Menopause is defined as the transition period when the ovaries stop producing eggs and menstruation becomes less frequent. Menstruation eventually stops completely, usually between the ages of 45 and 55. Symptoms are caused by fluctuation in hormone levels such as progesterone and estrogen. The levels of these hormones decrease during the menopausal years.
However symptoms of menopause may also occur at a quicker rate with removal of the ovaries. Night sweats and hot flashes generally are worse for the first 1 or 2 years after the last menstrual flow. Menopausal symptoms may last for or to 5 or more years and symptoms vary among women.
Symptoms of premature menopause are often the same as those experienced by women undergoing natural menopause and may include:
• Irregular or missed periods
• Hot flashes (a sudden feeling of warmth that spreads over the upper body)
• Periods that are heavier or lighter than usual
• Vaginal dryness (the vagina may also become thinner and less flexible)
• Decreased sex drive
• Bladder irritability and worsening of loss of bladder control (incontinence)
• Emotional changes (irritability, mood swings, mild depression)
• Dry skin, eyes, or mouth
In addition to the symptoms listed above, if you are under the age of 40 and experience any of the following conditions, you should see your doctor to determine whether you are undergoing premature menopause:
• You or a family member has an autoimmune disorder such as lupus, hypothyroidism or Graves' disease
• You have undergone chemotherapy or radiation
• Your mother or sister experienced premature menopause
• You have unsuccessfully tried to become pregnant for more than a year
To help determine if you are experiencing the onset of menopause we will perform a physical exam and draw blood. This helps us to rule out other conditions, such as thyroid disease and pregnancy. We may also order a test to measure your estradiol levels since low levels of estradiol, a form of estrogen, can indicate that your ovaries are starting to weaken and eventually fail. Estradiol levels below 30 may signal that you are in face experiencing menopause.
Through every stage of a women's life there are special health concerns and we provide the help you need at each of those stages.
If you would are experiencing the above symptoms, schedule an appointment so we can determine if you are indeed going through menopause, call or contact us with any questions. Please contact us here.
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