Answers to Your Most Common Menopause Questions
What Is Menopause?
Menopause officially occurs a year after a woman's last menstrual period and marks the end of fertility. It is not a disease or disorder. It is a naturally occurring process that every woman experiences.
As you get older, your ovaries gradually decrease production of estrogen and other hormones. These hormonal changes cause many of the undesirable effects of menopause, such as hot flashes and weight gain.
To learn more, read our menopause overview.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Menopause?
As you approach menopause, estrogen levels fluctuate. Some days they spike; other days, they may be low. This is what causes the common signs and symptoms associated with menopause, such as:
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Sleep problems
- Mood swings
- Increased fat around the abdomen
To learn more, please read our article on menopause symptoms.
What Causes Menopause?
In most cases, menopause is a result of the natural aging process, but it has other causes. Certain surgical procedures, cancer treatments, and rare ovarian conditions can also trigger it.
To get more details on this, please read our article on the menopause causes.
How Is Menopause Confirmed?
Most women are aware when menopause is approaching—even without a doctor's diagnosis. This is because menopause has very obvious signs and symptoms.
However, there are tests that can confirm menopause if you're unsure. Your doctor may test your follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen levels. These blood tests are useful for determining menopause because FSH levels rise and estrogen levels fall during menopause.
To learn more, read our article about how menopause is confirmed.
What Are the Complications of Menopause?
The complications below are associated with menopause, though menopause isn't often the sole cause. Normal aging also increases your risk of developing these medical problems.
- Heart disease
- Urinary problems
- Weight gain
To learn more, read our article about menopause complications.
How Is Menopause Treated?
There are a number of medications available to treat the symptoms of menopause. To learn about them, read our article about drugs and medications for menopause. It describes treatments for the three most common symptoms: hot flashes, bone loss, and vaginal dryness.
If you're a proponent of alternative therapies, or if your symptoms are mild and don't warrant mainstream drugs, alternative medicine is an option. There are many natural treatments that may help ease your menopause transition, and you can read more about them in our article about alternative and natural treatments for menopause.
Finally, don't underestimate the power of healthy lifestyle habits. Exercise, a balanced diet, and not smoking all offer major benefits to women going through menopause. To learn more about how they will help ease your menopause transition, read our article on healthy menopause lifestyle habits.