Please visit our main Menopausal Symptoms page.
After their childbearing years, women can look forward to “the change,” or menopause. Because there is so much misinformation on the subject, the gynecologists at The Woman’s Health Pavilion on Long Island have provided answers to frequently asked questions.
If you have questions or concerns about menopause, request an appointment with a gynecologist or advanced clinical practitioner at any of our Long Island locations. We see patients 7 days a week and offer same- or next-day appointments for urgent conditions.
What is menopause?
Menopause is the end of menstruation and marks end of your ability to get pregnant. The menopausal transition (“perimenopause”) takes years, and usually starts between the ages of 45 and 55. A woman is considered to have completed menopause when it’s been a full 12 months since her last menstrual period. After this point, any further bleeding would be unexpected, and should be evaluated.
What causes menopause?
Women are born with a finite amount of eggs in their ovaries. During the reproductive years, an egg is released from the ovary each month to permit conception to occur; many eggs also deteriorate and die. Menopause occurs when women start to “run out” of eggs. Because the eggs are responsible for producing a woman’s female hormones, hormone levels decrease dramatically as eggs deteriorate. Without monthly hormonal support, the lining of the uterus no longer grows and sheds, and periods stop.
What are signs and symptoms of menopause?
Menopause is a gradual process. Symptoms typically begin a few years before periods stop, and typically continue for a few years afterwards. Symptoms, which vary between women, may include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Difficulty sleeping
- Mood swings
- Vaginal dryness/painful intercourse
- Loss of libido
How can menopause affect my health?
Over time, the lack circulating female hormones can impact a woman’s body in a variety of ways:
- Cardiovascular system: Post-menopausal women have an increased risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
- Bones: After menopause, bone density may be decreased mildly (osteopenia) or more significantly (osteoporosis), which leads to an increased risk of fractures.
- Vagina: The lack of estrogen causes vaginal tissues to become thin and dry, and to lose elasticity. This condition, called vaginal atrophy, can make intercourse uncomfortable.
- Skin: Loss of collagen decreases the elasticity of the skin and promotes wrinkles and sagging. Many women find that they are prone to dry skin and easy bruising after menopause
When should I see a gynecologist for symptoms of menopause?
Menopause is a natural process. Still, if your symptoms interfere with your quality of life or cause you to miss work or social activities, we’d like to see you. A variety of hormonal and non-hormonal treatments are available to ease the transition. If you have questions or concerns (most women do), you should come in for a consultation.
What treatments do you have for menopause symptoms?
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) options include oral medication, transdermal patches, and vaginal rings and/or tablets.
- Other types of medications have been shown to reduce hot flashes and night sweats. A class of medications called SSRIs has been well studied for this purpose.
- Lifestyle modifications like diet and exercise can help you feel your best during the menopausal transition.
Will a hysterectomy cause menopause?
Surgical removal of the uterus, called hysterectomy, does not cause menopause unless the ovaries are also removed. Removal of the uterus alone puts an end to periods and eliminates the possibility of pregnancy, but it does not cause menopause.
What causes premature menopause?
Menopause is considered premature if it occurs before age 40. The exact cause is not always known, but premature menopause may be associated with:
- Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Crohn’s disease
- Surgical removal of one or both ovaries, or part of an ovary
- Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation
- Chromosome defects such as Fragile X and Turner syndrome
- Thyroid disease
While early menopause generally cannot be reversed, there are treatments available to slow its progression and to reduce associated symptoms.
Should I still use birth control if I’ve gone through menopause?
To avoid possible pregnancy, use birth control for 12 months after your last period. In the case of new partners, latex condoms are recommended protection against many sexually transmitted infections (STIs), even if you have completed menopause.
May We Help You?
Would you like to find out more about our treatments and services? Are you looking for a second opinion on a diagnosis or treatment recommendation you received at another practice? The experienced team at The Woman’s Health Pavilion is happy to help. Just let us know how and when you’d like to hear from us.