Menopause is a natural stage in a woman’s life during which your body produces less estrogen and progesterone, you stop ovulating, and, eventually, menstruation stops completely. Menopause usually occurs in women between the ages of 45 and 55. Perimenopause is the term used to describe the transition years and is sometimes used interchangeably with menopause.

Although it is normal stage that all women go through, menopause can be associated with discomforts and concerns about cardiovascular disease, bone loss, and other disorders.

It is important during these years to have regular pelvic exams, pap smears, breast exams, and mammograms. If a problem is detected early, it is much easier to treat. Any vaginal bleeding that occurs during the menopause years should be reported immediately to your doctor.

Your doctor will likely also recommend you get regular bone density tests.

Symptoms

Because your body is producing fewer hormones, you may experience some symptoms as your body adjusts to these new hormone levels. Symptoms are most severe for one to two years after your last period and may last up to five years.

Symptoms include:

  • Hot flashes and sweating
  • Cessation of menstrual flow or irregular menstrual flow
  • Heart racing
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased libido
  • Headaches
  • Skin flushing
  • Vagina dryness
  • Mood swings

Treatment

Hormone therapy treatment may be helpful to some women who have severe symptoms. However, studies have shown that hormone therapy places a woman at greater risk for developing breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes and blood clots. Speak to your doctor to find out if hormone therapy is right for you.

Other treatments include medications to help with mood swings and hot flashes, as well as making lifestyle changes to improve your symptoms.

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