Menopause is that the time that marks the top of your menstrual cycles. It's diagnosed after you've gone 12 months without a menstrual period. Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s, but the typical age is 51 within the us .
Menopause is a natural biological process. But the physical symptoms, like hot flashes, and emotional symptoms of menopause may disrupt your sleep, lower your energy or affect emotional health. There are many effective treatments available, from lifestyle adjustments to hormone therapy.
In the months or years leading up to menopause (perimenopause), you would possibly experience these signs and symptoms:
Ø Irregular periods
Ø Vaginal dryness
Ø Hot flashes
Ø Night sweats
Ø Sleep problems
Ø Mood changes
Ø Weight gain and slowed metabolism
Ø Thinning hair and dry skin
Ø Loss of breast fullness
Symptoms, including changes in menstruation, are different for each woman. Most likely, you'll experience some irregularity in your periods before they end.
Skipping periods during perimenopause is common and expected. Often, menstrual periods will skip a month and return, or skip several months then start monthly cycles again for a couple of months. Periods also tend to happen on shorter cycles, so they are closer together. Despite irregular periods, pregnancy is possible. If you've skipped a period but aren't sure you've started the menopausal transition, consider a pregnancy test.
When to see a doctor
Keep up with regular visits with your doctor for preventive health care and any medical concerns. Continue getting these appointments during and after menopause.
Preventive health care as you age may include recommended health screening tests, such as colonoscopy, mammography and triglyceride screening. Your doctor might recommend other tests and exams, too, including thyroid testing if suggested by your history, and breast and pelvic exams.
Menopause can result from:
Natural decline of reproductive hormones - As you approach your late 30s, your ovaries start making less estrogen and progesterone — the hormones that regulate menstruation — and your fertility declines. In your 40s, your menstrual periods may become longer or shorter, heavier or lighter, and more or less frequent, until eventually — on the average , by age 51 — your ovaries stop producing eggs, and you've got no more periods.
Hysterectomy - A hysterectomy that removes your uterus but not your ovaries usually doesn't cause immediate menopause. Although you not have periods, your ovaries still release eggs and produce estrogen and progesterone. But surgery that removes both your uterus and your ovaries (total hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy) does cause immediate menopause. Your periods stop immediately, and you're likely to possess hot flashes and other menopausal signs and symptoms, which may be severe, as these hormonal changes occur abruptly instead of over several years.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy - These cancer therapies can induce menopause, causing symptoms like hot flashes during or shortly after the course of treatment. The halt to menstruation (and fertility) isn't always permanent following chemotherapy, so contraception measures should be desired.
Primary ovarian insufficiency - About 1 percent of girls experience menopause before age 40 (premature menopause). Menopause may result from primary ovarian insufficiency — when your ovaries fail to supply normal levels of reproductive hormones — stemming from genetic factors or autoimmune disorder . But often no cause can be found. For these women, hormone therapy is usually recommended a minimum of until the natural age of menopause so as to guard the brain, heart and bones.
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