A Quick Guide for Women Over 40
Menopause marks a significant point in a woman’s life. This is the time when she leaves her child-bearing years and stops having periods. It officially begins after going a full year without vaginal bleeding. Other changes occur during this time, including a decrease in hormone production. There is a spectrum of time when menopause appears but most commonly happens between the ages of 49 and 52.
Before menopause, you will experience perimenopause. This is a transition period that usually occurs several years earlier. The ovaries begin producing less estrogen once a woman enters her 40’s. Perimenopause lasts an average of four years and includes common symptoms like:
- Hot flashes
- Tender breasts
- Decreased sex drive
- Urinary urgency & leakage
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood swings
- Worsened premenstrual syndrome
- Difficulty sleeping
Irregular periods are also common during this time. Spotting after sex or between periods, periods that are very heavy or include blood clots, longer periods, and periods that are closer together are not normal and could indicate that a problem exists. If you notice any of these symptoms, talk to your OB/GYN right away.
You may notice some of the same symptoms when you enter menopause, including hot flashes, fatigue, and insomnia. There may be some new signs that appear as well, like:
- Joint or muscle pain
The experience is different for every woman, so you may not notice all of the symptoms listed here.
Menopause Risks & Treatments
While menopause is completely natural, it can put you at a higher risk for other health problems like osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease. It is best to remain active and maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle to lower risks. Your Women’s Health and Menopause Center doctor may also recommend treatments like hormone replacement therapy or estrogen therapy.
To learn more about menopause and its risks, make an appointment with a Women’s Health and Menopause Center OB/GYN to make recommendations to help you stay healthy as you age.