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A KEY TRANSITION IN A WOMAN’S LIFE – THE EXPERIENCE OF MENOPAUSE IS DIFFERENT FOR ALL
Menopause is the time in a woman’s life after she hasn’t had her period for 12 months. It is a normal part of aging; however, some women can go through menopause early as a result of surgery or chemotherapy. Women experience menopause differently, but some of the more common symptoms include hot flashes or vaginal changes.
WHAT IS MENOPAUSE?
Menopause occurs in women when the body slows its production of estrogen and progesterone. The time leading up to menopause, when symptoms start to occur, is called perimenopause. It’s during this time that women experience irregular periods and may have other symptoms, signaling the body’s changes. Women transition from perimenopause to menopause when their periods stop completely. Women reach menopause when they haven’t had a period, including episodes of spotting, for at least 12 months.
WHO GOES THROUGH MENOPAUSE?
Menopause is a normal part of aging, and every woman will go through it at some time. The average age of women who experience menopause in the United States is 51. Several health factors like genetics may impact the age in which someone experiences menopause. In addition, there are other reasons women may experience menopause, such as having their ovaries removed or undergoing chemotherapy.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH MENOPAUSE?
Menopause can be associated with a variety of symptoms. Some women experience no symptoms at all, and other may experience one or more. Below are some (but not all) of the symptoms that may be a part of the menopause transition or may happen after menopause:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Pain or discomfort during sexual activity
- Trouble sleeping
- Mood changes
It is important to recognize that the hormonal changes associated with menopause may increase the risk of certain chronic conditions, such as heart disease or osteoporosis.
HOW IS MENOPAUSE IDENTIFIED?
Even though menopause is usually a normal part of aging, women should consider discussing with their health care providers when they suspect they’re going through associated changes. A healthcare provider may diagnose menopause based on a woman’s history or clinical exam or decide to do additional diagnostic hormonal tests. They may even ask a woman to answer a survey or questionnaire about the symptoms she may be experiencing.
HOW IS MENOPAUSE MANAGED?
Every woman experiences the menopause journey differently. A patient should be able to discuss menopause with her doctor and learn about potential recommendations that may be appropriate for her individual care. A woman can speak about menopause with her primary care provider or their gynecologist. There are even designated menopause practitioners that a woman can visit if she needs more information.