Known as The Change of Life, the average age at which menopause occurs is 51 – although it can actually happen from any time from the 30’s to the mid-50’s or later based on a number of lifestyle and health factors such as smoking and weight. This stage of life signals the end of a woman’s ability to have children although many healthcare providers actually use the term to refer to the period of time when a woman’s hormone levels start to change. Menopause is said to be complete when menstrual periods have ceased for one continuous year.
At Christiana Care, we know this time of life can bring up a number of questions and concerns. We are here to help you with the utmost understanding and care to make sure you have all the facts and care, whenever you need it.Explore Useful Links
What causes Menopause?
Menopause can also happen for reasons other than natural reasons. These include:
Premature menopause – Premature menopause may happen when there is ovarian failure before the age of 40. It may be associated with smoking, radiation exposure, chemotherapeutic drugs, or surgery that impairs the ovarian blood supply. Premature ovarian failure is also called primary ovarian insufficiency.
Surgical menopause – Surgical menopause may follow the removal of one or both ovaries, or radiation of the pelvis, including the ovaries, in premenopausal women. This results in an abrupt menopause. These women often have more severe menopausal symptoms than if they were to have menopause naturally.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
These are the most common symptoms of menopause. However, each woman may experience symptoms differently. Some have few and less severe symptoms, while others have more frequent and stressful ones.
Hot flashes – The most common symptom, these are brief periodic increases in body temperature. For 80% of women, hot flashes occur for 2 years or less, but some may experience them for more than 2 years. A hot flash may cause an increase in a woman’s heart rate. This causes sudden perspiration as the body tries to reduce its temperature and may also be accompanied by heart palpitations and dizziness. Hot flashes that happen at night are called night sweats.
Vaginal atrophy – Vaginal atrophy is the drying and thinning of the tissues of the vagina and urethra. This can lead to pain during sex, as well as vaginitis, cystitis, and urinary tract infections.
Relaxation of the pelvic muscles – Which can lead to urinary incontinence and also increase the risk of the uterus, bladder, urethra, or rectum protruding into the vagina.
Cardiac effects – Intermittent dizziness, an abnormal sensation, such as numbness, prickling, tingling, and/or heightened sensitivity, cardiac palpitations, and fast heart rhythm may occur as symptoms of menopause.
Hair growth – Changing hormones can cause some women to have an increase in facial hair or a thinning of the hair on the scalp.
Mental health – Several studies have indicated that menopausal women suffer no more anxiety, depression, anger, nervousness, or feelings of stress than women of the same age who are still menstruating. Psychological and emotional symptoms may be related to other factors.
Loss of sex drive – Due to hormonal changes in the body.
Treatment for Menopause
We offer several therapies that help to manage menopause and make the transition to the next stage of life as easy as possible. The decision to start using these treatments should be made only after you and your healthcare provider discuss the risks and benefits.
Hormone therapy (HT)
Hormone therapy (HT) involves the taking a combination of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone during perimenopause and menopause. HT is most commonly prescribed in pill form. However, estrogen can also be given by using skin patches and vaginal creams.
Estrogen therapy (ET)
Estrogen therapy (ET) involves taking estrogen alone, which is no longer being made by the body. ET is often prescribed for women who have had a hysterectomy. Estrogen is prescribed as pills, skin patches, and vaginal creams.
This type of treatment often involves the use of other types of medicines to relieve some of the symptoms associated with menopause.
Estrogen alternatives are the so-called “synthetic estrogens,” like ospemifene, improve symptoms of vaginal atrophy without affecting endometrial cancer risk.
Homeopathy and herbal treatments, often called bioidentical hormones, may offer some relief from some symptoms of menopause. However, there are concerns about potency, safety, purity, and effectiveness.