Menopause is the time in a women’s life when the ovaries cease to function. It is an actual process, rather than something that just happens one day. And we define it as 12 consecutive months without a period. Menopause typically occurs in your late 40’s or early 50’s, with the average age being 51. Everyone goes through menopause eventually.
Peri-menopause is the transition time to menopause, and that experience is very different for every woman. It typically begins in your 40’s, but can start as early as your 30’s. It is caused by the gradually decreasing levels of estrogen that your body is producing. Some women are definitely more sensitive to these changes than others. The symptoms can last for months or years, up until your body completely transitions to menopause. The symptoms can be subtle or dramatic, ranging from fatigue, difficulty sleeping and irregular menstrual cycles to low sex drive, vaginal dryness and hot flashes.
The good news is that if you are suffering from peri-menopausal symptoms, there are treatment options available to you. Of course, quitting smoking, maintaining a normal weight, eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, getting enough sleep and taking a calcium supplement are all things that can help, but sometimes that is just not enough. A complete history and physical exam will help make the diagnosis and figure out treatment options that are right for you. And every day there are more treatment options available, depending on your individual symptoms. So please don’t feel like you just need to suffer through it.