Menopause begins naturally with a cycle called perimenopause, which means around menopause. This begins to occur when the ovaries produce less estrogen and menstrual cycles begin to be irregular. Menopause can also be experienced as the result of a hysterectomy that removes the ovaries, certain cancer treatments or ovarian insufficiencies
Perimenopausal or menopausal changes are typically accompanied by what is known as a hot flash. Though harmless, hot flashes can be uncomfortable and produce feelings of extreme warmness in the face or neck and can be accompanied with sweating.
Changes in the female reproductive system occur during and before menopause. The ovaries produce less and less estrogen until ovulation eventually ceases. The lining of the uterus no longer thickens in order to produce a menstrual cycle. Secretions which usually keep the vaginal area moist are less abundant, which can result in irritation with sex, burning or itching.
Other changes in the body take place as well. The urethra may become dry, resulting in an increased urge to urinate and increased bladder infections from irritation. Bone density decreases, raising a woman’s risk for osteoporosis or bone fracture. A loss of breast tissue can occur, as well as thinning of the hair.
Changes in hormone levels can affect women in different ways. For some, this drop in estrogen can cause irritability and mood swings. Difficulty sleeping or insomnia may accompany these changes. Sex drive may be affected, as well as the ability or ease in which orgasm is achieved.
OB/GYNs are able to help you manage the effects menopause can have. We can treat symptoms with things such as hormone therapy or other medications and can recommend other products, supplements or techniques to reduce the effects menopause can have.
No matter where you are in the stages of menopause or perimenopause, our physicians are here to help. The treatments which you chose to undergo will be your choice to make, and only after all the risks and benefits have been explained to you.
Because of the continuous changes that occur in menopause, treatments may have to be adjusted. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have.