Menopause is a natural biological process; it is the time that marks the end of your menstrual periods due to lower hormone levels. This usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55 but can sometimes occur naturally or for reasons such as hysterectomy, oophorectomy, cancer treatments like chemotherapy, or genetic reasons. While menopause Lake Mary is a natural process, it often causes bothersome symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, chills, and mood changes. Fortunately, many effective treatments are available, from lifestyle adjustments to hormone therapy.
What causes menopause?
The natural decline of reproductive hormones
Usually, the ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone hormones – these are natural chemicals that regulate menstruation. However, as you approach your late 30s, your ovaries make less of these hormones, and your fertility declines. During your 40s, you experience menstrual period changes – the length of your periods may increase or shorten, and bleeding may become lighter or heavier. You may also notice that your menstrual periods are more or less frequent until you eventually have no more periods. The average age whereby women have no menstrual periods is 51, but this can occur earlier.
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can induce menopause, causing symptoms like chill and night sweats during or after treatment. Although periods may stop and fertility may be affected, this is usually temporary. Therefore if you do not plan to get pregnant, you may want to use birth control measures. The ovarian function may be affected if radiation energy is directed at the ovaries during radiotherapy. But if radiation treatment to other body parts like the head, neck, or breast tissue doesn’t cause menopause.
Oophorectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the ovaries; this causes immediate menopause. Your ovaries produce reproductive hormones such as progesterone and estrogen that regulate your menstrual cycle. When you undergo surgery to remove menopause, you immediately won’t get your periods, and you are likely to have hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. The signs and symptoms may be severe since your hormonal changes occur suddenly rather than gradually over time. Hysterectomy – surgery to remove your uterus doesn’t cause immediate menopause since your ovaries still release eggs and produce reproductive hormones even if you no longer have periods.
Primary ovarian insufficiency
While menopause typically kicks in around age 40, about 1% of women experience menopause earlier (premature menopause). Usually, this occurs when your ovaries fail to produce normal levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones. Failure of your ovaries to produce normal levels of reproductive hormones may stem from autoimmune diseases or genetic factors. Most of the time, the cause of premature menopause is unknown. Most women whose menopause stems from primary ovarian insufficiency can benefit from hormone therapy. Treatment is recommended at least until the natural menopause age to protect the bones, brain, and heart.
Regular doctor visits with the doctor are essential during and after menopause. These visits are for preventive health care and any other medical concerns. During these visits, your doctor may recommend health screening tests like mammography, colonoscopy, thyroid testing, and triglyceride screening.
For any further inquiries about menopause, consult your doctor at Christopher K Quinsey, MD.