Menopause is the time when a woman’s period permanently ends. It is typically diagnosed after a woman has stopped menstruating for 12 consecutive months. The average age of menopause is 51, but each woman’s experience is different.
Though menopause is a natural process, it can cause symptoms like hot flashes, mood changes, sleep disruptions and fatigue. These symptoms are caused by changing levels of sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone, which regulate a variety of important bodily functions.
Despite these changes, it is possible for women to remain healthy, active and sexual before, during and after menopause. Anti-aging treatment can help many women ease or eliminate the symptoms of menopause and experience better quality of life by restoring hormones to normal levels.
What Causes Menopause?
Menopause is the natural result of a woman’s ovaries running out of functioning eggs. This coincides with lower production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone in the ovaries during a transitional period called perimenopause, which may last months or years before menopause. Typically, these changes lead to menstrual irregularity in the 40s and the complete end of menstruation in the 50s.
Menopause can also be caused by:
- Bilateral oophorectomy or total hysterectomy. Surgery to remove the ovaries or the ovaries and uterus will result in immediate menopause.
- Radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Some cancer treatments can permanently or temporarily end menstruation and fertility.
- Primary ovarian insufficiency. Due to genetic factors or autoimmune diseases, the ovaries can fail to maintain normal hormone levels. For about one percent of women, this results in premature menopause, or menopause before the age of 40.
Symptoms of Menopause
In the time before and after menopause, women can experience a variety of symptoms like:
- Dry skin
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Low sex drive
- Hair thinning
- Mood swings
- Heart palpitations
- Urinary incontinence
- Anxiety, irritability or depression
- Vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse
- Weight gain and slower metabolism
- Menstrual irregularity
For some women, these symptoms are frequent and severe. For others, they are mild or nonexistent. Menopausal women may also be at a higher risk of the following medical conditions:
- Uterine and breast cancer
- Bone fractures
- Heart disease
Testing and Treatment
Though many women cope with the symptoms of menopause because they believe them to be a natural part of aging, symptoms are caused by an imbalance [Causes of Aging: Hormonal Decline] in reproductive hormones like estrogen and progesterone, and treatment to restore these hormones to a normal level can relieve or permanently resolve many symptoms.
If you believe you may be suffering from the symptoms of menopause, a test of your hormone levels by saliva and/or blood can assess current hormone levels and help you find the most appropriate form of treatment.
Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) reintroduces hormones to the body in a form that is exactly the same as the hormones produced by the body in younger years, making them maximally effective at treating symptoms and restoring health. The methods and amount of hormones used depend on which hormones are missing and where a woman is in her cycle.