To some women, menopause can be a welcomed end to monthly hormone fluctuations and menstruation. Other women find menopause to be extremely emotional, since they may see it as an end of their child bearing years or that they are “aging” or “old”.
Though a natural phase of a women’s life, menopause can be a challenge to navigate. Perimenopause often begins in the mid-40s. This is a time when women can experience menstrual changes, causing cycles which are longer or shorter, and the flow to be heavier or lighter. This change in the menstrual cycle is due to irregularities in a women’s pattern of ovulation. As estrogen production continues to decrease, the menstrual cycle will eventually stop. This transition usually occurs by the mid-50s.The average age of menopause is 51.6 years. Women who have been without a period for 12 consecutive months are then considered post-menopausal.
** Women who are experiencing excessive menstruation (a flow lasting longer than 7 days or filling a pad every hour for 2 consecutive hours), blood clots, or vaginal bleeding that occurs separate from her “normal flow” can call in and discuss their symptoms further with the medical staff.
Hot flashes and/or night sweats can be another bothersome symptom caused by decreased or varying estrogen production. Some women experience these symptoms early in perimenopause, where other women hardly every experience them. Women can try light, “airy” clothing, ice packs, fans, and decreasing stress & caffeine.
**If the symptoms are bothersome, we recommend you schedule an appointment with your provider to discuss your particular case and options.
Another common symptom of menopause is vaginal dryness. This can be a challenging issue since it can affect both the menopausal women and her intimate partner. Women can try personal lubricants found in the feminine hygiene or family planning section of the drug store. Preferable options include water based lubricants (such as KY, Astroglide, Replens, or Luvena).
**If symptoms are unresolved by over the counter products or cause pain and/or bleeding, we do recommend an appointment.
We hope that this basic information about menopause can help to guide you and be a tool to use as you discuss any questions or concerns with you provider.