As we age, our bodies undergo many changes, which can be visible and invisible. Especially for women, the first stages of menopause can be a bewildering and confusing stage. Physical and emotional changes affect men as well as women, but are more marked in women. Knowing what to expect and when can make all the difference, enabling the individual to handle the changes and grow with the experience.
When does menopause start?
The mean age at which the first stages of menopause appear for women is 51, but it does vary for individuals. Some women may begin as early as in their 30s, or as late as the 60s. Most commonly, women are between 40 and 58 years of age at the first signs of menopause.
The average age for the start of menopause hasn’t changed for hundreds of years, even though life expectancy has increased dramatically over this time period. For many women, difficult and stressful life conditions can lead to the early onset menopause. Depression and financial hardship are found to be two contributing factors to early menopause.
What are the signs of menopause?
The first stages of menopause are marked by symptoms that are visible and invisible, and emotional as well as physical. The commonest physical symptoms are:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Urinary incontinence
- Pain and/or burning during urination
- Decreased sexual activity
- Menstrual cycle changes
- Vaginal dryness and chronic yeast and bacterial infections
- Heart palpitations
- Joint pain
- Increased food cravings and stubborn weight gain
- Hair loss
Emotional symptoms include depression, anxiety and nervousness; forgetfulness, fuzzy thinking and memory loss; sleep disorders, crying spells and irritability. Menopause is also associated with hormonal loss, which is responsible for many of these symptoms. Bioidentical hormone therapy can be used to treat these and to promote womens health during and after menopause.
The stages of menopause
About 99% of women go through perimenopause before the first stages of menopause. This lasts for about four years and is a period of altered menstrual cycles. During menopause, reduced ovarian functions result in hormonal loss.
Menopause is formally said to be complete when a woman is one year past her last period. Post menopause lasts for for rest of the individual’s life.
Are there any treatments for menopause?
Hormone treatments can be used to provide relief to women going through menopause. It’s a reactively safe treatment for women in their 50s. It can be used for five years without risk of side effects.
Hormone therapy can be individualized and customized, and promotes health and well being through this important transition. Before beginning hormone replacement therapy, women should be screened for risk factors like high blood pressure and breast cancer.
From the first stages of menopause to post menopause is a difficult transition for most women. Bioidentical therapy and other treatments can help in maintaining physical and emotional health through this time.