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10 Facts Women Should Know About Menopause
By Jennie Ou, MD, FACOG
The topic of menopause is one that has been largely stigmatized. It happens to every woman at some point in their lives, so it’s surprising and curious why it’s something we don’t really talk about. Too often, women enter their perimenopausal and menopausal phases unprepared for the many symptoms and changes that come with the end of their reproductive years. We also tend to suffer in silence, dealing with hot flashes, changes in sex drive, and mood swings alone.
Facts About Menopause
At Kelsey-Seybold, we’re changing the way we talk about menopause, starting with sharing 10 facts every woman (and every person) should know about this natural phase of life.
- The average age of menopausal onset is 51, but it can happen earlier or later. Some women even begin experiencing perimenopausal symptoms in their 30s.
- Menopause is officially diagnosed after you’ve gone 12 months without a menstrual period.
- Menopausal symptoms vary by individual, but often include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings and irritability, anxiety, and night sweats. Lesser known and less common symptoms can include dry skin, memory loss, insomnia, electric shock sensations on the skin, and joint pain.
- Menopause can occur naturally from declining levels of estrogen and progesterone, but it can also happen after surgical removal of the ovaries or after undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.
- Your periods can change during the menopause transition, but any increase in bleeding can be a cause of concern and should be evaluated by your physician. In some cases, this may require an endometrial biopsy.
- Menopause can increase your risk of certain medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and urinary incontinence.
- Sexual function can decrease during menopause because of vaginal dryness and loss of elasticity, which can cause discomfort and decreased sensation during sex. These can usually be alleviated with over-the-counter feminine products.
- FDA-approved hormone therapies and non-hormonal treatments can help manage and reduce menopausal symptoms.
- Menopause ends at different times for different women. Symptoms may end once a woman officially reaches menopause (12 months after their final period) or they may continue for some time after. Women who go through premature menopause in their 30s or 40s may have symptoms until they reach the age of natural menopause.
- Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help women lessen the severity of menopausal symptoms and can help them avoid the typical complications of menopause.
Every woman should feel comfortable talking to her doctor about menopause. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re experiencing any perimenopausal symptoms.