Menopause Guide in McLean, Virginia
Menopause is defined as a point in a woman’s life when she stops menstruating, and it signifies the end of her reproductive years.
After the age of 40, menopause is considered to be a normal part of aging. If it occurs prior, it is referred to as premature menopause.
Continue reading to learn the causes, stages, and symptoms of menopause and what patients can expect as they experience hormonal changes.
What Causes Menopause?
In order to understand the cause of menopause, it’s important to discuss the underlying physiology. Females are born with a certain number of eggs that are stored in the ovaries.
The ovaries also make hormones estrogen and progesterone, which regulate a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle and ovulation.
When menopause occurs, estrogen and progesterone levels drop dramatically, and ovaries cease to release an egg every month.
How Does Menopause Happen?
Normal menopause progresses gradually and happens in three distinct stages.
Perimenopause is the first stage and includes the years before menopause. During this time, estrogen production gradually declines. As women approach menopause, they will begin experiencing menopausal symptoms like hot flashes.
A woman is said to be in menopause when she hasn’t had a menstrual period for one year. At this point, the ovaries generate very little estrogen.
Postmenopause refers to the years after menopause, and this stage brings some symptom relief. However, because of decreased estrogen, women are at greater risk for health issues as they get older.
What Are Symptoms of Menopause?
The most common symptom of menopause is hot flashes, which present as an unexpected sensation of warmth that encompasses the upper body and may be accompanied by blushing and sweating.
Other menopause symptoms may include: Insomnia, irritability, fatigue, mood swings, changes in libido (sex drive), vaginal dryness, depression, headaches, and irregular or skipped periods
Learn More About Menopause
If you would like to learn more about menopause, please call our office today to schedule a consultation with board-certified gynecologist Dr. Melinda Hall.