Aging is a natural part of life, but with growing older comes changes to your body. While some of these changes can be positive and fulfilling, other changes can be frustrating to deal with, such as with the signs and symptoms of menopause. Here’s the rundown on menopause from our Miami OB/GYN, Dr. Susan Fox.
What is Menopause?
When it comes to menopause, the meaning is in the name: The moment when your menstrual cycles hit pause. Once you’ve gone 12 months without a menstrual period, you will officially have hit menopause. As you may already know, menopause is a natural biological process that happens in a woman’s life.
However, the physical symptoms that develop right before, during, and after menopause are different for every woman. You may experience more severe hot flashes, disrupted sleep, lower energy, and more while your friend may only experience effects on their emotional health. There are many effective menopause treatments available, from lifestyle adjustments to hormone therapy.
Signs & Symptoms
Every woman’s menopause experience is unique, so your symptoms could be more or less severe depending on the duration of your menopause. When menopause occurs suddenly or over a shorter period of time, symptoms are usually more severe.
You may also expect more bothersome symptoms if you’ve had cancer or a hysterectomy as these conditions affect the health of your ovaries. In addition, certain lifestyle choices, like smoking, tend to increase the severity and duration of symptoms. Perimenopause, the few years right before you reach menopause, commonly shows early signs such as:
- Less frequent menstruation/irregular periods
- Heavier or lighter periods than you normally experience
- Vasomotor symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, and flushing
Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause, with a whopping 75% of women who experience them. Once you reach menopause, you might experience these signs and symptoms:
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Sleep problems
- Mood changes
- Weight gain and slowed metabolism
- Thinning hair
- Dry skin
- Loss of breast fullness
On top of that, many women experience complications due to the bodily changes of menopause. Common complications include:
- Vulvovaginal atrophy
- Dyspareunia, or painful intercourse
- Slower metabolic function
- Osteoporosis, or weaker bones with reduced mass and strength
- Mood or sudden emotional changes
- Periodontal disease
- Urinary incontinence
- Heart or blood vessel disease
When Does Menopause Start?
You’ll likely experience natural menopause between ages 40 and 58, averaging around age 51. However, you may even reach menopause in your 30s or in your 60s, although this is more rare. Typically, women reach menopause around the same age as their mothers and sisters do.
If you experience perimenopause, it will likely occur some point after your mid-40s and then you’ll reach menopause in your early 50s. But your body may skip perimenopause entirely.
How Long Does Menopause Last?
So around what age can women expect it to be over? For a small number of women, perimenopause symptoms can last for up to a decade before they actually reach menopause. About 1 in 10 women experience menopausal symptoms for 12 years following their last period.
Ultimately, your genetics and your ovary health will determine your symptoms and how long they last, but most women start having symptoms about four years before their last period and continue experiencing them until about four years after.
Menopause Treatment | Women’s Care in Florida
As your body produces less reproductive hormones during menopause, you will begin to experience symptoms. For women with severe menopause symptoms, our Miami OB/GYN, Dr. Susan Fox, offers hormone replacement therapy to relieve them. Hormone therapy may be an effective treatment in women under the age of 60, or within 10 years of menopause onset.
This therapy works by using medication to replace the estrogen that your body is no longer producing. This medication can come in the form of pills, creams, skin patches, and more. Our physicians will prescribe you a dosage based on the severity of your symptoms, age, and other factors.
If you want to learn more about our hormone therapy menopause treatment and which option is best for you, one of our physicians will be more than happy to sit down with you to discuss your options. We want to make sure that every patient feels cared for and comfortable in our office, so give us a call today!