Have I hit menopause? Good question…not being medical authorities, the answer to this question is determined by how cranky we feel each morning. The authorities would probably agree with our definition but they would define it as the ceasing of menstruation, generally happening about the same time your face starts to get wrinkled. One thing they probably won’t tell you is that the whole process takes about 10 years!
So while you wait, take out your crankiness on doing some research. Here are some reputable sites that may be able to help you, although they probably won’t get rid of your wrinkles:
North American Menopause Society
Menopause is a normal, natural event—defined as the final menstrual period and usually confirmed when a woman has missed her periods for 12 consecutive months (in the absence of other obvious causes)… Frequently asked Menopause Questions
Menopause is the permanent end of menstruation and fertility, defined as occurring 12 months after your last menstrual period… Menopause Definition
National Library of Medicine
Menopause is time in a woman’s life when her periods (menstruation) eventually stop and the body goes through changes that no longer allow her to get pregnant. It is a natural event that normally occurs in women age 45 – 55.
Menopause Causes and Risk Factors
During menopause, a woman’s ovaries stop making eggs and they produce less estrogen and progesterone. Changes in these hormones cause menopause symptoms. Periods occur less often and eventually stop. Sometimes this happens suddenly. But most of the time, periods slowly stop over time.
Menopause is complete when you have not had a period for 1 year. This is called post-menopause. Women who are post-menopausal can no longer get pregnant.
Surgical menopause is when medical treatments cause a drop in estrogen. This can happen if your ovaries are removed, or if you receive chemotherapy or hormone therapy for breast cancer.
Menopause symptoms vary from woman to woman. They may last 5 or more years. Some women may have worse symptoms than others. Symptoms of surgical menopause can be more severe and start more suddenly.
The first thing you may notice is that your periods start to change. They might occur more often or less often. Some women might get their period every 3 weeks. This might last for 1-3 years before the periods completely stop.
Common symptoms of menopause
- Menstrual periods that occur less often and eventually stop
- Heart pounding or racing
- Hot flashes, usually worst during the first 1-2 years
- Night sweats
- Skin flushing
- Sleeping problems (insomnia)
Other symptoms of menopause
- Decreased interest in sex, possibly decreased response to sexual stimulation
- Forgetfulness/Memory Loss
- Mood swings including irritability, depression, and anxiety
- Urine leakage/Incontinence
- Vaginal dryness and painful sexual intercourse
- Vaginal infections
- Joint aches and pains
Menopause Signs and Tests
Blood and urine tests can be used to look for changes in hormone levels. Test results can help you determine if you are close to menopause or if you have already gone through menopause.
Tests that may be done include:
Your health care provider will perform a pelvic exam. Oh yeah! Can’t wait! Decreased estrogen can cause changes in the lining of the vagina. A dry vagina is no joke and may bleed and tear during intercourse. But there are great products and lubricants to help. Bone loss increases during the first few years after your last period. Your doctor may order a bone density test to look for bone loss related to osteoporosis.
Feeling a bit less cranky? There’s lots more info and some great solutions if you poke around this website a bit more. And help from other women who have been there, done that. Now, aren’t you glad you asked??????