WHAT IS MENOPAUSE?
Menopause is a normal change in a woman's life when her period stops. It is often called the "change of life." During menopause, a woman's body slowly makes less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. This often happens between the ages of 45 and 55 years old. A woman has reached menopause when she has not had a period for 12 months in a row, and there are no other causes for this change. As you near menopause, you may have symptoms from the changes your body is making. Many women wonder if these changes are normal, and many are confused about how to treat their symptoms. You can feel better by learning all you can about menopause, and talking with your doctor about your health and your symptoms. If you want to treat your symptoms, your doctor can tell you more about your options and help you make the best treatment choices.
Symptoms of Menopause
Every woman's period will stop at menopause. Some women may not have any other symptoms. But as you near menopause, you may have these symptoms:
*Changes in your period. The time between periods and the flow from month to month may be different.
*Abnormal bleeding or "spotting." This is common as you near menopause. But if your periods have stopped for 12 months in a row, and you still have "spotting," you should talk to your doctor to rule out serious causes, like cancer.
*Hot flashes ("hot flushes"). You get warm in the face, neck and chest.
*Night sweats and sleeping problems. These may lead to feeling tired, stressed, or tense.
*Vaginal changes. The vagina may become dry and thin, and sex and vaginal exams may be painful. You also might get more vaginal infections.
*Thinning of your bones. This may lead to loss of height and bone breaks (osteoporosis).
*Mood changes. May include mood swings, depression, and irritability.
*Urinary problems. You may have leaking, burning or pain when urinating, or leaking when sneezing, coughing, or laughing.
*Lack of concentration. You may become forgetful.
*Sex drive decreases. You may have less interest in sex and changes in sexual response.