called perimenopausal transition period is a different experience for each woman.
- The average age of menopause is 51 years old, but menopause may occur as early as the 30s or as late as the 60s. There is no reliable lab test to predict when a woman will experience menopause.
- The age at which a woman starts having menstrual periods is not related to the age of menopause onset.
- Symptoms of menopause can include abnormal vaginal bleeding, hot flashes, vaginal and urinary symptoms, and mood changes.
- Complications that women may develop after menopause include osteoporosis and heart disease.
- Treatments for menopause are customized for each woman.
- Treatments are directed toward alleviating uncomfortable or distressing symptoms.
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What Is Premature Menopause
Menopause that occurs before a person is 40 years old is considered premature. It is also called primary ovarian insufficiency .
Premature menopause may be due to:
Premature menopause can also be induced by:
- A bilateral oophorectomy
- Medical treatments such as cancer or endometriosis treatment
- Illnesses such as
What Is The Normal Age For Menopause
According to the North American Menopause Society, the average word for menopause is 51.
But these averages tend to hide all sorts of nuances and differences. Most women will usually experience menopause some time between the ages of 40 and 58 although it is possible for it to start sooner and later, too.
So, can periods just stop at 49? Yes, they can. But usually menopause is more of a gradual thing than a sudden stop, with periods becoming lighter and/or less regular over a couple of years.
Thats why doctors refer to the three stages of menopause:
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Early Menstruation Age May Mean Early Menopause
Classically, it has been taught that the age of menarche does NOT portend the age of menopause. However, in this pooled analysis women having menarche before the age of 11 and women who had never been pregnant were at a five-fold increased risk for premature menopause and two-fold risk for early menopause, compared with women with menarche after age 12 who had given birth to two or more children.
Premature menopause and early menopause are of concern in terms of higher risks for developing the following chronic diseases:
- Dry eyes
Youve Been Getting More Vaginal And Bladder Infections
When your ovaries stop making estrogen, you can experience vaginal dryness, loss of elasticity, and discomfort or pain with intercourse, says Dr. Allmen. According to research, up to 60 percent of women will report vaginal dryness during menopause. This can also lead to an increased risk for vaginal and bladder infections and incontinence, according to the NIH.
If any of the above symptoms have started happening to you, make an appointment with a gynecologist who is well-versed in menopause to learn what you can do to feel better and get back to your life.
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What Is Perimenopause Its When Menopause Symptoms Begin
Perimenopause or pre-menopause is a word that means around menopause. Perimenopause describes what happens to your body leading up to menopause. This stage typically starts about four to eight years before menopause.
When you enter perimenopause youll probably start to notice some early menopause symptoms like changes to your period or mood shifts. These changes happen because your bodys estrogen and progesterone levels are starting to naturally decline. As your ovaries produce lower amounts of these hormones, your body adapts. Its basically the reverse of what happened to your hormones as a teenager.
How Is Menopause Diagnosed
There are several ways your healthcare provider can diagnose menopause. The first is discussing your menstrual cycle over the last year. If you have gone a full year without a period, you may be postmenopausal. Another way your provider can check if you are going through menopause is a blood test that checks your follicle stimulating hormone level. FSH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland this gland is located at the base of your brain. However, this test can be misleading during the beginning of menopause when your body is transitioning and your hormone levels are fluctuating up and down. Hormone testing always need to be interpreted in the context of what is happening with the menstrual period.
For many women, a blood test is not necessary. If you are having the symptoms of menopause and your periods have been irregular, talk to your healthcare provider. Your provider may be able to diagnose menopause after your conversation.
Will Hormone Therapy Help Prevent Long
The benefits and risks of hormone therapy vary depending on a womans age and her individual history. In general, younger women in their 50s tend to get more benefits from hormone therapy as compared to postmenopausal women in their 60s. Women who undergo premature menopause are often treated with hormone therapy until age 50 to avoid the increased risk that comes from the extra years of estrogen loss.
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.
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Higher Risk Of Heart Disease
The end of menopause means that your age becomes solid. It causes certain health problems and heart disease is one out of the list of when is menopause over. This problem also derives from low levels of estrogen and so, induces various complications from the part of the cardiovascular system. Commonly, this issue can be averted if you follow a healthy lifestyle. Its vital to consult a specialist in this field to define the necessary preventive measures.
Your Skin Suddenly Gets Hot And Splotchy
Chances are that if you go through menopause, youre going to get hot flashes . And they can last way longer than you might expect.
