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You Aren’t Crazy! It’s Just Menopause.
What is menopause?
Menopause isn’t physically or emotionally kind to the woman going through it. But don’t worry! We’re
in this together. Once you understand what menopause is, what symptoms to expect, and how you can
manage them, the experience is a tiny bit less scary.
Menopause refers to the 12 months after a woman’s last menstrual cycle. Ovaries stop producing
female sex hormones and estrogen levels decline over several years. After menopause, the ovaries stop
releasing eggs and menstruation stops. Menopause is completely natural, although managing the
symptoms can be difficult. It usually happens to women in their 40s or 50s. In America, the average age
for going through menopause is 51 years old.
Perimenopause is the traditional time leading up to menopause, during
which menopause-like symptoms may begin. Menstrual cycles may
become unusually short or long. Ovulation may not occur, despite a
menstrual cycle occurring. These changes usually begin in a woman’s 40s,
although some women notice symptoms in their mid-30s.
Post menopause refers to life after menopause. A woman is
postmenopausal when she has gone an entire year without a period.
Another less widely known version of menopause is surgical menopause. As the name implies, surgical
(or induced) menopause occurs when ovaries are surgically removed. This procedure is referred to as a
bilateral oophorectomy. It is common practice for ovaries to be removed along with the uterus during a
hysterectomy. The most often cited reason is prevention of ovarian cancer. However, there is some
debate about whether or not this is detrimental to premenopausal women.
In some cases, chemotherapy can damage ovaries and cause a woman to go through menopause early.
The changes may be temporary for younger woman but all women undergoing chemotherapy should
understand the risks to her ovaries.
The symptoms experienced in natural and surgical menopause do not differ but they develop at
different speeds. Since ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone, the abrupt drop in these hormones
after the ovaries are removed causes menopause symptoms to begin suddenly in women who
experience surgical menopause.
Every woman has a slightly different experience
menstruating and the same is true for menopause.
Some common symptoms include:
1. Hot flashes
2. Night sweats
3. Sleep problems
4. Mood changes
5. Thinning hair
6. Vaginal dryness
7. Weight gain
While menopause is natural, that doesn’t mean its symptoms should be accepted or ignored as part of
life. If mood swings, insomnia, and hot flashes do not respond to home treatment, reach out to a doctor
Additionally, a medical professional should be contacted if you experience unusually heavy or long
menstrual periods, experience renewed bleeding after 6 or more months without menstruation, or
experience vaginal pain that does not improve with home treatment. These can be symptoms of serious
You don’t need to suffer menopause symptoms alone. The Institute for Women’s Health is available to
help you manage any women’s health issues in San Antonio. For an appointment, call (210) 349-6626.