Our caring, experienced doctors discuss the effects of menopause
Menopause occurs when a woman’s menstrual periods end. This is a natural process that occurs when the ovaries stop producing estrogen, the hormone that controls menstruation. The average American woman experiences it at age 51, but the process occurs naturally for some women in their 40s or after age 51. Other women can experience this change earlier.
Menopause is preceded by a period called perimenopause
In the years before menopause, the ovaries begin to produce fluctuating amounts of estrogen, usually when women are in their 30s and 40s, causing signs of perimenopause. Here are several symptoms women may notice during the years before their periods stop completely.
- Changes in the menstrual cycle, including irregular or skipped periods
- Lighter or heavier periods
- Hot flashes that may be brief or last for several minutes
- Night sweats that lead to insomnia
- Sleep problems
- Vaginal dryness as estrogen levels decrease
- More frequent urinary tract infections
Patients need to be aware of certain health risks
At this stage in life, preventive care is more important than ever. When women’s estrogen levels decline sharply, they have an increased risk of certain health problems. At Athens ObGyn, our doctors have the experience to help women manage these risks and stay healthy.
- Osteoporosis. When estrogen levels decline, women experience bone loss, which can lead to osteoporosis. Women can have a bone density scan at Athens ObGyn to check for bone loss.
- Sexual problems. During perimenopause and menopause, women may experience pain and dryness during intercourse. They may also experience a lack of sexual desire.
- Cardiovascular disease. Estrogen provides some protection against strokes and heart attacks. When it decreases, the risk of heart disease increases. Our doctors educate patients about diet, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight as part of a heart-healthy lifestyle.
- Urinary incontinence. The lining of the urethra, the tube that brings urine from the bladder to the outside of the body, becomes thinner as estrogen decreases. The pelvic muscles also weaken with age. These changes can lead to problems with incontinence, the experience of urine leaking. Our doctors know how to treat this problem to help patients feel better.
Patients do not have to suffer from these age-related changes. The doctors at Athens ObGyn can help patients navigate this natural time of life in a woman’s reproductive cycle. For more information, contact us.