Menopause is defined as the permanent cessation of menstruation and is diagnosed after 12 consecutive months of no menses. It is a normal process marked by a decline in ovarian function resulting in decreasing levels of estrogen and progesterone. The average age of menopause is 53. Menopause occurring before age 40 is considered premature and may require further investigation.
Perimenopause usually begins a few years before the last menstrual cycle and is associated with signs and symptoms like hot flashes (sensation of sudden heat spreading from the chest to the neck and face), night sweats, headache, vaginal itching or burning, emotional changes, and sleeping difficulties. Diagnosis is made by the patient’s age and symptoms.
Smoking is linked to a decline in estrogen, and women who smoke enter menopause on average about two years earlier than nonsmokers. Lifestyle modifications like smoking cessation, exercise, and reducing stress may improve symptoms.
Hormone replacement therapy may be another treatment option. The physicians at Advanced OB/GYN would be happy to discuss the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy.