As a woman, you go through several stages of life marked by significant hormonal changes. One of these stages that can be particularly uncomfortable is known as menopause. This process is completely natural but the impact it has on your daily life can be significant. Take consolation in the fact that there are ways to help manage your menopause to make the transition smoother and more tolerable. Our physicians in both Rock Hill and Fort Mill, SC can help. Learn more about our approach and contact us to schedule an appointment.
When Does Menopause Begin?
Menopause marks a time that menstruation stops due to a natural decline in reproductive hormones. This means you no longer experience a monthly period and you can no longer become pregnant. Menopause is not an abrupt ending but instead a gradual phasing out and it is separated into three separate phases:
- Perimenopause – When periods become irregular.
- Menopause – When 12 months have elapsed since having a period.
- Postmenopause – The years following menopause.
Most women begin going through menopause between the ages of 45 and 55; however, it can commence in women who are younger or older. Approximately 1 out of 100 women will experience menopause before the age of 40.
In the years leading up to menopause, your estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate, bouncing up and down. You may begin to experience the symptoms of menopause several years before you experience your last period and the symptoms may continue for years after. Every woman experience menopause a little differently, so what is normal for you may not be normal for another person. The symptoms of menopause are both physical and emotional and can range from mild to severe. They include:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Irregular periods
- Trouble sleeping
- Decreased energy
- Slower metabolism
- Weight gain
- Thinning hair
- Mood swings
Usually you do not need any tests to diagnose menopause, but if you have an IUD or are using other hormonal birth control, these may be necessary because you are probably not experiencing your period. Other symptoms of menopause will not be masked due to the presence of an IUD. There is a blood test that can check the levels of follicle- stimulating hormone and estrogen so menopause can be accurately diagnosed.
Managing Menopause Symptoms
There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to care when it comes to menopause. Fortunately, menopause symptoms can be managed, and you can get your life back on track. Be vocal at your appointments regarding what you are experiencing and how your symptoms are manifesting. This way we can develop an appropriate plan for treatment that may include:
- Hormone therapy
- Vaginal estrogen
- Low-dose antidepressants
- Medications for hot flash relief
- Medications for osteoporosis
Schedule Your Appointment
We encourage women of all ages to stay proactive about their gynecologic health. As you commence the journey through menopause, rest assured that you will receive compassionate support and medical guidance from our health care providers. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.