Menopause can feel confusing and maybe even scary, but it’s a normal part of the aging process for women. Understanding the diagnosis of menopause, what is happening with your hormones, symptoms and treatment options can make this transition much easier.
Menopause marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles. A woman has officially entered menopause when she has gone twelve months without a period. This generally occurs when a person is between the ages of forty-five and fifty, but it can also occur outside of that time period. According to preventative and anti-aging doctor Dominique Fradin-Read, women first enter perimenopause, usually marked by irregular periods, spotting and mood swings. During this time, hormones are changing, increasing estrogen and decreasing progesterone. Towards the end of perimenopause, the production of estrogen stops completely.
Changes in hormones can cause many different symptoms, and the symptoms can be different for each person experiencing menopause. Common symptoms include hot flashes, mood swings, fatigue and insomnia. Weight gain is another common symptom due to increased stress and changes in metabolism. Many women also experience changes in their hair and skin. People may develop acne and experience hair loss during these hormonal transitions.
Complications during menopause can include an increased risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. Some women may experience vaginal dryness and pain during sexual intercourse that can generally be treated with lubricant use.
Dr. Dominique Fradin-Read says that supplements and hormone therapy can be used to treat symptoms of menopause. She recommends speaking with a health care professional before introducing new supplements. Supplements can help balance hormones and reduce symptoms. Other supplements can target the neurotransmitters in the brain that are linked to mood-related symptoms of menopause.
A doctor can prescribe hormones to minimize symptoms after testing hormone levels. Different patients require different hormones and dosages. Hormones can be taken through the skin via patches, creams or gels, or they can be taken in oral form. Hormone levels can continue to change and fluctuate throughout perimenopause and menopause, so a physician may need to adjust prescriptions over time.
Menopause is a natural part of aging in which a woman stops menstruating. As hormones change, women can experience symptoms including hot flashes, fatigue and mood swings. More serious complications include an increased risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. Symptoms can be treated with supplements or hormone therapy. Patients should always consult a physician before beginning any new treatments.