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Transitioning to Menopause

Becoming menopausal is not a sudden switch but a gradual transition with three phases:

  • Perimenopause
  • Menopause
  • Postmenopause

Perimenopause begins before your menstrual cycle stops permanently. Your hormone levels begin to change, and you may experience periods of different lengths and flows. The time between your periods may change, too. This phase can begin as early as 40 but commonly begins around age 47.

You officially reach menopause once you’ve gone a full year since your last period. During those 12 months, you’ll have no bleeding or spotting. This occurs, on average, around age 51.

Once you’ve been through menopause, you enter a phase called postmenopause. Your hormone levels remain low since you are no longer producing estrogen, and you are no longer able to get pregnant.

Symptoms of Menopause

Everyone experiences menopause a little differently. You may experience only mild symptoms, or your symptoms may be more intense. Your provider can help you manage your everyday symptoms in a way that works for you.

Menopause has a wide array of symptoms in addition to irregular periods, including:

  • Hot flashes
  • Sleep problems
  • Vaginal and bladder problems
  • Mood changes
  • Body changes such as weight gain and joint aches
  • Hair thinning

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your provider. There are tests and exams we may perform, such as a pelvic exam or thyroid testing, which can help us determine what is going on. Your provider can answer any questions you have about your symptoms or about menopause in general.

Menopausal Care Options

Menopausal symptoms can be managed with lifestyle changes and certain medications. Your provider will review all your options and craft a treatment plan based on your needs, symptoms, and lifestyle.

Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) is one option used to reduce the symptoms of menopause. MHT provides you with the two hormones that your ovaries once produced: estrogen and progesterone.  Your physician can help determine the treatment that is best for you.

If you’re not interested in MHT, there are other options, including medications that focus on relieving certain symptoms. Vaginal moisturizers and lubricants are available to help reduce vaginal dryness and do not contain any hormones. Some find herbal supplements like soy and black cohosh to be effective in managing symptoms. The right treatment for you will depend on your medical history and medications.

Discuss Menopausal Care with Your Provider

If you’re experiencing any of the stages of menopause, you can find care with a provider at UWH of Michigan. Our providers will help you adjust to the next stage of your life and provide support to manage any symptoms you may be experiencing. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.