Ah, the menopause journey. This trip has no clear starting or ending point, and you are sure to encounter odd diversions along the way. Needless to say, any woman could use turn-by-turn directions.
FIRST POINT: PERIMENOPAUSE
Perimenopause – have you heard of this term before? This is the phase wherein your body will start providing some helpful physical clues that the menopause process is starting. Note that it can still be years before your last menstrual period.
The common signs of perimenopause include the following:
These changes are caused by a decrease in estrogen levels.
There is still a slight chance of getting pregnant in perimenopause. So, if you do not want to go down that road, birth control is highly recommended until at least a year after your last period. For more information on contraceptives, consult your doctor immediately.
DETOUR: Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI)
In some cases, menopause comes earlier than usual. This is caused by a condition called Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI). With POI, younger women (under the age of 40) have occasional or no periods and elevated FSH levels. Some women with POI may have common menopause-related symptoms while others may not.
POI also means lower estrogen levels. This can cause negative effects on your bone density and sometimes, even brain and sexual function. If you are experiencing these things, make sure to consult your doctor, too.
DESTINATION: NATURAL MENOPAUSE
Finally, you have reached your destination! Natural menopause – the spontaneous, permanent ending of menstruation that is not because of any medical treatment. Menopause is a natural and normal event. When the final menstrual period is confirmed and a woman has not had her period for 12 consecutive months, then this is menopause.
Women in North America, according to a study, will likely experience natural menopause between the ages 40 and 58, averaging around the age of 51. In some cases, however, women can reach this phase in their 30s and others, in their 60s. Women typically reach menopause around the same age as their mothers and sisters.
Smokers may get there about two years earlier than those who don’t smoke. Race, age at first period, fertility medications, or birth control pills do not seem to be determining factors.
FINAL STOP: POST-MENOPAUSE
The final stop is post-menopause. This phase starts after menopause. Due to the continued decrease in a woman’s estrogen levels during this phase, some symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness may linger.
ENJOY THE RIDE!
Each woman will experience menopause differently. There may be signs and symptoms as well as starts and stops along the way, but the most important thing is to enjoy the ride! Remember, this is a normal, natural event. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
For vaginal problems, let Dr. Fay Weisberg help you relieve them. Setup an appointment with her today!