Menopause is the permanent cessation of menstruation. It can occur as early as age 40 or as late as the early 60s. It usually spans 1 to 2 years. Menopause is only one event in the "climacteric". This is a biological change in all body tissue and body systems that occurs in both sexes between the mid-40s and mid-60s. Menopause occurring before age 40 is termed premature. Menopause does not occur suddenly. Perimenopause usually begins a few years before the last menstrual cycle.
FREQUENT SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Some women may go through menopause without having symptoms. In most women, both physical and emotional symptoms usually occur.
Irregular menstrual periods.
Hot flashes or flushes and night sweats. These are sensations of heat spreading from the waist or chest toward the neck, face, and upper arms. The medical term is vasomotor symptoms.
Rapid or irregular heartbeat.
Vaginal itching, burning, or pain with intercourse.
Bloating in the upper abdomen.
Irritable bladder (urge to urinate).
Mood changes, including tension and anxiety.
Changes in sex drive.
Depression, feeling sad or down, and fatigue.
A normal decline in ovary function. This results in decreased levels of the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone.
Surgical removal of both ovaries.
Medical treatment of endometriosis or cancer.
RISK INCREASES WITH
Menopause is a natural part of the aging process for women. Smoking and hysterectomy are risks for premature menopause.
No preventive measures needed.
Menopause is a normal process, not an illness. Most women adapt without major problems or concerns.
Reduced skin elasticity and vaginal moisture.
Higher risk of hardening of the arteries, heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis after menopause.
Changes in feelings of self-worth.
DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT
Your health care provider can determine if it is menopause by your age and symptoms. It is often diagnosed in females after 1 year of no menstrual periods.
No specific treatment is usually needed.
Counseling may be helpful if emotional changes interfere with personal relationships or work.
Continue to use birth-control measures until 12 months after your last menstrual period.
Reduce stress in your life as much as possible. Acupuncture, meditation, and relaxation techniques are all helpful ways to reduce any stress of menopause.
Women who smoke start menopause about two years earlier than nonsmokers do. If you smoke, talk to your health care provider about programs to help you quit.
Estrogen therapy (ET) alone or in combination with progestogen (EPT) are options for treating hot flashes. Hormone therapy has benefits as well as risks. The decision is made by a woman and her health care provider.
Antidepressants may be prescribed for hot flashes.
Herbal (or those termed natural remedies) help some women. Discuss these with your health care provider.
Drugs to prevent and/or treat loss of bone density may be prescribed.
Take calcium supplements and vitamin D if needed.
For vaginal dryness, use moisturizers and non-estrogen lubricants, such as K-Y Jelly or Replens.
No limits. Exercise helps your well-being. Weight-bearing activities (such as walking) help bone strength.
Eat a well-balanced diet.
NOTIFY OUR OFFICE IF
You or a family member has symptoms of menopause.
Bleeding occurs 6 months or more after last period.