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Menopause

Menopause occurs when a woman no longer has menstrual periods. Women reach menopause after not having their periods for a year. Women may experience menopause symptoms (such as hot flashes) before that time.

Menopause: what you should know

  • Years before menopause, you may experience longer or shorter periods, hot flashes and mood changes, or no changes at all. This transition time is called perimenopause.
  • You may reach menopause as early as age 40 or as late as 55; the average age is 51. Menopause happens when your ovaries stop making the hormones estrogen and protesterone.
  • You can still get pregnant during perimenopause, which typically lasts between two and eight years. But you can’t get pregnant naturally after you reach menopause.
  • Most times menopause occurs on its own, but sometimes it can happen because of surgery, such as a hysterectomy, or medicines.
  • Hormone changes related to menopause put you at greater risk for heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis. So it’s important to exercise and stop smoking.

How can I get help for menopause symptoms?

Talk to your primary care or OB-GYN doctor if you have the following:

  • Periods that are unusually heavy or light or are longer or shorter than usual
  • Vaginal dryness or urinary problems, such as urinary tract infections
  • Painful intercourse (dyspareunia)
  • Mood swings that cause problems in your relationships or work
  • Sexual problems
  • A smoking habit you want to quit
  • A desire to eat healthier and exercise more

Care for menopause at Rush

Doctors tailor care around the nature of your symptoms and your preferences. For example, some women experiencing vaginal dryness may benefit from over-the-counter lubricants. For others, hormone replacement therapy might be appropriate.

Because menopause can affect your heart and bone health, your primary care doctor or OB-GYN might recommend further attention from a specialist at Rush. These include cardiologists and orthopedic specialists, who may prescribe medicines or lifestyle changes, such adjusting your diet or doing bone strengthening exercises.

Why choose Rush for menopause care

  • OB-GYNs at Rush support and treat women as they transition through hormonal changes and menopause. They are closely connected to specialists at Rush, including doctors caring for women with osteoporosis and heart disease.
  • Researchers at Rush conduct studies to help improve a woman’s quality of life throughout her lifespan. This includes the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), which evaluates how mid-life experiences affect health.
  • If you’re having trouble managing your emotions, the Center for Women's Behavioral and Mental Health at Rush can help. It provides psychological evaluation and treatment of mood changes that occur with menopause.
  • The Rush University Prevention Center applies the latest research in women’s health to offer a comprehensive lifestyle program. This treatment approach helps women navigate health issues related to hormone changes and menopause.
  • Staff at the Rush Heart Center for Women understand the changes women undergo during menopause and their effects on heart health. They specialize in caring for women with family histories of heart problems and women who have had heart attacks.

Departments and programs that treat this condition