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The Road to Menopause

From period panic to the possibility of pregnancy, you’ve been the first to spot these changes taking shape in your body. But what happens when menopause is next up on the list? How can you prepare, what can you expect, and how long will it last? The journey to and through menopause can be a difficult one, but it is easier when you know and understand what to expect.

Think of the journey of menopause as having three phases: perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. Let's break down the differences between all three.

 

PHASE 1: Perimenopause is what happens leading up to menopause.

What’s happening: During perimenopause, the ovaries start producing less estrogen and progesterone. Irregular periods can last for four years, and symptoms vary in every woman. In this stage, you can still get pregnant.

Age: It usually starts at age 40, but can start earlier than 40.

Symptoms:

  • Irregular Periods
  • Hot Flashes
  • Night Sweats
  • Palpitations
  • Vaginal Dryness and Itching
  • Depression
  • Mood Swings
  • Lower Sex Drive
  • Bladder Control Symptoms
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Joint and Muscle Pains

 

PHASE 2: Menopause occurs when you stop menstruating for 12 months.

What’s happening: During menopause, the ovaries completely stop making hormones and you can no longer get pregnant.

Age: Usually happens at 51 but can occur as early as 40.

Symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Mood Swings
  • Low Energy
  • Hot Flashes
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Weight Gain
  • Night Sweats

 

PHASE 3: Postmenopause begins when menopausal symptoms ease.

What’s happening: Your body is experiencing a lack of estrogen, which affects everything from your brain and nervous system all the way to your reproductive system.

Age: Most commonly occurs in women who are 51 or older.

Symptoms:

Health risks related to lack of estrogen can increase, including:

  • Poor Muscle Tone
  • Poor Skin Elasticity
  • Bone Loss
  • Cataracts
  • Alzheimer's
  • Heart Disease
  • Macular Degeneration

Take Note

Menopause happens normally with age but can also stem from the surgical removal of ovaries to treat certain conditions. Additionally, genetics and some autoimmune diseases may cause premature menopause. This is called primary ovarian insufficiency, and women who have it are usually prescribed hormone therapy at least until the natural age of menopause in order to protect the bones, brain, and heart.

What is Hormone Therapy?

In some cases, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help patients with hot flashes and libido, to prevent bone loss, and to manage other symptoms. If you have a uterus, your doctor may prescribe a combination of estrogen and progesterone. If you do not have a uterus, the doctor may prescribe estrogen only. However, HRT is not recommended for every woman, especially if you have a history of breast cancer, uterine cancer, undiagnosed vaginal bleeding, stroke blood clots, or heart attacks.

 

The Scoop on GYN Surgery

Your reproductive health extends far beyond contraceptives and childbirth.

In fact, it’s vital to visit your OB/GYN for an annual visit to keep an eye on your overall gynecological wellness. If you’re wondering about where to go for a gynecologic or urogynecologic procedure, Beebe has the specialists and the minimally invasive resources to treat your disorder and get you back to your everyday routine in a flash.  

With so many recent technological advancements, gynecologic and urogynecologic surgery are now less invasive and more effective with Beebe’s American Institute of Minimally Invasive Surgery (AIMIS) Center of Excellence.

What are the most common reasons for gynecologic surgery? It’s most often used to treat women who have been diagnosed with cervical, uterine, ovarian, vaginal, and vulvar cancer, or who have a hysterectomy.

What are the most common reasons for urogynecologic surgery? It’s commonly recommended for pelvic conditions, such as urinary and fecal incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and vaginal fistulas.  

What does Beebe offer? Beebe offers minimally invasive gynecologic surgery, urogynecology specialty surgery, and laparoscopic hysterectomy procedures.

 

Going through menopause and looking for answers? We're here to help! Contact our Women's Health Nurse Navigator at (844) 316-3330 or [email protected].