Menopause is when women stop getting their period. It’s also called “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 female hormones, called estrogen (“ES-tra-jin”) and progesterone (“pro-JES-ter-own”). Eventually, your ovaries stop making them completely. Symptoms of menopause can include:
- Irregular bleeding (more or less often than usual)
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Trouble sleeping
- Decreased interest in sex (decreased libido)
- Vaginal dryness
It can take 3 to 5 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 before your appointment. Print out this list of questions, and take it with you the next time you visit the doctor.
- How do I know if I’m going through menopause?
- How do I know if the changes in my bleeding are from menopause or a sign of a problem?
- What other changes will I go through?
- 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?
- Is hormone therapy a good idea for me?
- Are there alternative therapies, like herbal supplements, that might help with 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 and heart disease?