Menopause is when women stop getting their period. Some people call it “the change.” Menopause is different for each woman, but most women reach menopause around age 50.
As you get closer to menopause, your ovaries make less and less of female hormones called estrogen (“ES-tra-jin”) and progesterone (“pro-JES-ter-own”). Eventually, your ovaries stop making these hormones completely.
Symptoms of menopause can include:
- Irregular bleeding (more or less often than usual)
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Trouble sleeping
- More or less interest in sex
- Vaginal dryness
It can take 2 to 8 years to go through menopause. Menopause is finished when you haven’t had a period in 12 months. Once you’ve finished menopause, you won’t be able to get pregnant.
What do I ask the doctor?
Visiting the doctor can be stressful. It helps to have questions written down ahead of time. Print this list of questions and take it with you to your next appointment.
- How do I know if I’m going through menopause?
- How do I know if the changes in my period are from menopause or a sign of a problem?
- What other changes can I expect?
- Is there something I can do to control hot flashes?
- Are there changes I can make to my diet and physical activity to stay healthy during menopause?
- What is hormone therapy, and is it a good idea for me?
- Are there alternative therapies, like herbal supplements, that might help my symptoms?
- What other steps can I take to be more comfortable?
- When can I stop using birth control?
- What can I do to stay healthy as I get older? For example, how can I reduce my risk for osteoporosis (weak bones) and heart disease?