≡ Menu

Menopause

What is Menopause?

Often referred to as “the change of life”, menopause is a normal phase during which a woman’s menstrual period ceases. On average, this typically occurs around the age of 51, although some women experience menopause in their 40s or later in their 50s.

hormone-patterns

Stages of Menopause

For many women there seems to be a genetic component (i.e., knowing at what age your mother’s stages began) associated with the onset of the stages of menopause.

There are three stages of menopause:

  1. Perimenopause – the years leading up to a woman’s last period. During this time, a woman will have changes in her levels of estrogen and progesterone.
  2. Menopause – a woman is considered to have been through menopause only after a year without periods.
  3. Postmenopause – after menopause, a woman is in this stage, which lasts the rest of her life.

Want to learn more about Perimenopause? Click here.

Causes of Menopause

Menopause naturally occurs when the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone decline to a level where the menstrual cycle stops.

Early menopause can occur as a result of:

  • Hysterectomy with a salpingo-oophorectomy – a surgery that involves the removal of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
  • Hysterectomy, even when the ovaries are left intact, can lead to a decrease in estrogen and ovarian function, sometimes years after the procedure.
  • Chemotherapy and radiation treatments for certain types of cancer.
  • Chronic stress.
  • Poor diet, drastic and extreme diets.
  • Exposure to chemicals or pesticides.
  • Certain autoimmune diseases.

Symptoms of Menopause

Common symptoms that women may experience during perimenopause can be a continued into the menopause stage. These symptoms may include:

  • Hot flashes.
  • Breast tenderness.
  • Worsening of premenstrual syndrome.
  • Decreased libido (sex drive).
  • Fatigue.
  • Irregular periods; lighter/less frequent periods including skipping.
  • Vaginal dryness; discomfort during sex.
  • Urine leakage when coughing or sneezing.
  • Urinary urgency (a pressing need to urinate more frequently).
  • Mood swings.
  • Anxiety.
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

Treatment Options and Managing Symptoms of Perimenopause and Menopause

Every woman’s symptoms are different and their treatment options need to be tailored to the symptoms they’re experiencing. These treatment options will also be individualized to their overall general health and what stage they’re in the menopause process.

Provider’s who specialize in this stage of a women’s life can create a treatment plan specifically for each woman, monitor for effect and adjust as needed. Risks and benefits will be thoroughly explained so every woman is fully informed, and an active participant in their care. Depending on your age, medical history and family medical history your provider will also discuss which important health screenings you may need (i.e. mammogram, colonoscopy, peripheral artery disease, etc.).

Tips to Help Cope with Minor Symptoms

Here are a few helpful tips that may help provide comfort for women going through menopause:

Hot Flashes

  • Recognize your “triggers” and try to avoid them if possible.
  • Avoid or limit the amount of alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods you consume.
  • Avoid hot beverages, especially before bedtime.
  • Drink plenty of cold liquids.
  • Dress in layers so you can remove as needed.
  • Avoid heavy fabrics.
  • Cotton “breaths” so it is much cooler than synthetic fabrics.
  • Sleep in layers so they can be easily removed.
  • The higher the thread counts of bed linen the better. Indulge yourself if possible!
  • Fans of all kinds are your best friends; ceiling, free standing and/or handheld.
  • Try applying a cool wet cloth to your neck and face.

Vaginal Dryness

Vaginal dryness is a common problem for women during perimenopause and menopause, due to the decline in estrogen. Normally a thin layer of clear fluid lubricates the vaginal walls. Estrogen maintains this fluid and keeps the vaginal walls healthy, thick and elastic. Thinning, drying and loss of elasticity in the vagina can cause uncomfortable itching and discomfort and/or bleeding during or after intercourse. There are products available to treat vaginal dryness. Estrogen creams and water based lubricants are available to assist you. Please speak with your health care provider to discuss what will be best for you.

Sleeping Difficulties

  • Avoid mentally stimulating activity before bedtime (i.e., computer games, work you brought home, television, etc.).
  • No strenuous physical exercise before bedtime. Try to do your workout earlier in the day.
  • Avoid eating right before bedtime and drinking hot beverages.Engage in whatever activity is relaxing for you (i.e., take a bath, listen to music, meditate, read a book, etc.)
  • Place fans in the bedroom. Do not be afraid to have them blowing directly on you.
  • Layer bedding and sleep wear, for easy removal.
  • The higher the thread counts of bed linen the better. Indulge yourself if possible!
  • Have extra pillows for comfort.
  • Keep the bedroom cool, dark and quiet, except for white noise from fan.
  • When you wake up in the middle of the night, relax and allow yourself to fall back asleep.

Mood Swings

  • Avoid stress as much as possible.
  • Enjoy relaxing activities.
  • Take time everyday for yourself.
  • Plan activities or outings YOU enjoy.
  • Engage in regular exercise such as walking or yoga.
  • Take deep breaths before reacting to a bad situation.
  • If your mood swings are more severe and include feelings of depression, anger, or anxiety please see your health care provider.

Memory Changes

As the brain ages it too needs to stay physically fit and be exercised. A balanced healthy diet and sleep are also essential. Take advantage of learning opportunities that are available online, on television education shows and in your local community. Use an online search engine and explore the Internet for brain teasers, exercises, riddles and trivia. A popular website to improve core cognitive functions, is lumosity.com. Puzzle apps are also available for download depending on phone and tablet devices. Even in today’s technology advanced society, mind stimulating games and puzzles still exist and can be found in newspapers and book stores.

Just as your body needs to have physical activity, take the time to routinely keep your brain healthy, alert and active.

Urinary Incontinence

There are options to help with this distressing and potentially embarrassing issue. Talk to your health care provider about what options will be best for you.

The physicians at Arizona Associates for Women’s Health have extensive experience helping patients manage menopause. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please contact us. You can also schedule your appointment online.

Connect

FacebookYouTube

Contact Us

Have questions? Need to schedule your
appointment? Contact us, today!

Contact Us

Member of Physician Group of Arizona, Inc.
Official Healthcare Partner of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury
Navigation