Do you want to know all about menopause? Here are some of the (FAQs) frequently asked questions about the transition.
What is Menopause?
Menopause is not a disease – it’s a normal, natural event—defined as the final menstrual period and usually confirmed when a woman has missed her periods for 12 consecutive months (in the absence of other obvious causes). Menopause is associated with reduced functioning of the ovaries, resulting in lower levels of estrogen and other hormones. It marks the permanent end of fertility. Menopause occurs, on average, at age 51. It occurs most often between ages 45 and 55.
What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause refers to the years preceding menopause when there is a gradual transition between a woman’s reproductive years and menopause. During these years a woman’s estrogen levels are fluctuatign wildly and a she can expereince the same symptoms as menopause. Perimenopause normally occurs between the ages of 45 and 49.
What is postmenopause?
Postmenopause refers to all the years of a woman’s life beyond menopause. This can often be over a third of a woman’s lifetime. The symptoms of menopause gradually decline and disappear during these years. However, the decline in estrogen levels make postmenopausal women vulnerable to a range of major health conditions such as osteoperosis, heart disease and cancer.
What is premature menopause?
Menopause, whether natural or artificial, is called premature when it happens at age 40 or younger. Premature menopause that is not artificial can be genetic, metabolic, autoimmune, or the result of other poorly understood conditions. Premature menopause should be evaluated thoroughly.
What is artificial menopause?
Artificial menopause refers to menstrual periods which stop after surgical removal of the ovaries, chemotherapy or radiation damage to the ovaries, or from the use of other medications to intentionally induce menopause as part of the treatment of certain diseases. Women who have artificial menopause experience the symptoms of menopause, but without the gradual onset of a natural menopause.
What changes will happen as I approach menopause?
Each woman’s menopause experience is different. Many women who go through natural menopause report no physical changes at all during the perimenopausal years except irregular menstrual periods that eventually stop when they reach menopause. Other women may experience a variety of symptoms ranging from hot flushes, and night sweats to anxiety, sleeplessness, fatigue and vaginal dryness. These symptoms tend to resolves themselves in the postmenopausal years.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
The symptoms of menopause are both physical and physchological. In total there are 34 recognised symptoms of menopause. Of course, it is highly unlikely a woman will experience all of these, and some may experience none of them other than the irregularity and cessation of periods. But it is helpful to know them in advance to help identify if you are in perimenopause.
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Irregular periods
- Loss of libido
- Vaginal dryness
- Hair loss or thinning
- Difficulty concentrating
- Disturbing memory lapses
- Weight gain
- Increase in allergies
- Changes in fingernails – weakening
- Changes in body odor
- Bouts of rapid heart beat
- Breast pain
- Joint pain
- Burning mouth syndrome
- Electric shock sensation
- Digestive problems
- Gum problems
- Increased tension in muscles
- Formication – itchy, crawly skin
- Paresthesia – numbness in hands and feet
- Osteoporosis – after several years
- Mood Swings
- Feelings of dread
What treatments are there for menopause?
Some women do not need treatment as they find that their menopausal symptoms are mild or go away by themselves. Others are bothered by both the severity and longevity of their menopause symptoms.
There are many ways to deal with them, including medications such as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), natural therapies and lifestyle changes.
You may find it difficult to decide about treatment options like HRT because of the possible side effects. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks and benefits so you can choose what’s best for you. No one treatment is right for all women.