How do I know if I am in menopause?

All women will experience menopause at some point in their life.  It is a natural part of aging.  Menopause is defined as the cessation of menstrual function when all of the eggs in the ovary have reached the end of their functional lifespan.  Menopause typically occurs in the early to mid-50, but this is variable among women.  It can occur as early as age 40, and some women don’t go through their change until their mid to late 50’s.  If menopause occurs before age 40, it is termed premature.  This requires a special evaluation and treatment. With people living longer, healthier lifestyles, women can possibly live up to ½ of the lives in menopause, thus making hormone balancing extremely important.  

Typically, the first sign of menopause are changes in the menstrual cycle. Cycles over time become further apart, and eventually stop.  You might notice that menstrual cycles become closer together before they start spacing out.  Hot flashes, known as vasomotor symptoms may start to occur.  This brings a warm uncomfortable wave throughout the body.  If this occurs at night, known as night sweats, they can wake you from a deep sleep resulting in insomnia or poor sleep patterns.  Poor sleep can lead to poor health in many ways.  Soon thereafter, other symptoms begin as listed below.  

Menopause brings with it many symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, mood instability, decreased libido, weight gain, urinary tract problems, indigestion, bone loss, hair loss, memory loss, and many more.  

Your doctor can do a blood test to see if you are in menopause.  It is called a follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) level.  During menopause, FSH levels rise sharply.  This is generally correlated with absence of periods or amenorrhea.

Estrogen has over 400 functions in the body, so losing it at menopause has a huge impact on a woman’s body.  Hormone replacement carries with it many choices, so it is important to see a doctor who understands all of the options, in order to help you select a safe, effective one, if any. If you choose to begin hormone therapy there will be many options including synthetic vs. bioidentical. Bioidentical hormones allows your doctor to individualize a hormone replacement plan that can be tailored to your specific symptoms and needs.  Most importantly your doctor needs to understand how you feel on hormone replacement and test you periodically to make sure you are on the correct formulation which can change as you age.  

If you would like to know more about menopause, and if Dr. Peters can help you feel better and live a healthier, better quality life, please call to set up a consultation with him.  He will answer all of your questions, and get you on the right path to wellness.