Menopause is a natural transitional process that marks the end of your menstrual cycle. As you grow older and towards your 30s, your body produces less estrogen and progestin hormones. For this reason, your fertility decreases, and in your 40’s, your periods may become irregular. You officially reach menopause in Houston when you have gone a year without menstrual periods. During this period, where your body experiences fluctuation in hormone levels, you may experience symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, mood changes, and sleep problems.
These symptoms can affect your quality of life, and the hormonal changes may also put you at risk of health conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The following information expounds on menopause and all you need to know.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
You might start experiencing menopause symptoms during perimenopause which could be months or years before you officially get to menopause. These symptoms can be mild or severe and affect your quality of life. The most common menopausal symptoms include:
- Loss of breast volume
- Weight gain
- Irregular periods
- Dry skin
- Thinning hair
- Reduced sex drive
When should I see a doctor?
Always seek help from your doctor if the menopausal symptoms get in the day of your daily activities or if you are below 45 years and have the symptoms. If you are below 45 years, your doctor may recommend a blood test to measure your hormone levels. Since your risk of chronic illnesses increases during menopause, your doctor may recommend screening tests such as colonoscopy and mammography to check for any abnormal cells.
Early screening allows your doctor to detect cancer cells before they spread throughout the body. It is also easier and more effective to treat cancer during its onset stages, and a patient’s chances of survival are also higher at this time.
What causes menopause?
Typically, menopause results from a decline in the production of reproductive hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in your body, which naturally occurs as you age. These hormones regulate menstruation, and a fluctuation in their levels causes a change in your menstrual periods. They may become heavier, lighter, longer, and more or less frequent. Eventually, your ovaries stop releasing eggs, and your menstrual periods stop.
Although the menopausal transition is mainly between 45 and 55, menopause can occur earlier. There is no apparent cause of premature menopause, but here are different reasons why menopause may start earlier.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
Patients may experience hot flashes during or after cancer therapies. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy may also affect menstruation and fertility, but this is usually temporal. Radiotherapy to other body parts does not cause menopause. However, radiation therapy can alter ovarian function if directed at the ovaries.
Primary ovarian insufficiency
Primary ovarian insufficiency occurs when your ovaries fail to produce normal levels of reproductive hormones or release eggs regularly. It often leads to infertility, but women with this problem can still get pregnant. Primary ovarian insufficiency causes symptoms similar to menopause like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and night sweats. However, the two conditions are different since women with primary ovarian insufficiency can occasionally have periods for years.
If you have bothersome menopausal symptoms, book a session with your doctor at Memorial Women’s Specialists for treatment to improve your quality of life.