Menopause Q & A
What is Menopause?
Menopause is a natural transition that occurs when your fertility ends.
Before menopause, your body produces hormones that cause your ovaries to release mature eggs. These hormones also thicken the lining of your uterus to support a pregnancy. If pregnancy doesn’t occur, your body sheds the lining during your period. Menopause occurs when the body stops producing hormones in the proper amounts to stimulate ovulation and the menstrual cycle.
What is Perimenopause?
Before you officially reach menopause, you’ll go through perimenopause for months or years. During this time, you may experience a variety of symptoms, including:
- Mood changes
- Hot flashes
- Irregular periods
- Vaginal dryness
- Weight gain
- Loss of fullness in your breasts
- Thinning hair
- Dry skin
- Sleep disturbances
Menopause officially occurs when you haven’t had a period for 12 months.
What is Premature Menopause?
In the United States, the average age of menopause is 51, though some women may reach menopause earlier or later. If you reach menopause before the age of 40, it’s considered premature menopause. Premature menopause may occur on its own, or it may be the result of certain medical procedures.
Premature menopause raises your risk of some complications, such as osteoporosis. If you think you may be reaching menopause too soon, it’s best to make an appointment.
What Treatments are Available?
Whether you’re in the middle of perimenopause or you’ve already reached menopause, you may be experiencing uncomfortable symptoms. Treatments available for these symptoms include:
- Systemic hormone replacement therapy: This helps alleviate many of the symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and mood swings. However, it also comes with side effects and a higher risk of some complications, including cancer.
- Vaginal estrogen: This can improve vaginal dryness, but it won’t help with systemic menopause symptoms. However, vaginal estrogen is less likely to cause side effects than systemic hormone replacement therapy.
Some women in perimenopause or menopause may also benefit from medication for depression or medication to prevent osteoporosis. The doctors at OB/GYN Specialists of South Miami explain all treatment options in detail to help you make the right choice for your needs.