Facts every woman should know before menopause

Hot flashes, irregular periods, and mood swings are symptoms of menopause symptoms. If you’re not over 50, you may feel it’s too soon. It’s impossible to anticipate the arrival of menopause, but it can occur sooner than women might expect.

Menopause is a natural change in life for women and is not something to be feared. There are many ways to deal with the symptoms of menopause. We recommend talking to your health care provider to discuss your options.

Before menopause

Most women’s bodies prepare for menopause with a stage called perimenopause. It usually begins in the mid-to-late 40s but can start as early as the mid-30s. Perimenopause can last two to eight years, with the average being four years. 

The earliest changes likely go unnoticed. The ovaries produce fewer eggs and the level of estrogen declines. About one to two years before menstrual periods stop, the changes may become obvious. They can include hot flashes, mood swings, sleep problems, vaginal dryness and irregular periods.

Perimenopause should not be confused with early or premature menopause, where a woman’s period stops completely near or before her mid-40s. Those cases may be influenced by family history, smoking or medical treatments.

After perimenopause comes menopause, which occurs for most women at the age of 52. Menopause is medically confirmed when an individual has gone 12 months without her period, including no spotting or bleeding. At this time, the ovaries stop producing eggs and women can no longer become pregnant. 

The transition can go beyond physical changes, affecting mood and mental health, as well. This may include an increase in anxiety or symptoms of depression.

How to cope with menopause

The following coping mechanisms may help improve your day-to-day outlook and wellness through this phase:

  • Move more. Regular exercise contributes toward better health through all life’s stages, including menopause. Try to find some form of movement that is both motivating and rewarding.
  • Eat right. Contemplate adding more healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins into your daily diet. Avoid weight gain and limit alcohol intake to help potentially curb or alleviate perimenopausal discomfort.
  • Consider acupuncture. Some research suggests acupuncture may help with moderate to severe menopausal symptoms, such as controlling hot flashes. However, additional analysis may be needed to assess the effect on perimenopausal symptoms.

Menopause is a natural life stage, though the symptoms may be bothersome. Communicating concerns and questions with your primary care provider can go a long way to understanding and managing your body’s changes. 


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