Menopause is not an illness or disease; it is a normal phase of development that all women go through when their fertility and menstruation begin to decrease. But even though it is not an illness, it is advised that you seek treatment for your symptoms if they become severe or start in impact your daily life. Menopause can cause sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression and any one of these symptoms can have negative long term impacts. Unfortunately there are the still irritating but less treatable problems such as hot flashes and mood swings. If you are having trouble coping with menopause, especially in the case of anxiety or depression, please visit your doctor.
In the United States the average onset of menopause is between 45- 55. In other countries it may occur earlier. For women undergoing natural menopause, menopause is defined in medical terms as the day after your last period is over. After one year of no periods, you are considered infertile and don’t have to worry about getting pregnant anymore. There are a lot of unknowns in menopause. Currently it’s unknown why some women get more severe symptoms than others and there are some racial differences with some races having fewer and less severe symptoms. Not so surprising is the fact that smokers typically will enter menopause a much earlier than non-smokers. One fact that is surprising is both fraternal and identical twins go into menopause much earlier than most women. About 5% of twins go into menopause before 40 years old.
Prior to menopause occurring there is a transitional phase that is called perimenopause. Again, severity of symptoms and the age at which it will begin varies. In most cases, perimenopause begins in the mid to late 40’s. Perimenopause symptoms are the same as the symptoms experienced during menopause. Basically perimenopause is simply the very start of the menopausal phase.
Some of the more common menopause and perimenopause symptoms are:
Irregular bleeding and periods
Pain during intercourse
Loss of sex drive
Inability to get restful sleep
Irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations
Loss of skin elasticity
It’s unfortunate that not of lot of information is available about reliable treatment options for women in menopause. Until recently Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) was the standard treatment for menopause, but all this changed several years ago when studies showed that HRT caused an increase in certain types of cancers. Because of this information, women began going off of hormone therapy in droves.
As of now, there is no really effective 100% safe treatment. If you do seem to be having trouble coping with anxiety and depression, your doctor can advise you on medication to help with these symptoms. Not all women get menopausal symptoms and with any luck you will fall into this fortunate category. If not, the best you can hope to do is control the symptoms as you go through menopause.
Menopause is a time in a woman’s life when she stops having monthly periods, her ovaries have stopped releasing eggs that can be fertilized by sperm, so pregnancy isn’t possible, and the ovaries have also stopped producing the hormones, estrogen and progesterone. So this can cause a lot of different symptoms and side affects. Basically, if you notice that your bleeding patterns have changed, you’re bleeding more or less than usual, your periods are shorter or longer than usual, you’re having night sweats, difficulty sleeping, depression – there’s a host of different symptoms associated with menopause – if you’ve noticed these differences, and you’re between the ages of 45 and 55, they could very well be associated with menopause. The average age is about 51. So if you went to the doctor with concerns, and you’re in this age range, they would probably assume that you’re going through menopause. But if you’re younger than that, they might want to do further testing to decide if other medical conditions might be causing the symptoms you’ve been having.
If you have concerns about menopause, I recommend talking with your doctor. And based on their knowledge of your circumstances and ability to ask you more specific questions, they’ll be able to give you the best advice. Good luck with everything, and if you have any other questions for me in the future, feel free to ask them on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/IntermountainMoms, and recommend us to your friends and family too.
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