Troy & Rochester Hills Women's Center For Menopause
Very few women look forward to the onset of menopause, but it is simply just another stage of life. Though the hormonal changes that often accompany this time can be uncomfortable, knowing what to expect can help you know when to reach out to your gynecologist for assistance.
Most women associate menopause with something that happens to women later in life, but time can sneak up on you. Though menopause itself is characterized by the natural end of a woman’s menstrual cycles, the process happens in what has been recognized as three separate stages. Women generally begin experiencing the first stage, perimenopause, in their 40s, long before most feel that they are anywhere near “mature” or “older adult” status. This stage can last for several years before a woman is officially considered to be in menopause, usually in their early 50s. A year after the final menstrual cycle, postmenopause begins. The actual starting and ending ages and duration of each stage differs from woman to woman, and some illnesses or medical treatments such as hysterectomy, oophorectomy, and ovarian dysfunction can cause menopause to begin prematurely.
No matter how old a woman is when she enters menopause, the symptoms tend to follow a similar pattern. The severity can vary wildly and there is no universally accepted medical explanation as to what causes the differences. From the onset of perimenopause straight through to the post-menopausal stage, hormones are fluctuating, often resulting in the following bodily changes:
Menopause is a natural part of aging for women and therefore cannot be prevented, but that does not mean that women must accept and live with the symptoms of menopause. Because menopause is brought on by hormonal changes, most medical menopause treatment options involve hormone therapy. Estrogen can reduce the instances and severity of hot flashes, insomnia, and vaginal dryness. The options can be administered in many ways including through pills, gels, transdermal patches, or in ring form. Low-dose estrogen and progestin similar to levels found in birth control pills can be used to treat and manage more severe menopause symptoms. The method and dose will depend on a number of factors including current symptoms and medical history.
What to Expect
There is no way to accurately predict when a particular woman will begin menopause or which, if any, symptoms, she will experience. Though genetics can play a role in the process, life experiences, health history, and other factors also contribute to the end result, making it impossible to know for a fact what will happen. Finding a gynecologist that you trust and respect is the best way to prepare for menopause and its effects. Let your doctor know as soon as you begin experiencing the symptoms described above so you can plan the best course of treatment together.
If you have a concern, you’re experiencing any of the conditions listed above or another one or it’s time for your annual screening, contact Oakland Macomb Obstetrics & Gynecology, P.C. to make an appointment now.