Menopause Overview

The Facts Concerning Perimenopause

Menopause is a normal part of life for women, and indicates that her fertile years are over.  Some women will experience a lot of symptoms while other experience very few.

Perimenopause

The pre-menopausal stage is called perimenopause. It usually starts when a woman is in her forties, but can begin in her thirties.  A woman is in the perimenopausal stage until her ovaries stop producing eggs, at which point she is considered menopausal. In the one or two years leading up to menopause the drop in estrogen accelerates. This can cause the onset of early menopausal symptoms. Typically, the average perimenopausal stage lasts about four years. Some women only experience this stage for a few months. Perimenopause ends when a woman has had a full calendar year without having her period.  Some of the features associated with perimenopause include hot flashes, worsening of premenstrual symptoms, fatigue, mood swings, difficulty sleeping and vaginal dryness.

Pregnancy

Even though the fertility hormones levels are dropping it is still possible to become pregnant during the perimenopausal phase. If you do not wish to become pregnant at this time, then it will be necessary to continue with your birth control method of choice.

Treatments

There are a variety of treatment options available to reduce the intrusiveness of perimenopausal symptoms. Some women find relief in using low dose birth control pills, otherwise known as hormone replacement therapy. Getting exercise on a regular basis is important, decreasing the alcohol consumption and finding a healthy weight are all factors that can help you control the symptoms. It is always wise to ask your doctor about what treatment options are right for you.

Premature Early Menopause

In the U.S. the average age a woman will experience menopause is 51. There are however a variety of reasons why she may experience menopause sooner. Some people have a genetic history of early menopause, others have autoimmune problems, and still others need surgery to remove the uterus due to medical complications at an early age. In addition the usual hot flashes, fatigue and other features of menopause, those experiencing premature early menopause may face emotional hardships. As menopause indicates the onset of infertility, those individuals still interested in reproducing will find it increasingly difficult.

How is Premature Menopause Diagnosed?

To diagnose premature menopause, your doctor will perform a physical examination. Blood tests will be taken so that other conditions such as thyroid disease and pregnancy can be ruled out.  One blood test will check the levels of a hormone that stimulate ovaries. A low level will be one indication of the onset of menopause. Women who have had premature menopause are denied the benefits of their own protective estrogen for a longer period of time and are at greater risk of health problems. Premature menopause is irreversible.

Final Thoughts

Menopause is a fact of life for women. It is a point of transition. Whether it occurs at the average age of 51, or earlier due to health problems, genetics, or autoimmune issues, the symptoms can be problematic.  The solution is to become informed regarding your concerns, and talk to an expert in this field, your family doctor.