What is menopause?
Menopause is a natural stage of life when a woman’s menstrual period permanently stops and she can no longer get pregnant. This change does not occur all at once; it takes several years for the body to transition. In the U.S., the average age for menopause is 52, but you officially reach it after it’s been a full year since your last period. This includes any bleeding or spotting. Once you reach menopause, you will begin to experience irregular periods and other menopausal symptoms.
What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause, also known as the menopausal transition, represents the time leading up to your last period. It is a long transition (usually lasting 4 years around the mid to late 40s), when your periods stop and you can no longer get pregnant. As you transition to menopause, your hormone levels will randomly change, causing unexpected symptoms. During this transition, your ovaries will produce different levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone than normal. Irregular periods often occur because you may not ovulate every month. This can result in missed menstrual cycles or unusually longer or shorter ones. Your period might also be much lighter or heavier than usual. Many women also experience hot flashes during this transition.
How can I tell if I am transitioning to menopause?
Identifying perimenopause can be difficult at times. If you experience hot flashes or other symptoms related to menopause, talk with your doctor. Since irregular periods are usually the first sign of menopause, it is very important to track your periods. Your doctor can also test the hormone levels in your blood if your periods have stopped at an early age (before 40). A hormone level test is not usually recommended unless there is a medical reason for conducting it. This is due to the fact that most women see unpredictable fluctuations in hormone levels during perimenopause. So it can be difficult to tell whether you’ve fully transitioned or not.
What are the associated symptoms?
Once a woman reaches menopause, she may experience multiple symptoms:
- Hot flashes, a temporary but recurring episode of flushing with a sensation of warmth or heat on the upper body and face
- Mood swings
- Vaginal dryness
- Trouble sleeping
- Night sweats
- Hair loss from the scalp
- Increased hair growth on the face
- Trouble concentrating
Request an appointment in the San Fernando Valley
If you are experiencing menopausal symptoms, request an appointment at Premier Women’s Health Associates in West Hills, California. Menopause is a difficult transition that is often met with many irritating symptoms. To relieve your symptoms and get advice for self-care, call us at (818) 346-5000 or request an appointment online. We proudly serve Calabasas, West Lake, Thousand Oaks, and the surrounding areas in the San Fernando Valley.