What is Menopause?
Menopause is defined as one full year without a menstrual period. While the average age of menopause is 51-52 in the United States, it can range from 40-58 years old. Menopause is a natural process that was previously called ‘change of life’. Women commonly struggle during the years prior to menopause, called perimenopause. This can last up to 4-5 years prior to a final period and can be marked by irregular periods, heavy menstrual bleeding, substantial growth of uterine fibroids, and many of the symptoms that are commonly associated with menopause.
Why is Menopause Important?
Menopause is usually caused by a decrease in estrogen in the female body after the traditional childbearing years have passed. This decrease in estrogen production can have profound effects on the body’s functions and health, meaning it’s important to take certain steps for your health and emotional wellbeing. While most women have minimal symptoms, some women may find the changes difficult and sometimes distressing. Physical symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, emotional lability, sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness, and lower energy can make this transition difficult.
How Can My Gynecologist Help?
Most women will not need treatment for menopause symptoms, but some may need help with this transition. Therapies that have been proven effective include use of low dose anti-depressants (SSRI/SNRIs) and hormonal therapies. Choosing a therapy requires an assessment of family and personal history by your gynecologist so they can recommend the right options for you and finding relief. Your gynecologist can also make sure you’re taking the right steps for long-term health after menopause begins.
Schedule an Appointment
For more information about menopause we encourage our patients to visit: http://www.menopause.org/for-women
Menopause doesn’t need to be something you undergo on your own. We can discuss your options for reducing symptoms and remaining healthy throughout this stage of life during a consultation with our team of expert gynecologists. To schedule an appointment, contact our New York City office by calling or filling out our online form.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How long is menopause?
A small percentage of women have a very brief transition to menopause (days to weeks), and another small percentage have a very long transition (5-6 years); most will have several months of a change in the menstrual pattern and symptoms (vaginal dryness, hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings).
What are the first signs of menopause?
There is a tremendous variation in the way women transition through menopause; a very small percentage have a relatively abrupt cessation of menses at 52 or 53 and have no other symptoms at all; another very small percentage begin in their 40s to have a change in their menstrual frequency (cycles less often more common than cycles more often), hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings and insomnia. The majority of others will have something in between; there is a slender correlation with the age at which the patient’s mother or older sisters started menopause, and no connection at all with when the menses began.
What happens during menopause?
Menopause happens once a woman has gone 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period and marks the end of the reproductive years. This is due to changing levels of progesterone and estrogen, and many women experience symptoms such as vaginal dryness and hot flashes.