What You Should Know About Menopause
Menopause is a naturally occurring phase in each woman’s life that is heralded by the cessation of menses. Menopause is the term used to describe the point in your life when you cease to have periods and can no longer become pregnant. Along with that freedom is a myriad of symptoms that can be confusing.
Your gynecologist can help you manage those symptoms.
The average woman begins to transition to menopause around the age of 51, but each woman is different. You may begin the menopausal transition at 40, while others may not have symptoms until their late 50s. Often called “the change of life,” it’s a completely normal and natural progression due aging.
Menopause doesn’t take place instantaneously. It’s a transition period that takes place over months or years. The menopausal process is different for each woman and not everyone has the same symptoms or experiences it in the same way.
What Causes Menopause?
At some point in your life, your body will automatically begin to produce less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. During this time, your monthly periods may become irregular, stop for several months, and then begin again. During this time it’s still possible to become pregnant.
Eventually, they’ll stop completely.
Signs & Symptoms
Lower hormone levels affect your body in multiple ways. A variety of symptoms are associated with perimenopause and menopause, but you may not experience them all or even a majority of them.
The symptoms you have will depend upon your own unique body chemistry and some may persist for months or even years after your last period.
You may experience physical, mental and emotional symptoms.
The physical symptoms of perimenopause can include:
- Irregular periods – that may be lighter or heavier, appear with greater or lesser frequency, and be of shorter or longer duration
- Hot flashes – a sensation of heat over the entire or just the upper body; red blotching of the arms, back and chest; heavy sweating and cold shivering after the flash has passed; and flushing of the face and neck
- Trouble sleeping through the night
- Night sweats while you sleep
- Uncomfortable sex due to vaginal tissue that becomes drier and thinner
- Infections of the urinary tract or vagina
- Urinary incontinence
- Some women experience weight gain and loss of muscle mass
The change in hormone levels can also induce mental and emotional reactions:
- Mood swings not associated with depression
- Crying more easily
- Feeling more comfortable with your own sexuality
- Feeling less or more interested in sex
Other changes can take place during this time that may be hormone related or simply be signs of aging. They include forgetfulness, difficulty focusing on tasks, or a feeling of “mind fog,” along with stiffness and achiness.
If you are in good health and your symptoms are mild and tolerable, you may not require any type of treatment. And if you are lucky, your symptoms will eventually dissipate on their own after a period of time.
Menopause is normally a gradual process. Most women suffer mild symptoms before it gets worse or intolerable. This is why it is important to make your gynecologist aware of any changes you might be going through at your next visit, if you are over 40.
Treatment For Menopause
Dr. Cook offers hormone testing to evaluate if you are a candidate for bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). BHRT is one of the most effective therapies to manage menopausal symptoms today. For details visit Dr. Cook’s hormone replacement therapy page.
For vaginal issues associated with menopause (or even childbirth), such as urinary incontinence or vaginal dryness and laxity, you can have absolute confidence Dr. Cook can help with ThermiVA®. ThermiVA® is the latest non-invasive radio-frequency treatment especially created for the vaginal anatomy.
Reasons To See Your Gynecologist
Play it safe. You should immediately contact your gynecologist if you are over 40 and you are having menopausal symptoms, or if you haven’t had a period in over a year and suddenly start spotting. Don’t assume you are going through menopause if you miss a period or two. You may be pregnant or have a health problem.
Also bare in mind that the change in hormones that occurs during menopause can result in some health related concerns that include bone loss, that leads to osteoporosis if left untreated. Menopause also increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, making it essential to monitor cholesterol levels.
Menopause is a natural part of life, arriving with the potential for a variety of symptoms that can be annoying, but typically manageable. If the symptoms are causing serious disruption in your lifestyle, Dr. Cook has multiple therapies and methods that can provide relief.
An experienced gynecologist like Dr. Cook, is an essential resource for information and treatment options. She can provide essential guidance on diet, exercise to maintain muscle mass, and avoiding weight gain.
Dr. Cook will also help keep you healthy and mitigate the potential for serious health issues, allowing you to enjoy the post-menopausal stage of your life.
For same day appointments please call us at (770) 431-2322. We make every effort to respond to your request right away during regular business hours.