Menopause is the stage in a woman’s life when her ovaries stop producing estrogen and she stops having her menstrual cycle. Menopause is something that all women have to go through. You might be anxious about it. You might be wondering what symptoms you’ll have, and how severe those symptoms will be. Menopause might seem scary, but the truth is that it’s quite manageable. Here are five things every women needs to know about menopause:
1. You Could Go Through It At 40 or 60
There is a lot of variation as to when women will go through menopause. The average age is 51, but it is common to go through menopause as early as age 40 or as late as age 58. Some women even go through menopause in their 30s, a condition called early menopause. Some women might go through menopause late, in their 60s.
2. You Will Probably Go Through Perimenopause Before Menopause
About 90 percent of women experience perimenopause before menopause. Perimenopause is when your period becomes irregular, but does not stop completely. This stage typically lasts about four years, but could last longer or shorter than that. A woman is not considered to be menopausal until she goes a full twelve months without getting a period.
3. You Might Have Hot Flashes, Night Sweats, and Various Other Symptoms
Because estrogen affects so many different things in your body, you will experience a wide variety of symptoms during menopause. The most commonly known symptoms are hot flashes and night sweats, which often appear in the first stages of menopause. But many women do not experience hot flashes and night sweats, or they do not experience them as much as other symptoms. Other menopause symptoms include forgetfulness, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, vagina dryness, weight gain, and changes in sex drive. Some women also experience heavy periods before their periods stop.
4. Symptoms Can Be Treated With Hormone Therapy
If your menopausal symptoms become unmanageable, you can ask your gynecologist about hormone replacement therapy. Hormone replacement therapy is a treatment for menopause symptoms which involves taking supplemental estrogen. This hormone treatment should reduce or eliminate the symptoms of menopause. There is also strong evidence to suggest that hormone replacement therapy can protect against osteoporosis. The theory is that decreased estrogen levels leave a woman’s bones weak, and hormone therapy can fix the problem.
5. Not Everyone Is A Candidate For Hormone Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy is not for everyone. Particularly, if you have any history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, blood clots, or stroke, hormone therapy is not a good choice for you. Studies have shown hormone replacement therapy can increase a woman’s risk of blood clots, stroke, heart disease, and certain cancers.
If you have no history of these diseases. and you have moderate to severe menopausal symptoms, hormone replacement therapy may be a good choice for you. Hormone replacement therapy is also good for women who have gone through menopause early (before age 40), because early menopause can increase a woman’s risk of osteoporosis. Finally, if your doctor concludes that you have already lost bone mass from osteoporosis, and other treatments have not worked for you, hormone replacement therapy might be a good option.
Menopause can be overwhelming at first, but all women get through it. It helps to have as much knowledge as possible about what you are experiencing, so you don’t panic about routine symptoms. Talk with your gynecologist about menopause and how to get through it. Your doctor will help you come up with a plan that’s right for you.