August 14, 2019
Ask Rose is a popular feature on the Lancaster General Health website. Ask Rose gives women the opportunity to privately contact Lancaster General Health Certified Menopause Educator Rosemary C. Search, RN, BSN, with questions and concerns. Below are some of the more frequent questions Rose receives.
What is menopause?
Menopause is a natural biological change in a women’s life cycle, not a medical illness. It is the time in your life when you stop having your monthly menstrual period. It is not a disease.
What causes menopause?
Menopause begins naturally as women’s ovaries make fewer hormones. Eventually, the ovaries do not produce enough hormones and menstrual periods stop.
Induced menopause is when menstrual periods stop after surgical removal of the ovaries, chemotherapy or radiation damage to the ovaries, or the use of other medications that intentionally induce menopause as part of the treatment of certain diseases.
When does menopause happen naturally?
Every woman is different. Although many women start menopause around age 45, some start in their 50s, and a small number of women start in their 30s. Menopause does not happen all at once. For most women, symptoms tend to last anywhere from three to five years. Menopause is complete when a woman has not had a period for twelve months in a row.
How will I know I am going through menopause?
About a year or two before entering menopause, you will experience premenopausal symptoms that can include:
- Changes in periods - missed or more frequent periods; bleeding between periods; bleeding more or less than usual during your period
- Hot flashes – sudden and brief feelings of heat in the face and upper part of the body which can cause sweating
- Sleep disturbances
- Vaginal dryness - can cause itching and painful sex
- Mood changes
- Weight gain
- Aches in your bones
- Forgetfulness or trouble focusing
Women experience these symptoms at different intensities and rates, and are not likely to occur all at once. Symptoms usually happen sporadically and over some time.
Do I need to see my doctor?
It is important to see your doctor or health care provider regularly. He or she can help guide you through menopause and offer insight on how to manage any symptoms you experience.
Do I need treatment for menopause?
Many women will not need treatment, but it is important to understand that there are treatment options for some of the symptoms you experience during menopause. Talk with your doctor or health care provider and develop a plan of care that is best for you.
What can I do to feel better?
- Do not smoke
- Exercise regularly
- Stay cool during hot flashes
- Eat healthy
- Get plenty of sleep
- Take care of your bones by taking 1200-1500 mg of calcium and 400-800 IU of vitamin D
- Do Kegel exercises to improve bladder control
- Talk with your doctor or health care provider about comfort measures to relieve vaginal dryness
- Make time for yourself
- Talk to family and friends
- Learn new ways to relax
- Laugh a lot
- Get regular check-ups