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?
- 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