Menopause is a normal stage in a woman’s life when her menstrual period stops. Natural menopause usually starts with a period of transition called perimenopause. Physical changes begin in perimenopause, which can last up to eight years. Some, but not all, women experience symptoms during this time.
Once a woman has been period-free for one year, she has gone through menopause and is considered postmenopausal. The average age for reaching postmenopause is 51. Women who smoke tend to reach menopause about two years earlier.
Dignity Health provides caring treatment for menopause symptoms in Arizona. We have three exceptional centers of care dedicated to the health services that a woman needs throughout her life:
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Symptoms of menopause can start in perimenopause and continue postmenopause. Estrogen and progesterone decline during menopause but are involved in many body processes, so the signs and symptoms of menopause vary widely. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Night sweats
- Sleep problems
- Decreased sexual desire or response
- Vaginal dryness and painful sex
- Osteoporosis (thinning bones)
Causes of Menopause
The two main female sex hormones are estrogen and progesterone. Levels of these hormones rise and fall each month, triggering ovulation and menstruation. As a woman ages, the monthly rise and fall becomes less regular and predictable. Eventually, hormone levels settle at low levels. At this point, ovulation and menstruation stop and menopause occurs.
Sometimes, a woman experiences menopause due to a medical treatment or surgery. Such “induced menopause” can be more intense, but it has many of the same symptoms and treatments as natural menopause.
Menopause Treatment Options at Dignity Health
There is no treatment for menopause. Instead, doctors focus on relieving symptoms if they become severe enough to affect your quality of life. Hormone replacement therapy is very effective at easing symptoms, but it isn’t right for every woman. Whether or not hormone replacement therapy may be appropriate for you depends upon your personal and family medical history.
Additional strategies for managing symptoms and staying healthy include:
- Using medications other than hormones, such as antidepressant medications, to help with mood swings
- Practicing relaxation techniques and stress management to combat anxiety
- Getting regular exercise, eating healthy, and maintaining a healthy weight
- Dressing in removable layers, using small fans, and sipping cold drinks during hot flashes
- Using a fan at night, keeping your room cool, and keeping an ice pack on hand for night sweats
- Establishing a nighttime routine and sleep schedule
- Getting regular sexual stimulation to help maintain vaginal health and blood flow
- Using vaginal lubricants and moisturizers to ease vaginal dryness
- Finding out your bone density status and working with your doctor to maintain bone health
Dignity Health provides dedicated women’s health services, including menopause treatment, in Arizona.