Am I In Menopause?
A woman is considered to be in menopause after 12 consecutive months without a menstrual cycle. Perimenopause refers to the time period during which a woman's body makes its natural transition toward menopause, and can begin anywhere from a few months to several years before menopause.
The most common early sign is a change in the monthly cycle, such as skipped or irregular periods. Women may also notice a change in flow during their menstrual cycle – lighter and/or heavier. The age range is anywhere between 45 to 55 years, with most women reaching menopause around the age of 52.
While some women experience very few physical symptoms during this stage of their lives, others experience symptoms such as severe hot flashes, mood changes, night sweats, weight gain or difficulty sleeping, that begin interfering with their quality of life. Fortunately, there are several lifestyle modifications, such as avoiding spicy foods, wearing wicking material while sleeping and exercising regularly. If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, medical treatment, such as hormone replacement therapy, can help alleviate these symptoms throughout perimenopause and menopause.
Women should talk to their provider about appropriate lifestyle changes and medical treatments, such as hormonal therapy or OTC options.
When most of what we hear about menopause is negative, it can be hard to enter into this stage of life with a positive frame of mind. Women should try to focus on the positive aspects of menopause, such as no longer having to worry about a monthly period, and remember that menopause is a natural phase of life. If you experience abnormal bleeding, dizziness, discomfort with intercourse or excessive weight gain after menopause it’s important to follow up with your doctor.
Changes in the skeletal and cardiovascular systems during menopause can put you at risk for other conditions, and you should schedule regular check-ups with your doctor to stay informed. Cone Health has an exceptional network of OB/GYN specialists and other related women’s health experts dedicated to helping women maintain their quality of life throughout menopause.
About the Author
Anika Cherry, MD specializes in Obstetrics/Gynecology at Encompass Women's Care, a Cone Health Medical Group practice.