In the years leading up to menopause, many women begin to feel the symptoms of hormonal change. As the ovaries’ production of estrogen and progesterone starts to decline, the body’s feedback mechanism attempts to increase their production, leading to ongoing fluctuation that can have both physical and emotional repercussions.
As you enter midlife—usually somewhere between 45 and 55—your ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone, and your menstrual cycle ends. Menopause is confirmed when periods have been absent for 12 months. As many as 75-80% of women experience symptoms during this normal hormonal transition. These may include:
- Hot flashes, night sweats, irregular heartbeat
- Vaginal dryness, loss of libido, pain with sex, incontinence
- Mood swings, irritability
- Headaches, brain fog, fatigue
The same symptoms are often reported by women during perimenopause.
In some cases, menopause isn’t the result of the normal aging process. Surgical removal of the ovaries, chemotherapy, premature ovarian insufficiency, and other medical treatments or health conditions that trigger menopause before it would occur naturally are associated with more intense symptoms and increase certain health risks, including osteoporosis.
Whether menopause occurs naturally, as the result of hormonal health conditions, or a side effect of surgery or other medical treatments, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) provides an effective treatment option for women troubled by disruptive symptoms. In fact, HRT is routinely recommended for women who experience menopause at an early age to mitigate health risks.