What is Menopause?
Menopause is defined as the permanent ceasing of menstruation. It is a milestone in every woman’s life and is a normal part of the aging process. Menopause is usually medically diagnosed retroactively, signified by going 12 months without a menstrual cycle.
This process usually begins around the ages of 45 -50 years of age, designating the end of a woman’s fertility and reproductive years.
Menopause is caused by a depletion of ovarian follicles and is accompanied by a variety of common symptoms due to the natural decline in reproductive hormones (such as estrogen). Some common symptoms include:
- Night sweats
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal Dryness
- Painful intercourse
- Urinary incontinence
- Sleep Disturbances
- Mood disorders, including mood swings, anxiety and depression
All of these symptoms can be managed through consultation with a Women’s Health provider. Each symptom has its own therapy options, medications and at-home remedies. In any case, and for all patients, we always recommend maintaining a healthy lifestyle within this age group.
A nutritious diet and healthy sleep schedule, coupled with vitamin supplementation, exercise and the elimination of drugs and alcohol can encourage a smooth transition and minimize your risk of potential medical issues that can arise for many at this time, such as: osteoporosis, bone fractures, and cardiovascular disease1.
Perimenopause is the condition that many women experience prior to menopause. Perimenopause lasts until the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs, which thus marks menopause. It usually starts in a woman’s 40’s but can occur earlier. During this time, women can experience menopause symptoms as their hormonal levels are fluctuating and estrogen levels drop.
Common Gynecologic Conditions
Aside from perimenopause and menopause, and their accompanied symptoms, there are many other common gynecologic conditions and topics we see and like to discuss with patients in this age group.
- Birth Control – during the perimenopause or “menopause transition” birth control options should continue to be discussed and evaluated with your gynecologist or midwife. Until you have been diagnosed with menopause after 12 months without menstruation, you can still get pregnant during this time.
- STI’s – Sexually Transmitted Infections and diseases can become prevalent in older women who are sexually active. Practicing safe sex with contraceptives is important, even after your reproductive years have concluded.
- Pelvic Floor Prolapse – As you age, and especially if you have had children, the muscles and tissues in your pelvis become weak and loose.
In addition, it is very important to continue with your annual visits, including breast examinations and PAP exams (every 3 years). Unfortunately, after childbirth phase and throughout adulthood, women tend to forego these appointments. Women will self-diagnosis, self-treat, and badly manage their health conditions or, worse yet, conditions will go unseen and progress to be damaging or fatal.
As women age, their risks for certain conditions increase, so we strongly encourage you to continue to come in for these important health screenings, notably:
If you or a loved one might be experiencing these symptoms, we encourage you to call us. Together, we can discuss your symptoms and, through a medical exam and medical history assessment, diagnose your condition and put you on a workable path to resolve or manage it.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact our Women’s Health Department
Monday – Friday: 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Choosing a Provider Who is Right for You
We encourage you to explore your options when choosing a women’s health provider. This is an intimate journey and it’s important for you to seek out the OBGYN or midwife who can provide you with health care services that feel right for you.
Finding a provider who is supportive, and one with whom you can talk with honestly and openly, is one of the most important things you can do for your health. For the different ages and stages of your life - puberty to post-menopause, we will be there to help you maintain health and prevent illness.