Menopause is the time in a woman's life when she stops having monthly periods. At this time, her ovaries stop releasing eggs and stop making the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. The average age is 51.
How do I know if I am going through menopause? —
Most women start to wonder about menopause when their periods start to change. If you are going through menopause, you might:
If your uterus has been removed, but you still have your ovaries, it might be tough to tell when you are going through menopause. Still, women who do not have a uterus can have menopause symptoms. If your ovaries were removed before the usual age of menopause, you had what doctors call "surgical menopause." That just means that you went through it early because your ovaries were removed.
What are the symptoms of menopause? —
Some women go through menopause without symptoms. But most have 1 or more of these symptoms:
Should I see a doctor ? — If your periods start changing and you are 45 or older, you do not need to see your doctor. But you should see your doctor if you have symptoms that really bother you. For instance, you should see your doctor if you cannot sleep because of night sweats, if it is hard to work because of your hot flashes, or if you feel sad or blue and don't seem to enjoy things anymore.
You should also see your doctor if you:
Is there a test for menopause? —
There is a test that can point to menopause. But doctors usually use that test only in women who are too young to be in menopause or who have special circumstances.
Can I still get pregnant? —
As long as you are still having periods, even if they do not happen often, you could get pregnant. If you have sex and do not want to get pregnant, use some form of birth control. If you have not had a period for a full year, it is probably safe to say you have been through menopause and can no longer get pregnant.
How are the symptoms of menopause treated? — Treatments include:
Can I do anything on my own to reduce the symptoms of menopause? —
Yes. There are some steps you can try . But ask your doctor before you take any "natural remedies." Some natural remedies might not be safe, especially for women who have a history of breast cancer.
What can I do to protect my bones? — You can:
If needed, your doctor can prescribe medicines to help keep your bones strong.