Menopause and Menopause Transition — St. Mark’s Center for Women’s Health

Menopause and Menopause Transition — St. Mark’s Center for Women’s Health


(bright music) – Well, menopause is actually defined as it’s been 12 months without a period and you’re the appropriate age, which is about 45 to late 50s. So you really don’t
know you’re in menopause until 12 months after your last period. There is something called
menopause transition, is what it’s now called, it used to be called perimenopause. And that starts two to three
years before your periods quit and what usually starts happening is people start having some variation in when their periods occur. They may be a little early
or a little bit late. And eventually, they’ll
start skipping periods, which is usually one or two years before periods completely quit. So women tend to be really
frightened of menopause. They hear all these horrible stories about women who greatly
suffer through that time. It turns out that about 75% of us will have some hot flushes or night sweats but the majority of women
don’t suffer with them. The majority of women notice them and it doesn’t affect anything in their life except to notice them. It’s really only 15 to 25%
of women who suffer enough that they seek help from
a healthcare provider. I always like to think first
about nonmedical things. The most important things are,
if you smoke, quit smoking. Exercise is a really big help. It also helps sleep,
which helps us just sleep through some of our night symptoms. There are also a lot of
meditative or relaxation practices which make a big difference for symptoms. And so things like yoga,
meditation, massage. They’re all great anyway
but they really do, there are great studies, they really do help these symptoms. One of the best ways to
control hot flushes is, when you feel one coming on, is to actually stop and do deep breathing or some kind of relaxation. So basically, as you start
to feel a flush coming on, just taking really big breaths and actually breathing all the way down into your abdomen and filling your abdomen and doing three really
slow breaths like that, blowing them all the way out, will often stop a hot flush
or at least shorten it and make it less severe. We know that most of the risks of hormones actually come after about
10 years post menopause, so these days, when you
start the hormones actually at menopause specifically for symptoms, the majority of women don’t have significant increase in risk. It’s certainly a discussion to have with your healthcare provider because there are women who
should not take hormones and there are a lot of
non-hormonal things we can do for flushes and other
symptoms of menopause. But I wouldn’t completely rule it out if you really are affected
horribly by your symptoms. The most common condition
would be vaginal dryness, which is really bothersome
for at least 80% of women, and very easily treated. And you should get help for
that if you’re having it. Other things include changes in our hair. A lot of women notice
changes in losing hair, which is highly genetic. And also a lot of us start getting more dark,
coarse facial hair, like men would have,
which is called hirsutism, which is really common and
again, can be treatable. So the most important things
are to remain healthy. Stop smoking, if you smoke. Eat really healthy foods
in healthy amounts.

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