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Mastering Menopause

The Phases of Menopause

Perimenopause - This is the time leading up to menopause when your body begins producing less of hormones like estrogen and progesterone. Symptoms may begin as early as 35, but often begin between 45 and 55.

Menopause - Your period stops and perimenopause symptoms may increase. Menopause is defined as 12 consecutive months without a period (with no other causes, such as pregnancy)

Post-menopause - Most of the menopausal changes have faded. Hot flashes may seem milder or less frequent; energy and emotional levels may seem to have stabilized. Bone loss and estrogen loss are areas of concern.

The signs and symptoms of menopause can affect each woman differently. Here are some of the more common signs that may indicate that you are in the beginning stages of menopause:

  • Irregular periods
  • Hot flashes (or flushes)
  • Trouble sleeping – Night sweats or trouble staying asleep through the night
  • Mood changes – mood swings or emotional outbursts
  • Changing feelings about intimacy
  • Forgetfulness or trouble focusing
  • Losing muscle, gaining fat, and having a larger waist
  • Feeling stiff or achy

When it comes to treatment, it's important to focus on two goals: management of symptoms and prevention of long-term symptoms. Since a woman can spend 1/3 of her life in the phases of menopause, working closely with your physician will ensure that the correct course of action can be determined.

Women in post-menopause may be at higher risk for bone loss and osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer. Regular check-up and health screenings will help identify your individual risks.

This article first appeared in the June 2014 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.

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