Menopause is the point in your life when your ovaries stop producing enough hormones to keep the menstrual cycle going. After 1 year of having no periods, you've reached menopause. It usually happens around age 50, but everyone's body has its own timeline.
Having cancer treatment or surgery to remove the ovaries can cause menopause to start early.
Menopause is a natural part of growing older. You don't need treatment unless your symptoms bother you.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
Menopause symptoms include hot flashes, trouble sleeping, and vaginal dryness. You may have only a few mild symptoms. Or you might have severe symptoms. Symptoms tend to get worse the first year after menopause. But then many of them improve or go away.
How is menopause diagnosed?
Your age, your history of menstrual periods, and your symptoms will tell your doctor if you are near or at menopause. If you can, bring a calendar or journal of your periods and symptoms.
You likely won't need to be tested to see if you have started perimenopause or reached menopause. But if your doctor suspects another medical condition, you may have some tests. Tests may include a pregnancy test or hormone tests.
If you have heavy, irregular periods, your doctor may want to do tests to rule out a serious cause of the bleeding. Heavy bleeding may be a normal sign of perimenopause. But it can also be caused by infection, disease, or a pregnancy problem.
How is menopause treated?
Menopause is a natural part of growing older. You don't need treatment for it unless your symptoms bother you. But if your symptoms are upsetting or uncomfortable, you don't have to suffer through them. There are treatments that can help.
The first step is to have a healthy lifestyle. It may help reduce symptoms and also lower your risk of heart disease and other long-term problems related to aging.
All medicines for menopause symptoms have possible risks or side effects. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your possible health risks before you start a treatment.
Medicines may include:
- Hormonal birth control before menopause.
- Hormone therapy (HT).
Remember, you can still get pregnant until you reach menopause. To prevent an unplanned pregnancy, keep using birth control until you have not had a period for 1 full year.