Menopause is when a woman's menstrual cycle stops as part of the natural aging process. This happens because as a woman ages, the ovaries stop producing estrogen. Estrogen is a type of hormone (a natural chemical in the body that helps it work).
Once menopause happens, it marks the end of the reproductive years. On average, women go through menopause around age 51.
Perimenopause are the years leading up to menopause. In your 30s and 40s, the amount of estrogen produced by your ovaries begins to change. This is perfectly normal.
It's always a good idea to let your doctor know about any changes so that they are aware of any abnormal bleeding.
Perimenopause may lead to other symptoms, including:
- Hot flashes
- Sleep problems
- Skipped periods
- Longer or shorter cycles
- Heavier or lighter flow than usual
- Vaginal and urinary tract changes
In the first four to eight years after menopause, women lose bone calcium more rapidly. This happens because of lower estrogen levels.
If too much calcium is lost, it can raise your chances of osteoporosis and lead to bone breaks. Bones typically affected include the hip, wrist and spine. It may be a good idea to talk with your doctor about taking calcium supplements.OR
Estrogen helps to protect you against heart attacks and strokes. When your body makes less estrogen, you lose that protection.
Aging also raises your chances for getting heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure while decreasing your rate of physical activity. This raises the chances of having heart attacks and strokes for menopausal women.OR
There are a variety of treatments to consider if you are struggling with symptoms of menopause.
- Hormone therapy
- Gabapentin and clonidine
- Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERM)
If you still have a uterus (womb), taking estrogen and progestin can lower your chances for uterine cancer. Hormone therapy can also help with any symptoms you may be having.
A hysterectomy is a surgery to remove the uterus. If you had a hysterectomy, you can take estrogen alone. It comes in many forms such as pills, skin patches and gels. Like any therapy, there are risks.
Talk to your doctor to find out what's right for you.OR
Antidepressants can help with hot flashes.OR
Your doctor can prescribe gabapentin and clonidine to reduce hot flashes and ease sleeping problems.OR
SERMs are medications that can help with hot flashes and pain during sex caused by vaginal dryness.OR
The chances of having health problems increase as you age. Staying healthy after menopause isn't different from living a healthy lifestyle at other stages of life.
Eating healthy, exercising and visiting your doctor regularly can help you to stay healthy.OR