Menopause officially begins when you’ve gone 12 consecutive months without menstruating. Symptoms like night sweats are common right before, during, and after menopause. Treatment can help manage them.
Menopause occurs from hormone changes as the body nears the end of its reproductive years.
After menopause, you will have no more periods. In the United States, menopause happens on average at age
Menopause can cause symptoms such as hot flashes and weight changes. Treatment can help manage these symptoms.
Read on to learn what you need to know about menopause.
Menopause symptoms usually start about
Premature menopause or primary ovarian insufficiency is when menopause begins before age
Everyone’s experience of menopause is unique. Some people experience severe and wide-ranging symptoms, while others may barely notice the change.
Apart from the presence or absence of menstruation, the symptoms of perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause are similar.
The most common early symptoms of perimenopause are:
- less frequent menstruation
- heavier or lighter periods than usual
- vasomotor symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, and flushing
Hot flashes last on average
Other common symptoms of menopause include:
- vaginal dryness
- weight gain
- difficulty concentrating
- memory problems
- reduced libido, or sex drive
- dry skin, mouth, and eyes
- increased urination
- sore or tender breasts
- racing heart
- urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- reduced muscle mass
- painful or stiff joints
- reduced bone mass
- less full breasts
- hair thinning or loss
- increased hair growth on other areas of the body, such as the face, neck, chest, and upper back
Around the same time that menopause happens, the chances of various other health-related issues increase. It can be hard to distinguish the complications of menopause and those related to aging.
Some complications or health changes you may experience around this time include:
Menopause is a natural process that results from
These changes are linked to a loss of active ovarian follicles. These structures produce and release eggs from the ovary wall and allow menstruation and fertility.
In some cases, menopause occurs early from surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, a pelvic injury, or other factors affecting the reproductive organs. This is called induced menopause.
Anyone assigned female at birth will likely experience menopause at some time. Gender transition surgery or hormone treatment may bring on menopause during or after treatment. Changes in the levels of certain hormones can induce symptoms of menopause regardless of a person’s gender or sex assigned at birth.
Most people know they are approaching or starting menopause when they begin having symptoms such as hot flashes or when they have not had a period for 12 months.
Not everyone needs to seek medical advice during menopause. If you do, however, a doctor may use a blood test to confirm if menopause is likely. These tests can include the following:
- The PicoAMH Elisa diagnostic test can
help determinewhether menopause has begun.
- Other blood tests can measure levels of FSH and estradiol, a form of estrogen. Blood levels that are consistently 30 mIU/mL or higher, combined with a lack of menstruation for 1 year, can usually confirm menopause.
- Saliva tests and over-the-counter (OTC) urine tests are also available, but they can be expensive and are not always reliable.
Depending on your symptoms and health history, a doctor may also order additional blood tests to help rule out other underlying conditions that may causing your symptoms. These tests can include:
- thyroid function tests
- blood lipid profile
- liver function tests
- kidney function tests
- testosterone, progesterone, prolactin, estradiol, and chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) tests
It’s worth seeking medical help if menopause symptoms are affecting your daily life, you have other symptoms not related to menopause, or you’re experiencing menopause symptoms and are younger than age 45 years.
Treatment for menopause symptoms include:
- hormonal treatments to help manage hot flashes and other symptoms
- lubricants for vaginal dryness
- supplements and medications to help prevent osteoporosis
If you experience discomfort as menopause approaches, talk with a doctor. They can guide you through the process and provide treatments that help manage your symptoms.
Some lifestyle strategies and home or alternative treatments can also help manage some menopause symptoms.
Keep cool and stay comfortable
- Dress in loose, layered clothing that you can remove or put on easily to help manage hot flashes.
- Keep your bedroom cool and avoid heavy blankets to reduce night sweats.
- Carry a portable fan to help cool you down when you feel flushed.
Exercise can help strengthen your body, boost overall well-being, and manage weight.
Communicate your needs and get support
Mental health concerns, such as depression, anxiety, sadness, and isolation, can occur during menopause.
You can try talking with family or friends, joining a local support group, or seeking counseling to help you manage the changes that are occurring.
Getting a variety of essential nutrients through a varied, balanced diet can boost your overall well-being during menopause.
Ask a doctor for advice on supplements for your individual needs. A doctor can also make sure a supplement will not interact with any medications you may be taking.
Techniques for managing stress include relaxation and breathing exercises, such as:
Take care of your skin
Apply moisturizers daily to reduce skin dryness. Try to avoid excessive sun exposure and harsh cosmetics and cleansing products, too. They may dry out your skin.
Manage sleeping issues
Getting enough sleep is essential for overall health and well-being.
Talk with your doctor if you regularly have trouble sleeping. They can help you manage it and get a better night’s rest.
Avoid smoking and limit alcohol use
A high alcohol intake may make you feel worse as well. Limiting alcohol consumption to
Some people use alternative remedies to increase estrogen levels, but there’s not enough evidence to prove they are safe or effective.
These alternative remedies include:
What are the three stages of menopause?
There are three stages of menopause: perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause.
Perimenopause occurs before menopause. During this stage, menstruation becomes irregular and menstrual flow may be heavier or lighter. You may experience symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.
Menopause is when menstruation has not occurred for 1 full year. Hot flashes and other symptoms continue.
Postmenopause refers to the years after menopause. During these years, menopause symptoms usually taper off, but other health issues may begin, such as osteoporosis.
What are the first signs of menopause?
Early signs of menopause typically include irregular periods, but you may also start to notice hot flashes, mood changes, and other symptoms.
What happens in menopause?
As you come to the end of your reproductive years, your body starts to produce less estrogen and eventually menstruation stops. This drop in estrogen can lead to a range of symptoms, such as hot flashes.
Menopause marks the natural end of fertility and occurs 12 months after the last period.
In the United States, menopause happens on average at age 52 years but may occur sooner or later. Surgery, various medical treatments, and other factors can cause it to happen earlier.
Symptoms of menopause may start several years earlier and include menstrual changes, hot flashes, night sweats, and flushing. Symptoms can continue for several years after menopause.
Hormone therapy, lifestyle strategies, and other treatments can help manage symptoms. If you have troublesome symptoms that may be due to menopause, consider talking with a doctor for treatments and support.