Menopause occurs when your ovaries produce significantly less estrogen. This marks the end of your reproductive years, when ovulation (releasing eggs from your ovaries) caused high levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body. Now, with your ovaries producing only about 10 percent of your previous hormone levels, you’ll most likely notice symptoms. Your periods will stop and you’ll recognize other changes due to your hormone deficiency. And while the average age of menopause is age 51, this process is unique to each woman. You might begin in your early 40s or you may not notice symptoms until your late 50s.
Since levels of estrogen and progesterone decline gradually in a woman’s body, the onset of symptoms is also gradual. Perimenopause is the transition to full menopause. At the beginning, minor disturbances or mild hot flashes in the menstrual cycle may occur. The length of this process varies greatly. In fact, perimenopause may last many months or years.
Some women do not have symptoms or may only notice mild signs of menopause. For many, however, the symptoms can be severe. Some common signs and symptoms include:
A small amount of bone loss after age 35 is normal for both men and women. During the first four to eight years after menopause, however, women lose bone more rapidly due to their decreased levels of estrogen. If too much bone is lost, women are at risk for osteoporosis, which increases the risk of bone fracture.
The estrogen produced by women’s ovaries before menopause protects against heart attacks and stroke. With less estrogen after menopause, women lose much of this protection. Midlife also is a time when risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and being physically inactive, are more common. These combined factors increase the risk of heart attack and stroke in menopausal women.
Dr Lee has the experience and understanding to explain the process for each woman.
…And don’t worry. We won’t limit the number of medical issues you can bring for evaluation at your appointment.