Menopause is the end of the menstrual and fertility cycle in women. It can either occur naturally or as a result of surgical intervention that requires the removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes. This usually as a treatment for cancer or other health conditions like infections or cysts. The ovaries regulate the hormones that control the menstrual cycle and fertility. Once the menstrual cycle permanently ends, either naturally or through the surgical removal of the ovaries, a woman is in menopause. The process varies form woman to woman and begins on average from the mid to late 40s to early 50s. As the production of eggs and hormones begins to decline, many women experience physical changes and symptoms that range in severity and intensity.
In addition to physical symptoms and changes, many women experience emotional and psychological symptoms related to the transition away from the child bearing phase. An OBGYN can help navigate the process and recommend treatment when necessary.
Signs and Symptoms of Menopause
Like the menstrual cycle itself, menopause affects every woman differently. Some may experience only mild symptoms and require minimal to no treatment. Others may experience drastic fluctuations in everything from body temperature to moods, and require medication and specialized treatment plans from an OBGYN to help manage symptoms. The most common symptoms are:
- Vaginal dryness and pain during sex
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Irregular/infrequent periods
- Skin problems and hair loss
- Anxiety and depression
- Mood swings and irritability
- Loss of sex drive
Treatment for Menopause
Depending on the range and severity of symptoms, as well as the woman's overall health, an OBGYN may recommend hormone replacement therapy and medication. Many women benefit from lifestyle modifications like dietary supplements and changes to a more balanced and clean diet. Managing anxiety, depression and stress with exercises like yoga and meditation can help regulate moods, as well as provide an opportunity to engage in social activities in a supportive environment. Although fertility declines and eventually ends with menopause, women can still enjoy an active, fulfilling sex life both during and long after menopause.