7 things every woman should know about menopause

Menopause happens to all women eventually. Sure, you’ve probably heard about the hot flashes and mood swings, but there’s a lot more to menopause that you should know.

So here are seven things every woman should know about menopause:

1. What is menopause?

Menopause is when a woman’s ovaries stop producing reproductive hormones, which typically happens when a woman is in her 40s or 50s. It occurs 12 months after a woman’s last menstruation. The average age for menopause in the United States is 51, according the the Mayo Clinic.

2. What are the symptoms of menopause?

Perimenopause is the name for the months or years leading to menopause. Some signs and symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic, include: Irregular periods, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, night sweats, sleep problems, mood changes, weight gain, slowed metabolism, thinning hair, dry skin and loss of breast fullness. Skipping periods is common. During perimenopause, menstrual periods may occur every 2-4 months. 

3. What causes menopause?

Menopause is a natural occurrence in women. It occurs as a natural decline in a woman’s reproductive hormones, but it can have other early triggers. Hysterectomy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and primary ovarian insufficiency have been linked to menopause, according to the Mayo Clinic.

4. When should you see a doctor about menopause?

The Mayo Clinic recommends women start scheduling regular visits with their physician starting in perimenopause and continuing during and after menopause.

5. Is there a treatment for menopause?

Menopause itself does not require any treatment, but physicians may prescribe therapies to help with its symptoms. Hormone therapy, vaginal estrogen, low-dose antidepressants, Gabapentin, and osteoporosis medications are common treatments for menopausal symptoms, according to Mayo Clinic. 

6. How should you prepare for a doctor’s appointment to discuss menopause?

Prepare for your doctor’s appointment by keeping a log of your symptoms, making a list of all your current medications and preparing a list of questions for your doctor. The Mayo Clinic also recommends bringing a family member or friend with you, if possible, and bringing a notepad.

7. What questions should you expect from your doctor?

Your physician will most likely ask if you’re still having periods, when was your last period, how often do you experience symptoms, how problematic are your symptoms for you, and if there is anything that betters or worsens your symptoms, says Mayo Clinic.