What is Menopause?
Menopause is a natural, gradual transition time in a woman’s life when the hormone levels of estrogen and progesterone begin to drop. Women transition out of the reproductive years and the monthly cycle starts to become irregular and eventually stops. Although most women typically enter menopause in their late 40s, the average age of menopause is about 51. Menopause can be confirmed when a woman has not had a period for a year, however signs and symptoms of menopause can begin years before the last period. Fluctuating hormone levels are usually the cause of symptoms that women experience during perimenopause (before menopause). The severity of menopause symptoms can vary between women.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF MENOPAUSE
- Changes in menstrual cycle: For many women, the first sign of perimenopause is a change in the length of menstrual cycles. Periods can be shorter or longer and they can also be heavier or very light.
- Hot flashes and night sweats: During perimenopause, women may begin to notice hot flashes. Most women will experience hot flashes during menopause as the hormone levels fluctuate. Hot flashes can be triggered by tight clothing, stress, consuming alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods.
- Changes in sleep patterns: Insomnia is often a common symptom of menopause. The core body temperature needs to drop at night in order to sleep, and hot flashes and night sweats suddenly raise the temperature in the middle of the night, causing sleep disturbances and restlessness.
- Changes in mood and memory: Mood swings, similar to PMS symptoms, often occur during menopause. The declining hormone levels can leave women feeling sad, depressed, irritable, anxious and short tempered. Mood disorders may be helped by eating healthy, exercising and getting adequate rest.
- Vaginal dryness: As estrogen declines, the lining of the vagina becomes thinner and drier. This can cause pain during intercourse. Be sure to consult your doctor at Women’s Health of Central Virginia to help you manage menopausal symptoms.
It is not medically necessary to treat the symptoms of perimenopause unless they are bothering you. Women’s Health of Central Virginia in Lynchburg, VA offers simple, natural lifestyle changes that may help reduce and alleviate some symptoms. There are other measures that we can offer to help with menopause management such as low dose hormone therapy. If menopause is disrupting your life, please don’t hesitate to call Women’s Health of Central Virginia at (434) 239-7890.
Am I In Perimenopause?
The changes in hormones during perimenopause and menopause affect women differently. A physical exam as well as a discussion of your symptoms and medical history are valuable clues that you are entering perimenopause. After menopause, the risk of certain diseases such as heart disease, osteoporosis and cancer can increase. During this transition phase, it is important to keep your annual physical exams so you can discuss any changing symptoms with your doctor.