About Menopause

About Menopause

What is Menopause?

Menopause is sometimes called "the change of life” because it is the time in a woman's life when her period stops. It is a normal change in a woman's body. Menopause is reached when a woman has not had a period for 12 consecutive months (and there are no other causes, such as pregnancy or illness, for this change). Menopause often occurs when a woman is between the ages of 45 and 55.

What are the symptoms of Menopause?

Menopause affects every woman differently and for some, the only symptom may be that periods have stopped.  Common symptoms of menopause include a change in the pattern of periods, which can be shorter or longer, lighter and heavier, and/or more or less time between periods.  Some women also have hot flashes and night sweats,or trouble sleeping through the night.  Vaginal dryness, mood swings, trouble focusing, and hair loss or thinning may also occur.  

How can Menopause be managed?

Eating a healthy diet and exercising at menopause are important to feeling well. And most women do not need any special treatment for menopause. But some women may have menopause symptoms that need treatment. There is no one treatment that is appropriate for all women. Those with menopause symptoms should discuss the various treatments with a physician in order to choose the best option.  Sometimes, menopause symptoms go away over time without treatment, but there’s no way to know when this may occur.

If used properly, hormone therapy (HT)--once called hormone replacement therapy--is one way to deal with the more difficult symptoms of menopause. There are many kinds of hormone therapies and only a physician can suggest what is best for each individual woman. Like many treatment options, HT has benefits and possible risks. HT can help with menopause by reducing hot flashes, treating vaginal dryness, slowing bone loss and improving sleep.

Women who may be pregnant, have problems with vaginal bleeding and who have had a stroke or heart attack, blood clots, liver disease or heart disease should not use HT.
Some women decide to take herbal or other plant-based products to help relieve hot flashes. Some of the most common ones are soy and other sources of phytoestrogen such as black cohosh, wild yam and valerian root.  However, there is no proof that these herbs or pills containing these herbs can help. It is important that women discuss these options with their physician before trying them.

What else can be done to control Menopause symptoms?

Try to avoid any triggers that bring on hot flashes:  For example, some women report that eating or drinking hot or spicy foods, alcohol, or caffeine, feeling stressed, or being in a hot place can bring on hot flashes.  Dressing in layers, and keeping a fan in the home or workplace is recommended. Some other recommendations include vaginal lubricants for dryness, exercising (but not before bedtime) and avoiding alcohol or caffeine.  Sometimes, younger women may need a hysterectomy to treat health problems such as endometriosis or cancer. Because surgical menopause is instant menopause, it can cause more severe symptoms than natural menopause. A physician should be consulted to manage these symptoms.

What is premature menopause?

Menopause is called "premature" if it happens at or before the age of 40--whether it is natural or brought on by medical means. Some women have premature menopause because of family history, medical treatment (such as surgery to remove the ovaries) and cancer treatment.  Having premature menopause puts a woman at more risk for osteoporosis later in her life

What is Postmenopause?

Postmenopause is the term for all the years beyond menopause. It begins after you have not had a period for 12 consecutive months--whether your menopause was natural or medically induced.

For an assessment on your menopause symptoms, click here.