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Here's How to Know if You're in Menopause

Menopause is a natural transition that every woman experiences at a certain age. It marks the end of your fertile years and the beginning of a new stage in life, and it also comes with lots of physical and emotional changes.

Recognizing the signs of menopause can help you understand what’s going on so you can start managing your symptoms effectively. But every woman experiences menopause at different times and in different ways, which can make identifying it much more difficult.

Board-certified OB/GYN A. Michael Coppa, MD, and our team specialize in comprehensive menopause care. We’re here to give you the care you need at every stage in life. Here’s how to know if you’re in menopause and what to do about it.

Identifying perimenopause and menopause

Menopause is the result of gradual hormonal changes, which means signs and symptoms develop slowly. In fact, menopause is officially diagnosed when you’ve gone without a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months.

Perimenopause happens before menopause, and it lasts about four years on average. Symptoms of menopause often start during perimenopause, and include:

Irregular periods

As menopause approaches, your menstrual cycles change. Cycles may get shorter or longer, and periods may become lighter or heavier. Eventually, your periods stop altogether and menopause begins.

Hot flashes and night sweats

Hormonal changes during perimenopause and menopause often trigger sudden and intense feelings of heat. These sensations can drench you in sweat, and they can disrupt sleep and daily activities.

Vaginal dryness

Declining estrogen levels can lead to vaginal dryness and other symptoms of sexual dysfunction. You might notice increased vaginal discomfort, itching, or pain during intercourse.

Mood changes

Hormonal fluctuations during perimenopause and menopause can contribute to mood swings. You might feel more irritable than usual or even develop anxiety or depression.

Sleep disturbances

Menopause-related symptoms, like night sweats and mood changes can disrupt sleep patterns. As you approach menopause, you might struggle with poor sleep quality, daytime sleepiness, or insomnia.

Your menopause management options

Although menopause is a natural process, the symptoms have the power to disrupt your life. If you’re bothered by menopause symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. We work with you to develop a management plan that helps you feel like yourself again.

Lifestyle changes

Making certain lifestyle changes is one of the best ways to relieve menopause symptoms and support your overall well-being as you get older.

Start by engaging in regular physical activity to alleviate symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep disturbances. Aim for at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise, like walking or biking, each week.

Reevaluate your diet, and eat a wide variety of meals rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Include foods that are high in calcium and vitamin D to support bone health.

Along with exercise, practice stress-reducing techniques to reduce the intensity of menopause symptoms. Activities like deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or engaging in your hobbies promote relaxation and bring joy.

Last but not least, improve sleep quality by creating a conducive sleep environment and establishing a consistent bedtime routine. Wear light, loose clothing to bed and avoid stimulants like caffeine and electronic devices before bed to promote better sleep.

Hormone therapy

Hormone therapy is an effective treatment option for managing more severe menopausal symptoms. If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, Dr. Coppa may recommend hormone therapy to rebalance your hormone levels and relieve your symptoms.

Hormone therapy uses estrogen and sometimes progesterone to supplement the declining hormone levels in your body. It can reduce hot flashes, as well as lower your risk of osteoporosis and fractures associated with loss of estrogen during menopause. 

Localized estrogen treatments can help alleviate vaginal dryness, itching, and discomfort to improve your sexual well-being.

Hormone therapy isn’t suitable for everyone. We consider your individual circumstances, medical history, and personal preferences before recommending the best treatment for you.

Not sure if the symptoms you’re experiencing are a sign of menopause? We’re here to help. Get answers and personalized treatment with Dr. Coppa in Cranston, Providence, and Smithfield, Rhode Island. Call the office nearest you or request an appointment online now.

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