Menopause occurs when your body begins producing less estrogen and progesterone, two hormones that play a major role in sexual reproduction, but also have important roles in other aspects of your health and wellness. You’re considered to be “in menopause” when you haven’t had a period in 12 consecutive months. The time leading up to menopause is actually called perimenopause (or sometimes premenopause), but many people use the term menopause to include the time leading up to and including the cessation of periods. Most women begin experiencing symptoms of perimenopause in their early to mid 40s, with periods ending once a woman reaches her mid 50s.
Menopause can cause an array of symptoms, including:
Some women have severe symptoms, while others may have mild symptoms. Plus, your symptoms can change during the months and years leading up to cessation of your periods. Once you’re in menopause, you’re at increased risks for other medical issues, including osteoporosis and heart disease.
Once you’re “officially” in menopause, you can’t become pregnant, but during perimenopause, you can still become pregnant and should still use birth control.
Menopause is a natural event, and there’s no “cure.” However, there are treatments that can help relieve many of the symptoms and potentially reduce your risk for serious medical issues, like heart disease and osteoporosis.
Some treatment options address individual symptoms, like vaginal lubricants to reduce dryness and painful intercourse or medications to improve mood or sleep patterns,
Many women opt for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) using bioidentical hormones to replace the hormones that are no longer being produced by the body. HRT can address multiple symptoms of menopause, and bioidentical hormones use the same chemical structure as the hormones produced by your body, so they have fewer risks compared to traditional hormone treatments. Plus, if you opt for HRT, your hormone levels will be monitored throughout your treatment to ensure treatment remains optimized for your needs.
Having a bone density test and being screened for heart disease are also important for identifying potential issues and helping you maintain optimal health during menopause.