Discover why menopause occurs as well as the symptoms and treatments associated with it.

What is Menopause?

Menopause is the life stage when the menstrual cycle ends after the ovaries stop functioning and pregnancy is no longer possible. Menopause occurs 12 months after a woman has her last period.

As menopause approaches, the ovaries stop releasing eggs into the fallopian tubes and stop producing as much of the female hormones, estrogen, and progesterone. Those hormones control menstruation, maintain cholesterol levels, and affect the body’s use of calcium. This and other symptoms result in many changes to a woman’s overall well-being.

Some women experience menopause as early as their 40s, but other in their 60s. However, the end of estrogen production or damage to the ovaries can cause menopause earlier in life. Such cases can include:

  • Smoking
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Removal of the ovaries

The time surrounding menopause is sometimes referred to as perimenopause. For discussions of symptoms after menopause occurs, the term postmenopausal is used.

Symptoms of Menopause

Symptoms are unique to each woman, but they can include:

  • Abnormal periods
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Interrupted sleep patterns, fatigue
  • Hot flashes, night sweats
  • Incontinence
  • Memory trouble
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Headaches
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain

Osteoporosis and heart disease are complications that can occur postmenopause. The decreased levels of estrogen in the body also influence postmenopausal diminishing of the bone or osteoporosis.

Treatment of Menopause

While the symptoms of menopause and peri/postmenopause may not be completely resolved, they can be treated.

Treatment options for abnormal periods can include:

  • Low-dose birth control pills
  • Hormone replacement therapy

Options for vaginal dryness:

  • Over-the-counter vaginal lubricants

Options for hot flashes:

  • Keeping the work and home cooler
  • Dressing in layers and loose clothing
  • Deep-breathing exercises

Options for osteoporosis (post-menopause)

  • Hormone replacement therapy

If you are experiencing any of these menopause symptoms or would like to be treated, contact your neighborhood Texas Health Care Obstetrics & Gynecology clinic in DFW.