The average time for a woman to have hot flashes is seven years, but some can get them for 20 years, says Dr. Allmen. They are exactly what they sound like: You all of a sudden feel a surge of heat and might see red splotches on your skin. You then might notice heavy sweating or even cold shivering, kind of like when you have the flu.
The exact cause of hot flashes isnt clear, but it is partly due to the drop in estrogen and other hormone changes that happen during menopause.
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Dealing With Perimenopause Symptoms
- Reduce stress as much as possible
- Avoid alcohol, spicy foods, and caffeine
- If you smoke, quit
- Strive to maintain a healthy weight
- Try controlled-breathing and self-calming exercises like yoga
- Some women also find a measure of relief in eating estrogenic foods, including soy products such as soy nuts, edamame and tofu, as well as yams, flaxseeds and other plants that contain phytoestrogens. Estrogenic foods contain compounds like soy isoflavones. Daidzein, a soy isoflavone, is changed by gut bacteria into S-equol, a compound that is structurally similar to estrogen and mimics some of its actions in the body, helping to reduce hot flash symptoms.
Will Being Super Healthy Help Delay Menopause
Although maintaining good overall health is important for a variety of reasons, it wont necessarily translate to later menopause, says Streicher. I have women who tell me, I have a healthy diet, Im thin, I work out all the time, and I look young. Im sure Im not going to go through menopause early, and when I do, I wont have hot flashes and other symptoms. I wish I could say that was true, but its not, she says.
Body weight might matter, though. We do know that the extremes of weight, in someone who is very obese or someone with very low body weight, may impact the onset of menopause, but for the majority of women in the middle it doesnt seem to have a big impact, says Streicher.
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What Other Factors Influence When Perimenopause Starts Or When A Woman Reaches Menopause
New research published online on April 12 in Menopause, the journal of NAMS, looked at the various factors that may affect the age when natural menopause occurs.
They found that there are factors that do seem predictive of when a woman will approach menopause, such as higher estradiol and follicle-stimulating hormone levels, which weve known for a while,” says Streicher. Irregular menstrual bleeding and hot flashes were also indicators of earlier menopause, she adds.
One new finding uncovered in the research was around alcohol consumption. The authors observed that participants tended to increase their alcohol consumption when approaching menopause, making it a potential clue that the change was coming.
That makes sense, says Streicher. This can be a time of added stress for women, and we know that any stressful situation can cause someone to drink more, she says.
Although this study didnt find a strong association with smoking, other research has indicated that smoking is related to early onset of menopause, says Streicher.
Vaginal Lubricants For Menopause Symptoms
In women for whom oral or vaginal estrogens are deemed inappropriate, such as breast cancer survivors, or women who do not wish to take oral or vaginal estrogen, there are varieties of over-the-counter vaginal lubricants. However, they are probably not as effective in relieving vaginal symptoms as replacing the estrogen deficiency with oral or local estrogen.
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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
Can Menopause Be Treated
Menopause is a natural process that your body goes through. In some cases, you may not need any treatment for menopause. When treatment for menopause is discussed, its about treating the symptoms of menopause that disrupt your life. There are many different types of treatments for the symptoms of menopause. The main types of treatment for menopause are:
It is important to talk to your healthcare provider while you are going through menopause to craft a treatment plan that works for you. Every person is different and has unique needs.
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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:
When Do Menopause Symptoms Start
Most women go through menopause in their late 40s or early 50s, this process is called perimenopause, which typically begins 2 -10 years before menopause. During perimenopause, symptoms start to occur, their severity and frequency is different in each woman. However, approximately 25% of women won’t experience any symptoms in the time leading up to menopause. Keep reading to find out more about when menopause symptoms start and how to deal with them.
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What Are The Stages Of Menopause
Perimenopause. The menopause begins with a stretch of about three to five years when your fertility hormones are slowly declining. It usually happens in your late 40s, but can happen before or after. During the perimenopause, you may experience some of the classic symptoms of menopause starting, such as:
- Hot flushes
- Irritability, anxiety, and depression
- Vaginal dryness and sometimes discomfort during sex
Every woman is unique. While some women will experience all of the symptoms, others wont experience any at all. Thats totally normal. But be aware that even though menopause is starting, it may still be possible to get pregnant at this stage.
Menopause. Technically, it is defined as the moment when youve gone 12 months without having a period. When does menopause start? Most women will go through the second stage of menopause at around the age of 51 ish. Again, it depends.
Postmenopause. The third stage of menopause starts after a year since your last period. This is when all those symptoms might start to subside.
But your body still has a few things to throw at you at this stage and you may experience menopause symptoms like hot flushes, vaginal dryness, and interrupted sleep for up to a year before things become steady again.