Medically speaking, menopause is diagnosed when it’s been 12 months since your last menstrual cycle. However, most of us think of menopause as the time of transition between when your body is fertile with a regular menstrual cycle, and when you’re no longer producing eggs or having a period (perimenopause).
Dr. Joseph Roofeh and his staff in the Century City area of Los Angeles, California, can help you understand the symptoms of menopause. If necessary, we can provide treatment to relieve those symptoms. Menopause is a natural transition, but it’s not always a comfortable one!
Here are six signs you might be entering menopause.
Although menopause can happen to women in their 30s, the average age in the United States is 51 years old. You can begin experiencing symptoms as much as 10 years before reaching menopause, though, so your age isn’t always a reliable indication.
But, if you’re in your 40s and you’re having otherwise unexplained symptoms, your age may be a clue that you’re beginning menopause.
If you’ve always been as regular as a clock and suddenly you’re not, it could be a sign that your body is beginning to change. Irregular cycles or changes in the length of your periods could be due to changing levels of hormones.
You may go months without a period, then have one. Or, you may have shorter periods that occur closely together.
Hot flashes and night sweats are vasomotor symptoms that make menopause particularly difficult for many women. In addition to suddenly feeling very hot for no obvious reason, you may also feel like your heart is racing.
Hot flashes can be a persistent symptom that lasts even after you’ve reached menopause. Night sweats can make sleeping difficult, which can lead to a host of other health issues. Happily, hormone replacement therapy is usually an effective treatment for vasomotor symptoms.
Estrogen, which your body makes less and less of as you progress through menopause, helps maintain the elasticity of your vagina. As your estrogen levels decrease, you may experience vaginal dryness, pain during sexual intercourse, and even have more vaginal and bladder infections. Incontinence may become a problem, as well.
As with vasomotor symptoms, there are effective treatments for vaginal dryness. If you find that you’re having symptoms of vaginal dryness, talking to Dr. Roofeh is your best bet. He can suggest treatments to keep you more comfortable.
You might experience mood swings or increasing symptoms of anxiety or depression. The fact is your hormones influence how you feel. During menopause, women are far more likely to experience depression than other populations.
For many women, life stresses exacerbate the hormonal changes of menopause. Around the same time you’re likely to be experiencing menopause, you may also be caring for aging parents or teenagers. You may have reached a stage in your career where you have more responsibility, or your partner could be beginning to have health issues.
Taking steps to lower your stress levels can be helpful. Build in time for things like exercise, social activities, and pursuing hobbies.
Being fatigued and unable to concentrate are much more subtle symptoms than an irregular period, but they are also very common. Difficulty maintaining your focus, struggling to find the right word, and other cognitive issues are sometimes the result of fluctuating levels of estrogen.
Any kind of big transition in life can be hard to handle, and can even be scary. Understanding what’s happening, knowing what to expect, and feeling like you have some control over events can help.
Knowledge is the best weapon against the symptoms of menopause. Schedule your appointment with Dr. Roofeh today to learn more about the symptoms you’re having.