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Menopause: Just the facts

Menopause is the stage in life where you stop having your menstrual cycle. It’s a normal biological process that marks the end of your reproductive years. For most women, it happens around age 50, but every woman’s body is different and runs on its own schedule.

What happens in menopause?

There are three phases of menopause: perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause. You might be entering the first stage – perimenopause - if you experience any or all of these symptoms:

  • Irregular periods
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Changes in the skin, including acne or dryness
  • Hot flashes
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Mood swings
  • Cognitive changes, including brain fog, anxiety or depression
  • Thinning hair on scalp
  • Unwanted facial hair
  • Weight gain

Some women have only a few mild symptoms. Others have severe symptoms that disrupt sleep and affect their day-to-day activities.

Natural menopause

Menopause that’s not caused by surgery or another medical condition is natural menopause. This normal part of aging, which occurs around age 51 or 52, is the point where your ovaries stop releasing eggs and producing estrogen.

If you have a uterus and have gone 12 consecutive months without a menstrual cycle, we can confirm menopause. Our team can use lab markers to identify when women who have had a hysterectomy enter the menopausal stage. 

Postmenopause

The phase of life after you’ve gone through menopause is called postmenopause. During this stage, many of the menopausal symptoms begin to ease, though some women continue to experience them for years to come.

What treatment options are available?

With every menopause experience being so different, the treatment that’s the right fit for one patient’s symptoms might not be right for another. We focus on treating symptoms that disrupt your life using either hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or non-hormonal treatments.

  • HRT is prescription medicine that helps to relieve your symptoms, including vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. It works by replacing some of the hormones no longer made by your ovaries with artificial estrogen and progesterone. You can take it as a pill, skin patch or as a topical cream.
  • Non-hormonal treatments have also been shown to help alleviate menopausal symptoms. These include:
    • Avoiding triggers (alcohol, caffeine, hot drinks, spicy food)
    • Maintaining a healthy body weight
    • Getting a massage
    • Meditation
    • Not smoking
    • Regular exercise
    • Yoga

Some patients may take over-the-counter herbs or supplements, but it’s still important to exercise caution. Talk with your provider before starting anything new.

No matter what road you decide to go down for your treatment, talk with your provider to help determine your best options.