Reviewed by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP on February 27, 2018
Test your Knowledge!
- What is premature menopause?
- What are treatments for perimenopause?
- What are symptoms of menopause?
- What is the average age of the onset of menopause?
- What are the most characteristic symptoms of menopause?
- What are health risks that are associated with menopause?
- What kinds of medications or dietary supplements should menopausal women take?
- What are proven alternative therapies for menopause symptoms?
- Which factors can affect the timing of menopause?
- Hot flashes can last from a few minutes to a few hours. True or False?
- Postmenopausal women can still bear children. True or False?
- "Male menopause" is sometimes described as a condition referred to as low testosterone or low T. True or False?
- Menopause increases a woman's risk for depression. True or False?
- Improve your Health I.Q. on Menopause
- Menopause Related Slideshows
- Menopause Related Image Collections
Q:What is premature menopause?
A:Menopause that occurs before the age of 40 – whether natural or induced – is known as "premature" menopause.
In the U.S., the average age of onset for "natural" menopause is 51. However, because of genetics, illness, or medical procedures, some women go through menopause before the age of 40.
Q:What are treatments for perimenopause?
A:During perimenopause, some doctors suggest birth control pills to help with very heavy, frequent, or unpredictable menstrual periods.
Perimenopause, often accompanied by irregularities in the menstrual cycle along with the typical symptoms of early menopause, can begin up to 10 years prior to the last menstrual period. These pills might also help with symptoms like hot flashes, as well as prevent pregnancy. As you get closer to menopause, you might be bothered more by symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, or vaginal dryness. Your doctor might then suggest starting HT.
Q:What are symptoms of menopause?
A:Typically menopause has three main types of symptoms: physical, emotional and sexual.
Problems and symptoms can include hot flashes, night sweats, profuse sweating, difficulty sleeping, headaches, decreased bone density, moodiness, anxiety, forgetfulness and problems with concentration, and vaginal dryness.
Q:What is the average age of the onset of menopause?
A:Although the average age for the onset of menopause is 51, there is no way to determine when a particular woman will have menopause.
Most women will reach menopause between 45 and 55 years of age, although it may be earlier or even later in some women. Women tend to undergo menopause at an age similar to that of their mothers. The age at which a woman began menstruating is not related to the age at which she will reach menopause.
Q:What are the most characteristic symptoms of menopause?
A:Symptoms of menopause vary among women. Some of the most common symptoms are hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood swings, but the extent to which women suffer from all of these is variable.
Some women experience only minimal symptoms, while others may have severe and troublesome symptoms associated with menopause.
Q:What are health risks that are associated with menopause?
A:Health risks associated with menopause include an increased risk for heart disease (the #1 cause of death for U.S. women) and bone density loss (osteoporosis).
Estrogen offers some protection against both of these conditions, so when estrogen levels fall at menopause, the risk increases.
Q:What kinds of medications or dietary supplements should menopausal women take?
A:It depends on the woman, her symptoms, and her medical history.
Menopause is a part of life and is not a disease. Some women may wish to have treatment for bothersome symptoms, but not all women need treatment. A woman should discuss treatment options with her doctor if she desires to be treated for symptoms of menopause. Hormonal therapies are only one of the options available to treat the symptoms of menopause.
Q:What are proven alternative therapies for menopause symptoms?
A:There are no proven alternative remedies for menopause symptoms, although some small studies have suggested a benefit for certain preparations.
These studies in general are not considered to be extensive or thorough enough to prove a benefit for any alternative therapies. Black cohosh (remifemin) is an herbal supplement that is believed to help reduce hot flashes. Black cohosh is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so it is important to be careful about the safety and purity of this and other herbal preparations. Plant estrogens (phytoestrogens) such as soy protein are another popular remedy for hot flashes even though data to show their effectiveness are limited. Inconclusive and conflicting studies indicate that other herbal preparations and supplements including, such as dong quai, red clover (Promensil), chasteberry (Vitex), yam cream, Chinese medicinal herbs, and evening primrose oil, should be avoided or if tried at all, taken with care under the supervision of a health care professional.
Q:Which factors can affect the timing of menopause?
A:Any time the ovaries are surgically removed (oophorectomy) in an ovulating woman, menopause will result immediately.
Further, chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer can result in menopause if given to an ovulating woman. Whether or not this occurs depends upon the type and location of the cancer and the specific treatments given.
Q:Hot flashes can last from a few minutes to a few hours. True or False?
A:False. Hot flashes are usually very brief and last from 30 seconds to a few minutes.
Flushing (reddened skin) can accompany the hot flashes. Sweating can also occur with hot flashes.
Q:Postmenopausal women can still bear children. True or False?
A:False. When menopause occurs, the function of the ovaries ceases.
The ovaries release the mature eggs that are available for fertilization during the normal menstrual cycle. When ovarian function stops, a woman does not have menstrual cycles and can no longer become pregnant.
Q:"Male menopause" is sometimes described as a condition referred to as low testosterone or low T. True or False?
A:True. Some doctors have referred to a decline in testosterone levels as "male menopause," although men do not go through a well-defined period of change as women do.
Men do, however, experience a decline in the production of the male hormone testosterone with aging.
Q:Menopause increases a woman's risk for depression. True or False?
A:True. Changing hormone levels during menopause and midlife can increase the risk for depression in women.
Emotional symptoms related to menopause can include anxiety, fears, and mood swings. Depression during perimenopause and menopause is treated similarly to depression that occurs at other times in life.
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