Common menopause symptoms are hot flashes, sleep disorders, depression, and mood changes. Most of the symptoms associated with menopause are directly due to the decrease in production of two key hormones, progesterone and estrogen.
These symptoms typically are most distressing in the period of years just before and following the menopause event. This period is referred to as perimenopause.
Menopause occurs when the ovaries, which produce progesterone and estrogen, begin to decrease production of the hormones. The normal menstrual cycle which relies on the level of these hormones stops and eggs are no longer released from the ovary.
Menopause typically occurs naturally in North America at an average of 52 years of age. Menopause may also occur for reasons which affect the function of the ovaries (i.e. chemotherapy), as well as following surgical removal of the ovaries.
- normal menstrual cycle stops
- hot flashes
- mood changes
- night sweats
- heart palpitations
- inability to concentrate
- weight gain
- pins and needles sensations
- pain during sexual intercourse
- shrinking of genitals
- decrease in sex drive
- burning during urination
- increased frequency of urinary tract infections
- incontinence (mild to severe)
Diagnosis is typically through physical examination and observation of the characteristic symptoms. Blood testing of hormone levels can help confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment is typically aimed at the relief of symptoms. There is no ‘cure’ for a natural biological process such as menopause. Diet regimen and exercise are typically recommended to reduce many symptoms.
Hormone therapy is also aimed at relieving symptoms. However, it has been determined that hormone therapy is not suitable for all women and may have long-term health risks. Other hormone replacement drugs and therapies are also available.