Menopause: 5 Things to Expect
By Indrani Reddy, MD, FACOG, Denton County LIVING WELL Magazine
Are you anticipating the start of menopause soon? While many women feel some apprehension about how it might affect them, most can expect menopause to begin anytime between 45-65 years of age. Menopause is characterized by the ceasing of menstruation. This occurs when a woman’s ovaries stop producing eggs and the production of estrogen and progesterone decrease.
With a little education, preparation and support, menopause doesn’t have to be something women dread. Here are some pointers about what you can expect and some solutions to ease this transition.
- You are in menopause once you have missed your period for 12 consecutive months. Of course, if you miss a period, it is wise to rule out pregnancy first. However, menopause just doesn’t happen overnight. Your period will become increasingly irregular for some time. This transition is referred to as “perimenopause” and can last up to six years before you enter menopause.
- Uncomfortable symptoms are normal. Yes, it’s true. Hot flashes, night sweats, increased pulse, and insomnia are common issues as menopause starts. The good news is that these vary with every woman and the symptoms will go away with time. Small diet changes (e.g., less caffeine) and simple solutions such as wearing lighter weight clothing, staying hydrated and practicing relaxation techniques can help.
- You can maintain a normal sex life. Some women worry about the potential sexual issues related to menopause. Vaginal dryness and a decreased sex drive are common; however, by continuing to engage in sexual activity and communication with your partner, these unwanted symptoms may diminish.
- Hormone replacement therapy does not cure menopause. Just because you’ve hit menopause does not mean that it is time to start hormone replacement therapy. In fact, these medications can be dangerous to your health while potentially increasing the time you spend in menopause. Instead, try natural solutions, such as engaging in regular physical activity and eating a healthy, well-balance diet. If you have questions about how hormone treatments can affect your health, be sure to talk to your physician.
- You should turn to your support network during menopause. Some symptoms of menopause can include depression, anxiety, headaches, and forgetfulness. Many women feel overwhelmed and frustrated during this time. Talk to other women in your life who have gone through menopause. Share your feelings with you partner, so they understand what you are experiencing. You do not have to go through menopause alone.
For more information about the services available at Denton Regional Medical Center, visit our website at dentonregional.com. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a physician, please call our referral hotline at 1-855-477-DRMC.