Menopause is the time in your life when you naturally stop having periods. By definition, you’ve reached menopause when you haven’t had a period for one year. Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s, but the average age for the onset of menopause in the United States is 51.
Menopause occurs because your ovaries stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone. During the years leading up to menopause, beginning in your 30s or 40s — a period called perimenopause — the amount of these hormones fluctuates, and this can cause a variety of symptoms. For every woman, the symptoms are different, but the most common ones include:
It’s common to skip periods during perimenopause, or to skip a month or several months and then return to monthly cycles. Menstruation cycles also tend to be shorter during perimenopause.
The estrogen that your body produces before menopause protects you from certain medical conditions. That, plus the increased risks that come naturally in midlife, makes you more susceptible to certain diseases and medical conditions, including:
For some of these conditions, maintaining a healthy diet and regularly exercising can help lower your risk; however, for others, you may benefit greatly from treatments such as hormone replacement therapy.
Hormone replacement therapy treats common symptoms of menopause by replacing your body’s estrogen and progesterone. It can help with hot flashes, as well as with urinary incontinence and vaginal dryness. Hormone replacement therapy may also protect against osteoporosis.
Long-term use of hormone replacement therapy may have some cardiovascular and breast cancer risks; however, starting hormones around the time of menopause has shown significant benefits for some women. Dr. Brodnik can talk you through the advantages and risks of hormone therapy and determine whether it's a good choice for you.
If you’re experiencing perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms, Dr. Brodnik at Bluefield Women’s Center offers a variety of treatments that can help. Call the office or book an appointment online to get started.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!