Recognizing the Signs of Menopause and Managing this Life Transition
Updated: Jul 25, 2020
An estimated 2 million women in the United States reach menopause each year. On average, women transition into menopause between the age of 45 and 55. It’s possible to begin experiencing symptoms as early as 35. For most women, this transition lasts between two and ten years. Recognizing the signs and learning how to manage this life transition will help improve how well you feel and function.
Menopause marks the end of your reproductive years, a time when the ovaries wind down their production of hormones. You officially enter menopause when 12 months pass since your last period. The years leading up to your last period are referred to as the menopausal transition (perimenopause).
While it can last as few as two years, it lasts about seven years on average, and can last up to 14 years. A reduction in reproductive hormones triggers a wide array of changes that may cause uncomfortable symptoms that may take a toll on your daily life.
If you experience symptoms of menopause, a visit to a women’s health specialist can help confirm your diagnosis. Here at Caring for Women’s Health, gynecologist Lori Davison, MD and our clinical team are dedicated to helping girls and women stay as healthy as possible through all phases of life. This includes helping you navigate the often-bumpy transition through menopause.
How menopause impacts daily life
Life doesn’t end at menopause. Women transitioning through menopause still live full, active lives. Menopause can cause symptoms that affect you at home and in the workplace. The most common symptoms you may experience include:
Changes in mood
Trouble losing weight
Lack of stamina
This is by no means an exhaustive list of symptoms. Women vary greatly in how they experience menopause. Some women float through their menopause transition without batting an eye. In other cases, menopause causes disruptions in how you think, feel, and function in your daily life. You may find it difficult to concentrate on work, lose interest in your favorite hobbies or find managing home life overwhelming.
Health risks of menopause
In addition to symptoms that can wreak havoc on your daily life, menopause is associated with some very real health risks. Lack of estrogen influences:
Bone health: estrogen plays a key role in osteoblast activity. Osteoblasts are cells that form new bone. When reproductive hormone levels decline, osteoblast activity dips, and bone density declines. This increases the risk of breaking a bone doing everyday activities such as walking or bending.
Vaginal tissue: Decreasing estrogen levels cause the vaginal lining to become thin, dry, and less elastic. Itching, dryness, inflammation, and painful intercourse is a common issue that plagues women transitioning through menopause.
Bladder: Low estrogen can cause changes to the urinary tract that lead to frequent urination and a sudden urge to urinate. It can cause the pelvic floor to weaken, resulting in involuntary passage of urine (stress incontinence) with pressure from laughing, sneezing, or coughing.
Managing the transition through menopause
It’s unnecessary to suffer through disruptive menopausal symptoms. If you’re feeling miserable or just don’t feel like yourself, it’s time to speak with a specialist. Hormone replacement therapy is the most effective tool for managing symptoms of menopause, but it isn’t the only option. Medication to manage your moods, and treatment to address bothersome symptoms can help you feel more like yourself again.
To learn more about how we can help you have a smoother transition through menopause, call our Greenwood, Indiana office to see if your visit can be rescheduled to a Telehealth visit.