is the time in your life when you naturally stop having menstrual periods.
Menopause happens when the ovaries
stop making estrogen.
Estrogen is a hormone
that helps control the menstrual
cycle. Menopause marks the end of the reproductive years. The average
age that women go through menopause is 51 years.
The years leading up to menopause are called perimenopause. Beginning in
your 30s and 40s, the amount of estrogen produced by the ovaries begins to
fluctuate. A common sign of perimenopause is a change in your menstrual cycle.
Cycles may become longer than usual for you or become shorter. You may begin to
skip periods. The amount of flow may become lighter or heavier. Although
changes in menstrual bleeding are normal during perimenopause, you still should
report them to your health care provider. Abnormal bleeding may be a sign of a
menstrual cycle changes, what other signs and symptoms can occur during
Some women do not have any symptoms of
perimenopause or have only a few mild symptoms. Others have many symptoms that
can be severe. Common signs and symptoms include the following:
flashes—A hot flash is a sudden feeling of heat that rushes to the upper
body and face. A hot flash may last from a few seconds to several minutes
or longer. Some women have hot flashes a few times a month. Others have
them several times a day. Hot flashes that happen at night (night sweats)
may wake you up and cause you to feel tired and sluggish during the day.
problems—You may have insomnia (trouble falling asleep), or you may wake
up long before your usual time. Night sweats may disrupt your sleep.
and urinary tract changes—As estrogen levels decrease, the lining of the
thinner, dryer, and less elastic. Vaginal dryness may cause pain during
sex. Vaginal infections also may occur more often. The
can become dry,
inflamed, or irritated. This can cause more frequent urination and
increase the risk of urinary tract infections.
What types of
bone changes can occur after menopause?
A small amount of bone loss after age 35 years
is normal for both men and women. But during the first 4–8 years after
menopause, women lose bone more rapidly. This rapid loss occurs because of the
decreased levels of estrogen. If too much bone is lost, it can increase the
risk of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis increases the risk of bone fracture. The bones of the hip, wrist,
and spine are affected most often.
health risks increase during perimenopause and menopause?
The estrogen produced by women’s ovaries before
menopause protects against heart attacks and stroke. When less estrogen is made
after menopause, women lose much of this protection. Midlife also is the time
when risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol levels, high
blood pressure, and being physically inactive, are more common. All of these
combined factors increase the risk of heart attack and stroke in menopausal
What is hormone
therapy can help relieve the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.
Hormone therapy means taking estrogen and, if you have never had a hysterectomy and still have a
uterus, a hormone
Estrogen plus progestin sometimes is called “combined hormone therapy” or
simply “hormone therapy.” Taking progestin helps reduce the risk of cancer of
the uterus that occurs when estrogen is used alone. If you do not have a
uterus, estrogen is given without progestin. Estrogen-only therapy sometimes is
called “estrogen therapy.”
How is hormone
Estrogen can be given in several forms. Systemic
forms include pills, skin patches, and gels and sprays that are applied to the
skin. If progestin is prescribed, it can be given separately or combined with
estrogen in the same pill or in a patch. With systemic therapy, estrogen is
released into the bloodstream and travels to the organs and tissues where it is
needed. Women who only have vaginal dryness may be prescribed “local” estrogen
therapy in the form of a vaginal ring, tablet, or cream. These forms release
small doses of estrogen into the vaginal tissue.
What are the
benefits of hormone therapy?
Systemic estrogen therapy (with or without
progestin) has been shown to be the best treatment for the relief of hot
flashes and night sweats. Both systemic and local types of estrogen therapy
relieve vaginal dryness. Systemic estrogen protects against the bone loss that
occurs early in menopause and helps prevent hip and spine fractures. Combined
estrogen and progestin therapy may reduce the risk of colon cancer.
What are the
risks of hormone therapy?
Hormone therapy may increase the risk of certain
types of cancer and other conditions:
therapy causes the lining of the uterus to grow and can increase the risk
of uterine cancer.
hormone therapy is associated with a small increased risk of heart attack.
This risk may be related to age, existing medical conditions, and when a
woman starts taking hormone therapy.
hormone therapy and estrogen-only therapy are associated with a small
increased risk of stroke and
deep vein thrombosis
. Forms of
therapy not taken by mouth (patches, sprays, rings, and others) may have
less risk of causing deep vein thrombosis than those taken by mouth.
hormone therapy is associated with a small increased risk of breast
is a small increased risk of gallbladder disease associated with estrogen
therapy with or without progestin. The risk is greatest with oral forms of
medications help with menopause symptoms?
An antidepressant is available for the treatment of hot flashes.
Gabapentin, an antiseizure medication, and clonidine, a blood pressure
medication, are prescription drugs that can be prescribed to reduce hot flashes
and ease sleep problems associated with menopause. Selective estrogen receptor
modulators are drugs that act on tissues that respond to estrogen. Two drugs
containing selective estrogen receptor modulators are available for the relief
of hot flashes and pain during intercourse caused by vaginal dryness.
Can plant and
herbal supplements help with menopause symptoms?
Plants and herbs that have been used for relief
of menopause symptoms include soy, black cohosh, and Chinese herbal remedies.
Only a few of these substances have been studied for safety and effectiveness.
Also, the way that these products are made is not regulated. There is no
guarantee that the product contains safe ingredients or effective doses of the
substance. If you do take one of these products, be sure to let your health
care provider know.
hormones help with menopause symptoms?
Bioidentical hormones come from plant sources.
They include commercially available products and compounded preparations.
Compounded bioidentical hormones are made by a compounding pharmacist from a
health care provider’s prescription. Compounded drugs are not regulated by the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They have the same risks as hormone
therapies approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but they also may
have additional risks because of the way they are made. There is no scientific
evidence that compounded hormones are safer or more effective than standard
moisturizers and lubricants help with menopause symptoms?
These over-the-counter products can be used to
help with vaginal dryness and painful sexual intercourse that may occur during
menopause. They do not contain hormones, so they do not have an effect on the
vagina’s thickness or elasticity. Vaginal moisturizers replace moisture and
restore the natural acidity of the vagina and can be used every 2–3 days as
needed. Lubricants can be used each time you have sexual intercourse.
What can I do to
stay healthy after menopause?
A healthy lifestyle can help you make the best
of the years after menopause. The following are some ways to stay healthy
a balanced diet will help you stay healthy before, during, and after
menopause. Be sure to include enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet to
help maintain strong bones.
exercise slows down bone loss and improves your overall health.
Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, can help keep bones strong.
Strength training strengthens your muscles and bones by resisting against
weight, such as your own body, an exercise band, or handheld weights.
Balance training, such as yoga and tai chi, may help you avoid falls,
which could lead to broken bones.
health care—Visit your health care provider once a year to have regular
exams and tests. Dental checkups and eye exams are important, too. Routine
health care visits, even if you are not sick, can help detect problems