Menopause (MEN-oh-pawz) is a normal stage in a woman's life when her monthly period stops. It is also called the "change of life." A woman who has no periods for an entire year after the age of 45 is considered to be in menopause. After menopause, a woman is no longer fertile (able to become pregnant naturally). Going through menopause may take one to two years. Perimenopause (PER-i-men-oh-pawz) is the period of time leading up to menopause. Perimenopause can last from two to eight years. You can have many menopause-like symptoms during perimenopause. These symptoms, such as hot flashes, can be very bothersome for some women.
Causes Menopause starts when your ovaries (OH-var-ees) slowly stop making the female hormones estrogen (ES-troh-jen) and progesterone (proh-JES-te-rohn). Hormones are special chemicals that your body makes. Hormones act as messengers to help control how your body works. The hormones estrogen and progesterone help control your monthly periods. Menopause usually starts between the ages of 40 to 55. The average age that menopause starts is 51 years old. The age that menopause starts can be affected by:
Signs and Symptoms : The signs and symptoms of menopause can be different from woman to woman. The loss of female hormones may also cause other changes in your body. These changes and symptoms may include one or more of the following:
Wellness Recommendations :
Medical Care : There are other helpful treatments to treat your menopausal symptoms and to decrease the risk of other diseases.
HOW TO TREAT YOUR SYMPTOMS :
Decrease your salt and sugar intake and avoid caffeine. Eating more soy products (tofu, tempeh, soy cheese, soy milk, and soy burgers) will also help. Eat foods that are high in calcium, such as milk and dairy products, nuts, seafood, and green leafy vegetables. Your doctor may suggest that you take a daily calcium pill. Avoid foods and drinks that may trigger hot flashes, like alcohol, coffee, tea, or spicy foods.
Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.
Ayurvedic medicine (a system of healing from India), herbalism, homeopathy, and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine which includes acupuncture and herbs) have all been used to treat menopause symptoms.
Recommended Screening Tests/Exams : Menopausal women should have regular check ups that include blood pressure screening, a Pap smear (test for cervical cancer), and mammogram (test for breast cancer). Blood may also be taken from an arm to check blood sugar and cholesterol. A bone densitometry (test for osteoporosis) and sigmoidoscopy (test for colon cancer) may also be done.
Other ways of treating your symptom s: Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.
Talk to your caregiver if:
S EEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care will be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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