Defining and Treating Menopause
Menopause marks the complete and permanent end of a woman’s menstrual cycle. It occurs when her ovaries cannot make any more of the hormones crucial to fertility, estrogen and progesterone; if her period has stopped occurring for one year; or if it is induced by a treatment, surgery or illness. For most women, menopause is a gynecological condition that begins around the age of 51, although it’s been to known to occur as early as age 40; regardless of the exact time frame, each woman is different, and when it begins is determined by her genetics. From the very beginning stages to any form of treatment necessary, our dedicated staff is ready to assist you in this new phase of your life.
Common Symptoms of Menopause
Some symptoms are worse than others, can last up to years at a time and may even affect a woman’s quality of life. While many women experience an irregular menstrual cycle as their very first symptom that menopause is drawing near, the signs will only progress as you enter the multiple stages. Symptoms of menopause that are commonly experienced include mood swings, headaches, pain during sexual intercourse, trouble sleeping, hot flashes, sweating, a racing heartbeat, vaginal dryness, vaginal soreness, mood swings and a lower sex drive.
The 3 Stages of Menopause
Menopause occurs in a 3-stage series, happening slowly over time:
- Perimenopause: Occurring when a woman’s body is making the transition into menopause, perimenopause is the first stage. It usually begins with menstrual irregularity, beginning in your 40’s, and is marked by the unbalanced rising and falling of estrogen levels. Your menstrual cycles will become irregular, but you still have the ability to become pregnant.
- Menopause: As mentioned, menopause is the final occurrence of your menstrual period, defined by the 12-month mark of being period-free. This happens around the age of 51, and a woman can no longer become pregnant. You will begin to experience the symptoms of menopause full on by this stage.
- Postmenopause: This last stage of menopause happens a year after a woman’s final period occurs, and she will remain in this stage until the end of her life. While the typical menopausal symptoms will cease (or at least become subdued), a woman in postmenopause is put at a higher risk for some health conditions – namely osteoporosis and heart disease.
Menopausal Treatment Plans
Because menopause is not a disease, women are only able to treat their symptoms. In our office, we are able to provide prescription medication for hot flashes – one of the most reported symptoms among our patients. In a treatment called combination hormone therapy, we administer both estrogen and progesterone to women who still have a uterus. Prescription medication – in addition to over-the-counter medication – are also beneficial for vaginal dryness, which is especially great for women who are experiencing pain during sexual intercourse. Women experiencing this pain are also encouraged to consider topical estrogen and lubricants. Lifestyle changes are also advised, such as a healthy diet and strict exercise regimen – both of which can help manage various symptoms. Avoiding triggers like caffeine and spicy foods are also forms of simple symptom treatment. Although you should always consult Dr. Quartell before trying any alternative treatments, women can also seek comfort through various relaxation techniques and other natural remedies.
Schedule an OB/GYN Appointment in NJ
If you feel that you are entering the first stages of menopause, we at Anthony C. Quartell, M.D. & Associates are here to help you every step of the way. Contact us at 973-968-4611 to schedule an appointment today.