Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when she naturally stops having menstrual periods. Menopause marks the end of the reproductive years. The average age of menopause for women in the United States is 51, but every woman has her own biological clock.
Most women enter a transitional phase in the years leading up to menopause called perimenopause. Perimenopause is a time of gradual change in the levels of estrogen, a hormone that helps control the menstrual cycle. Changing estrogen levels can bring on symptoms such as hot flashes and sleep changes. What you are feeling is normal. During perimenopause you may experience a variety of changes due to hormonal shifts:
- Irregular menstrual cycles - shorter with heavier bleeding
- Breast changes - variations in tenderness or fullness
- Emotional fluctuation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Joint and muscle pain
- Frequent urination
- Vaginal dryness due to decreased estrogen
- Hot flashes and/or night sweats
- Decreasing fertility
Unfortunately, most women fear this life cycle. They anticipate their lives becoming an emotional roller coaster, affecting their relationships and testing their sanity. The word "hot flash" creates visions of embarrassing situations with profuse sweating, anxiety and helplessness. Some women feel they are losing control of their life. Menopause becomes a disease to be tolerated until it "passes."
It doesn't need to be this way. Trust us! Talk to your doctor. Discuss your symptoms and concerns. Together, you can determine which treatment options are best for you. Menopause is manageable... don't let any part of your life "pass" by!