Am I Going Through Menopause?
The diagnosis of going through menopause, or even perimenopause, can be debilitating for some women, and not just physically. The mental aches and realizations that come with such a diagnosis can be the worst part for some. One of the major challenges with being able to recognize the life event is that there is no true start or stop points, menopause can be completely different experiences for women, and of course, the sometimes difficult-to-overcome symptoms are all associated with the “mid-life change.”
What is Menopause?
The dictionary defines menopause as, “The ceasing of menstruation,” and if that’s all that happened, there likely wouldn’t be a need for this blog. All women have a menopause season in their life. The typical age falls between 45 and 50. The process can take years, and, yes, eventually your menstrual cycles do stop. But what’s really happening inside your body during menopause?
Your ovaries create the hormones estrogen and progesterone, both responsible for menstruation and ovulation. The menopause process happens when your ovaries no longer release an egg every months and your cycles stop.
What is Premature Menopause?
Menopause is a part of the aging process for all women, but in certain cases the change can start earlier than expected. If menopause begins in a woman under the age of 40, it’s considered premature menopause, and can happen for a few reasons such as a hysterectomy, or damage to the ovaries caused by chemotherapy.
What is the Menopause Process?
Menopause occurs in three stages.
- Perimenopause – The stage of pre-menopausal symptoms and body changes that suggest menopause is a few years away. The ovaries slow the estrogen production, which usually drops off sharply one to two years before stage two – menopause.
- Menopause – Stage two is recognized when it has been one year since a woman’s last menstrual cycle. Ovaries are no longer releasing eggs and most estrogen production is nearly depleted.
- Postmenopause – As the name suggests, stage three consists of the years after menopause. At this point most women are experiencing fewer symptoms – like hot flashes and mood shifts – but other health risks related to low estrogen levels may arise.
Symptoms of Menopause
You’ve likely hears stories or made jokes related to the hot flashes associated with menopause, but it’s a very real thing. A woman going through menopause can feel sudden warmth spread throughout her body, causing flushed cheeks and sweating. While the life change affects each woman differently, there are some common symptoms that may suggest you’re approaching or in menopause:
- Bladder control problems
- Changes in sex drive
- Irregular or missed periods
- Joint and muscle aches and pains
- Mood swings
- Racing heart
- Vaginal dryness
Be sure to talk with your doctor about some health risks that can occur after menopause and are often linked to low estrogen, like heart disease, lack of muscle power, or poor vision. There are a number of treatments available, but visiting your doctor regularly and keeping him aware of changes to your body is the best way to stay healthy.
Gynecologist Reno, Nevada
Through self-realization of the symptoms or explaining your body’s changes to your Reno gynecologist, you’ll be able to determine if you’re in menopause. Your OBGYN can also complete a blood test to be certain. Searching gynecologists near me on your smart phone will help direct you to Reno gynecologist Dr. Sam Chacon.