You can find loads of information about menopause, but because we understand that you are a busy woman, we figured you’d appreciate a bite-sized portion of the basics about the subject.
Menopause is defined as the final menstrual period. This is confirmed after 12 consecutive months of missing periods. Menopause causes lower levels of estrogen, as well as other hormones, but it is a normal part of life that all women will experience. Menopause often happens in women between the ages of 40 – 58.
Before you reach this stage, you will first experience some physical changes before the final menstrual period. This transition period is called perimenopause and it could last between four to eight years. The changes often begin with a variation in the length of time between every period and end a year after the last menstrual period.
There is also induced menopause. This means a woman’s menstrual periods end because of medical intervention. This usually occurs when a surgery is done to remove both ovaries or when a woman receives cancer treatments like chemotherapy or pelvic radiation.
Natural menopause can be influenced by factors like genetics as well as smoking. Studies show that smokers often reach menopause two years earlier than normal.
Body Changes During Menopause
Every woman’s experience of menopause is different from the others’. Some report that there were no physical changes during perimenopausal stage apart from irregular menstrual periods that completely stopped once menopause was reached. There are women who experience hot flashes and night sweats, drying and thinning of vaginal tissues, painful sex, and more.
Let us talk more about these changes.
Hot flashes are considered the most common discomfort that is associated with menopause. A woman having hot flashes experiences sudden waves of heat that is accompanied by reddening of the skin, sweating, and rapid heartbeat. A hot flash episode often lasts between one to five minutes and is usually followed by a chill.
Night sweats are hot flash episodes that happen at night and interfere with sleep. Treatments for both hot flashes and night sweats include changes in one’s lifestyle, hormone therapy, non-prescription remedies, and non-hormonal prescription drugs.
Vaginal atrophy or the thinning and drying of vaginal tissues in many women is caused by the drop in estrogen levels. One of its effects is the feeling of tightness, pain, burning sensation, or soreness during sex. Many women find comfort when they use over-the-counter vaginal lubricants or moisturizers. But for those who are suffering from severe vaginal atrophy, you may need estrogen products.
To know more about the perimenopausal stage and what you can do to help with the discomfort it causes, you can set up an appointment with Dr. Fay Weisberg of FemRenew.