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    Menopause Health Center

    Menopause

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    Overview

    In addition to dealing with hot flashes, mood swings, and other symptoms that accompany menopause, many women undergoing premature menopause have to cope with additional physical and emotional concerns.

    Premature menopause is menopause that happens before the age of 40 — whether it is natural or induced. Women who enter menopause early get symptoms similar to those of natural menopause, like hot flashes, emotional problems, vaginal dryness, and decreased sex drive. 

    Menopause is the end of a woman's menstrual cycle and fertility. It happens when the ovaries no longer make estrogen and progesterone, two hormones needed for a woman's fertility, and periods have stopped for 1 year.

    Discuss these frequently asked questions and answers about menopause with your doctor.

    The term "menopause" is commonly used to describe any of the changes a woman experiences either just before or after she stops menstruating, marking the end of her reproductive period.

    Menopause simply means the end of menstruation for one year. As a woman ages, there is a gradual decline in the function of her ovaries and the production of estrogen.

    Causes and Symptoms

    Some women experience induced menopause as a result of surgery or medical treatments, such as chemotherapy and pelvic radiation therapy.

    If menopausal symptoms occur, they may include hot flashes, night sweats, pain during intercourse, increased anxiety or irritability, and the need to urinate more often.

    Loss of estrogen is believed to be the cause of many of the symptoms associated with menopause.

    Could migraines be a symptom of menopause? Find out more.

    Millions of women with menopausal-like symptoms, even those taking estrogen, may be suffering from undiagnosed thyroid disease. While symptoms such as fatigue, depression, mood swings, and sleep disturbances are frequently associated with menopause, they may also be signs of hypothyroidism. 

    Diagnosis and Tests

    Because hormone levels may fluctuate greatly in an individual woman, even from one day to the next, they are not a reliable indicator for diagnosing menopause.

    So what about this new home menopause kit? It tests the level of FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) in the urine.

    Knowing how to talk to your doctor or other members of your health care team can help you get the information you need about menopause.

    Hot Flashes/Sweats

    Hot flashes occur in more than two-thirds of North American women during perimenopause and almost all women with induced menopause or premature menopause.

    Doctors often hear their patients complain of night sweats. Night sweats refer to excess sweating during the night.

    Protecting Your Health

    The risk of breast cancer increases with age. That is why it is very important for all menopausal women to get regular mammograms.

    Menopause itself is not linked to a higher risk of developing cancer. But the rates of many cancers, including ovarian cancer, do rise with age. 

    Because the risk of cancer increases with age, having regular pelvic exams may help in early detection of certain cancers in both menopausal and postmenopausal women.

    There is a direct relationship between the lack of estrogen after menopause and the contribution to osteoporosis. Because symptoms of osteoporosis may not develop until bone loss is extensive, it is important for women at risk for osteoporosis to undergo regular bone testing.

    Once a woman reaches the age of 50, about the age of natural menopause, her risk for heart disease increases dramatically. In young women who have undergone early or surgical menopause, who do not take estrogen, their risk for heart disease is also higher. 

    If you're going through menopause, you may be concerned about health problems. People who have one or more specific risk factors for coronary heart disease may be at much greater risk for heart disease than people with no risk factors. 

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