This is first in a series of articles I will be writing looking at Menopause. While I am probably still a number of years from experiencing “the change” myself, I am hearing more and more of friends undergoing treatments related to Menopause and complications of Perimenopause, so perhaps I should be paying better attention.
The difference between Menopause and Perimenopause is:
• Menopause is the time where your periods cease for more than a year, occurring roughly around the age of 50 (but can occur as early as your 40s), and signals the end of childbearing ability.
• Perimenopause occurs as your body stops releasing eggs (ovulating) regularly, and is the time leading up to Menopause. In addition to irregular periods, other bothersome symptoms (typically related to menopause) could occur starting as early as your late-30s and can last 2 to 8 years, culminating in Menopause.
Menopause and the time leading up to it is a natural thing, and doesn’t need to be treated, except for working with your doctor or midwife to ensure your comfort from any symptoms that are particularly difficult to deal with. During this time, estrogen and progesterone levels eventually will drop causing your menstrual cycle to stop. It is also during this time that often women might begin to experience new problems such as endometriosis, heavy bleeding, precancerous cells or cancer, and uterine fibroids, in which case your doctor could suggest a hysterectomy.
I read that many insurance companies now are ordering a second evaluation to try and cut down on the amazingly 90% of hysterectomies which are done for what is considered elective reasons, rather than to cure life-threatening illness (PID, cancer, etc.). Some non-life threatening problems include uterine prolapse, endometriosis, and fibroids, etc.
Sadly, many doctors do not see value in the uterus past childbearing age, however studies have shown that serious side effects, such as depression, and acute headaches to name a few can occur following hysterectomy.