The following describes methods for treating menopause. For specific information regarding your health and treatment options, please contact your Hurley physician or medical professional.
What is menopause?
Menopause occurs when a woman’s ovaries stop ripening and releasing ova (human eggs) and the hormones that cause both the creation of the uterine lining and the subsequent shedding of it (menses, monthly menstruation or a period).
What causes menopause?
Menopause is caused by many factors, including:
Natural decline of reproductive hormones:As you approach your late 30s, your ovaries start making less estrogen and progesterone, the hormones that regulate menstruation (your monthly period). Fewer eggs will ripen in your ovaries each month, and ovulation becomes less predictable. Also, the post-ovulation surge in progesterone (the hormone that prepares your body for pregnancy) becomes less.
These changes become more pronounced in your 40s. Your periods may become longer or shorter, heavier or lighter, and more or less frequent, until eventually, your ovaries stop producing eggs altogether. At this point, your periods will stop.
Hysterectomy: A hysterectomy that removes your uterus, but not your ovaries, usually does not cause menopause. Although you no longer have periods, your ovaries still release eggs and produce estrogen and progesterone. However, surgery that removes both your uterus and your ovaries (total hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy) does cause menopause, without any transitional phase. Your periods stop immediately, and you are likely to have hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy: These cancer therapies can bring about menopause, causing symptoms such as hot flashes during the course of treatment or within 3 to 6 months.
- Primary ovarian insufficiency: Approximately 1% of women experience menopause before age 40. This may result from primary ovarian insufficiency (when the ovaries fail to produce normal levels of reproductive hormones) which stems from genetic factors or autoimmune disease. Often no cause for primary ovarian insufficiency can be found.
What are the stages of menopause?
Because your body’s transition to menopause occurs over months and years, menopause is commonly divided into two stages:
Perimenopause: During this stage, you begin experiencing menopausal signs and symptoms, even though you still have a monthly period. Your hormone levels rise and fall unevenly, and you may have hot flashes and other symptoms. Perimenopause may last 4 to 5 years or longer. During this time, it is still possible to get pregnant, but is unlikely.
- Postmenopause: Once 12 months have passed since your last period, you have entered menopause. Your ovaries produce much less estrogen and no progesterone, and they no longer release eggs. The years that follow the end of your period are called postmenopause.
When will I begin menopause?
Menopause typically (but not always) occurs in women in midlife, during their late 40s or early 50s, and signals the end of the fertile phase of a woman's life. The change from a reproductive to a non-reproductive state tends to occur over a period of years, and is a natural consequence of aging. However, for some women, the accompanying physical changes that can occur during the menopause transition years can make their lives difficult.
Women who have a functional disorder affecting the reproductive system (endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, or cancer of the reproductive organs) can enter menopause at a younger age than normal. The disorders often speed up the menopausal process and create more significant health problems, both physical and emotional.
Women who have their uterus removed (hysterectomy) but retain their ovaries do not immediately go into menopause, even though their periods cease. Adult women who have their ovaries removed go immediately into surgical menopause, no matter how young they are.
What are the treatements for menopause?
At Hurley Women’s Clinic, we believe there is no reason for women to suffer from these menopausal symptoms and offer them hormonal and non-hormonal treatment approved by ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists).
What is bone densitometry?
Bone densitometry, also called bone density scanning or dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), is a type of x-ray used to measure bone loss. The procedure is performed in Hurley Medical Center’s nuclear medicine department, is painless and non-invasive, and involves minimal radiation exposure. Bone densitometry is most often performed on the lower spine and hips. In children and some adults, the whole body is sometimes scanned. Secondary devices that use x-ray or ultrasound can also be used to screen for low bone mass.
Bone mineral density (or BMD) is used as an indicator of osteoporosis and fracture risk. Bone density measurements are used to screen women for osteoporosis risk and to identify those who might benefit from treatments to improve bone strength.