How do I know if I’m in menopause?
You are in menopause when you haven’t had your period for one year straight. You might become irregular in the months or years leading up to complete menopause. The average age of menopause in the United States is 51, but it can happen anytime in your 40s or 50s.
How long does menopause last?
In the months, or possibly years, leading up to menopause — known as perimenopause — you may experience symptoms that are uncomfortable or confusing. These include:
- Changes in the flow and duration of your periods
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Difficulty with sleep
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood changes
- Focus challenges
- Loss of hair on your head
- Growth of facial hair
Can symptoms of menopause be managed?
Yes! Menopause is completely natural and you can stay vital and healthy during perimenopause and after, especially when under the care of compassionate providers. When you suspect you’ve entered perimenopause — such as when you start to have periods just once every couple of months — make an appointment and your doctor will monitor your process and ease your symptoms.
I’m younger than 40, but my periods have stopped. What should I do?
Consult with your doctor. You can rule out pregnancy or another condition that’s causing you to lose your period. In about one percent of women, menopause prior to age 40 may result due to primary ovarian insufficiency. You may need hormone therapy if this is the case. Hysterectomy and some radiation or chemical cancer treatments can also prompt early menopause.
What complications can occur with menopause?
Menopause is a completely natural stage in a woman’s life, but it’s not without risk. Your chances of developing heart disease, osteoporosis, and urinary incontinence increases. You may also see a rapid change in your body shape and be more susceptible to weight gain. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any change or loss in your sexual desire or function.
Will I need special tests?
Typically, no tests are necessary to determine if you’ve achieved menopause. However, if you’ve got unexplained weight gain and extreme fatigue, the doctors may want to test your thyroid function with blood work. You may also get your FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and estrogen levels tested to determine if hormone therapy will best support your health.