If you’re a smoker, please quit. This is one of the most positive steps you can take to improve your overall health. Women who smoke experience menopause two years earlier, on average, than those who do not smoke. Smoking can also exacerbate certain symptoms of menopause, including decreased libido, hot flashes, night sweats and incontinence.
Reduce stress through proven strategies like deep breathing, journaling, mindfulness, meditation, qi gong, tai chi and yoga. Many women in perimenopause find that reducing stress is at least as effective as medication in managing their menopause symptoms.
Whether your symptoms are mild or severe, you don’t have to suffer. Our midlife and menopause specialists will help you better understand what’s happening to your body. We can recommend proven treatments that specifically address your symptoms. Treatment may include changes to your diet, increased exercise and hormone replacement therapy.
Many women have found relief from menopause symptoms with acupuncture, massage and yoga.
Menopause is a normal and natural life event that all women experience if they live long enough. It is not an illness. Instead, it marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years, much as a woman’s first period marks the beginning.
As women age, their ovaries naturally stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which govern the monthly menstrual cycle. As estrogen gradually decreases, a woman’s periods become more irregular. Once estrogen drops below a certain level, ovulation ceases and periods stop altogether.
Most women experience natural menopause between ages 45 and 58, though about 5% of women undergo early menopause between the ages of 40 and 45. The average age of natural menopause for women in developed countries is about 51.
Occasionally, a woman may experience menopause earlier than age 40, often in response to a serious illness, surgery or medical treatment such as chemotherapy. When this occurs, for any reason, it is known as “premature menopause.”
The most telling symptom of menopause is irregular periods, though many women experience other symptoms first, such as hot flashes and night sweats—both of which are caused by hormonal fluctuations and decreasing estrogen. Other common symptoms of menopause include vaginal dryness, pain during sex, bladder control problems, weight gain, decreased libido and mood swings. About 40% of women have significant symptoms between the ages of 39 and 51.
The underlying cause of menopause symptoms is fluctuating hormone levels, especially estrogen but also progesterone and testosterone. During menopause, estrogen levels gradually decrease, but not in an orderly fashion. Levels may decrease and then spike—sometimes in response to external cues (diet, exercise, stress, etc.), other times for seemingly no reason at all. Sometimes during hormone spikes there can be MORE estrogen present than before perimenopause.
Not all women have secondary symptoms during menopause, and for those that do, the experience can vary greatly from woman to woman, and even from day to day. If your periods have become irregular and you are between the ages of 45 and 58, it’s likely you’ve entered perimenopause, but because many other factors can cause irregular periods, you should consult your health care provider for a discussion and evaluation.