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Menopause

Menopause

WomanCare Clinic

Meriter WomanCare Clinic
20 S. Park Street, Suite 450
Madison, WI 53715
Telephone: (608) 417-5433 or 1-888-409-3852

UW Health - OB/GYN
20 S. Park Street, Suite 307
Madison, WI 53715
Telephone: (608) 287-2830

Definition

   
Natural menopause is when a woman doesn’t have a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months, and surgical menopause is when both of the ovaries are surgically removed.

Symptoms

  • Irregular or no menstrual periods
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Osteoporosis
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Palpitations (awareness of a fast or irregular heartbeat)
  • Dry skin 
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Have a hard time getting sexually aroused/less desire for sex
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Tearfullness and irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Memory issues
  • Lack of concentration

Hormonal changes can cause physical and psychological symptoms before and during menopause. You may experience symptoms of psychological or emotional stress when you experience dramatic life changes in addition to body changes associated with menopause. Some of these dramatic life changes can include aging parents, loss of parents, adjustment to children growing up and leaving home, becoming a grandparent and retirement or career changes. Symptoms may occur for a few weeks, a few months, several years, or not at all. The symptoms may come and go, or they may occur regularly.

What is Menopause?

          
All women experience menopause, but each in a unique way. Most women go through menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. In the United States the average age for menstrual periods to stop is 51. However, the timing varies among women. When a woman has not had a period for 1 year, she is menopausal. Pregnancy is still possible until menopause is fully reached, even if a few months have passed without having a period.


Menopause is when a woman’s body makes almost no estrogen and progesterone hormones. Estrogen and progesterone are the female hormones produced by the ovaries that prepare the uterus for possible pregnancy. The ovaries will no longer release eggs, so a woman can’t get pregnant.


Perimenopause is the transition phase leading up to menopause. Perimenopausal changes are brought on by changing levels of ovarian hormones. It can last 6 years or more and ends 1 year after the final menstrual period.


Changes in hormone levels can affect ovulation and change bleeding patterns as a woman nears menopause. The reduced amount of hormones causes menstrual periods to become irregular. Blood flow may get heavier or lighter. Women may even begin to skip periods. Eventually the periods will stop completely.


Some health problems, such as osteoporosis (a thinning and weakening of bones) and coronary artery disease are associated with low estrogen. Bone loss starts around age 35 and heart disease is very common in women over 55. Estrogen therapy or hormone therapy may be recommended to replace some of the hormone that the body is no longer producing, and to relieve some of the menopause symptoms.

 

Estrogen may be taken in many different forms, such as:

  • Tablets to be swallowed
  • Patches or lotion to be put on the skin
  • Injections
  • A vaginal ring
  • A cream to be put into the vagina

Treatment of menopause symptoms should start with:

  • Regular exercise
  • A healthy, calcium-rich diet
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Sleeping in a cool room
  • Using lubricants for intercourse
  • If you smoke, quit

Menopause presents an ideal time to evaluate personal health and improve health practices. A healthy lifestyle can contribute significantly to improved well-being, not only around menopause but throughout life.