Menopause is the time of life when your menstrual cycle stops and you can no longer become pregnant. You officially reach menopause when you haven’t had a period for 12 consecutive months. The average age of menopause is 51.
Before your periods end, you go through perimenopause. Perimenopause can last for five years or more as your estrogen levels fluctuate and decline. This can start in your early 40s.
The hormonal changes that accompany perimenopause and menopause can cause uncomfortable and disruptive symptoms like:
- Irregular bleeding or periods
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Weight gain
- Vaginal dryness
- Decreased sex drive
- Painful sex
- Increased irritability
- Trouble sleeping
- Depression and anxiety
- Hair and skin dryness
- Joint pain
- Forgetfulness, poor concentration
Each woman has a unique experience with menopause. Your symptoms can vary and range in severity. Your experience could be completely different than your sister, mother, or friends. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, be sure to make an appointment with your health provider because there are treatment options and because these changes may be signs of other health problems.
-Stephanie Romer, APN, WHNP-C