Menopause is a normal,
natural progression in your life as a woman. During menopause, you stop producing eggs making ovulation less regular, your body
produces less estrogen and
progesterone, and menstruation
becomes less frequent, eventually stopping altogether. Menopause usually
happens between the ages of 42 and 55.
you permanently stop having a menstrual period for one year, you will have
completed menopause. Often called the "change of life," this stage
signals the end of your ability to have children.
Symptoms of Menopause
enormous drop in estrogen levels causes most menopausal symptoms. While each
woman may experience symptoms differently, the most common effects of this transition
- Hot flashes: About 75 percent of
all women experience sudden, brief, periodic increases in their body
temperature. Usually hot flashes start before a woman's last period and last
for two years or less. This symptom may also involve heart palpitations and
- Vaginal atrophy: Vaginal atrophy
involves the drying and thinning of the tissues of the vagina and urethra. This
can lead to pain during sexual intercourse, as well as vaginitis, cystitis, and
urinary tract infections.
- Relaxation of the
Relaxation of the pelvic muscles can lead to urinary incontinence and also
increase the risk of the uterus, bladder, urethra, or rectum protruding into
- Cardiac effects: Intermittent dizziness, heart palpitations, and
abnormal sensations such as numbness, prickling, tingling, or heightened
sensitivity may occur as symptoms of menopause.
- Hair growth: Changing hormones
can cause some women to experience an increase in facial hair and/or a thinning
of the hair on the scalp.
- Mental health: While some think that mental health may be
negatively affected by menopause, several studies have shown that menopausal
women suffer no more anxiety, depression, anger, nervousness, or feelings of
stress than women of the same age who are still menstruating. Psychological and
emotional symptoms of fatigue, irritability, insomnia, and nervousness may be
related to both the lack of estrogen, the stress of aging, and a woman's
Women’s Hospital offers a range of treatment options tailored to the unique
needs of women going through menopause including:
- Hormone replacement
Hormone replacement therapy provides the female hormones estrogen and
progesterone. HRT is most often prescribed in pill form. However, estrogen can
also be administered with transdermal skin patches and vaginal creams.
- Estrogen replacement
Estrogen replacement therapy provides estrogen alone. ERT is often prescribed
for women who have had a hysterectomy. Estrogen is prescribed as pills, patches
and vaginal creams.
This type of treatment often involves the use of over-the-counter creams that
do not contain estrogen to relieve some of the symptoms associated with
Estrogen alternatives are the so-called “synthetic estrogens,” such as
raloxifene, which may offer the bone-building benefits of estrogen without many
of the possible risks (i.e., an increased risk of endometrial cancer).
Homeopathy and herbal treatments may offer some relief from some symptoms of
When approaching menopause,
every woman should discuss her options, including the potential risks and
benefits of treatment methods, with her doctor. For more information about the
options available to you at St.Vincent Women’s Hospital, call (317) 338-4HER.