Menopause is a natural biological process that signals the end of a woman's fertility. This change typically occurs in your 40s or 50s, with the average age of menopause in America being about 51 years. Although women who have gone through menopause can no longer bear children, this natural change doesn't affect a woman's sexuality.
For most women, the process of menopause usually lasts about two years. Because every woman's body is unique, some women may experience little physical effects while other women experience moderate to severe symptoms as their bodies change.
Some of the more common symptoms of menopause include:
- Change in menstrual frequency
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
Perimenopause is the first stage in the menopause process. It can begin eight to 10 years before menopause. To learn more about the hormonal changes women face in their late 30s and 40s and how to manage them, listen to this episode of the Best of Both Worlds podcast, which features Dr. Erdman.
Treating Menopausal Symptoms
While the physical symptoms of menopause last only a short period of time, they can interfere with a woman's quality of life. Talk to your gynecologist about treatment options, including hormone replacement therapy to mitigate the decrease in your body's estrogen levels. This treatment is not for everyone and your physician will determine if this therapy is right for you. Maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle is important to managing the symptoms of menopause and maintaining good health for the future.
A comprehensive resource for all things related to menopause is www.menopause.org, the North American Menopause Society website.