Menopause occurs when ovaries stop making estrogen and menstrual periods stop. Menopause marks the end of a woman’s reproductive life and happens, on average, when a woman is 51 years old. Menopause is diagnosed when a woman no longer has menstrual bleeding for 12 consecutive months. The years leading up to menopause are called perimenopause and can begin as early as the 30s or 40s. It is during this time when the most pronounced symptoms normally associated with menopause begin to appear.
Women who are approaching menopause begin to experience changes to their menstrual cycle. They may bleed longer or shorter than normal with heavier or lighter flows. While this is expected, changes in menstrual cycle should be reported to Dr. Ricci to rule out more serious causes. Common symptoms of perimenopause are hot flashes, sleep problems, vaginal dryness, and slight weight gain. These symptoms typically subside once a woman experiences menopause, but can disrupt her life if left untreated. In menopausal women, bone loss happens the most rapidly during the four to eight years after menopause. A result of decreased levels of estrogen in the body, too much bone loss can result in osteoporosis. The lack of estrogen available to the body after menopause results in a lack of protection against high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
While maintaining a proper diet, healthy weight, and active lifestyle is the best way to alleviate the symptoms of menopause, the symptoms of perimenopause can be managed through a variety of prescription medications. In some cases, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is administered to alleviate severe perimenopausal symptoms.
For more information on menopause or to request a consultation for treatment of symptoms associated with menopause and perimenopause, contact the office of Dr. Stephanie Ricci at Newport Beach OB/GYN Medical Group, Inc.
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