Know what to expect...and how to adjust to changes in your body
Menopause is a perfectly natural and normal event in a woman's life. Of course, going through menopause may leave you feeling anything but natural and normal. Your body's changing, and with it, your emotions may be, too. Understanding what happens during menopause is an important first step in helping you better adjust to the changes that come along with it.
During menopause, your ovaries stop producing eggs; your body produces lower levels of estrogen and other hormones (like progesterone); and menstruation becomes less frequent, eventually stopping altogether. Most women experience menopause between the ages of 40 and 58, with the average age being around 51.4
The phases and types of menopause
There are several terms related to menopause that are worth defining4:
- Perimenopause: The transition leading up to menopause in which estrogen levels in the body gradually decline. Physical symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, often begin during this phase, which can last for 6 years or more.
- Menopause: The phase marking the permanent end of a woman's menstrual cycle—when a woman has not had a period for 12 consecutive months.
- Postmenopause: The years following menopause. Some symptoms due to menopause may still linger during this phase.
- Surgical menopause: In a woman whose ovaries are surgically removed (a procedure known as bilateral oophorectomy), menopause may begin earlier. A woman whose uterus has been surgically removed (a procedure known as a hysterectomy) but whose ovaries are still in place will not automatically go through menopause. She may, however, experience an end to her ovarian estrogen production approximately 2 to 3 years earlier than usual.
Symptoms of menopause
What can you expect when going through menopause? While not every woman experiences physical symptoms, many do. These symptoms are caused by hormonal changes in the body and can vary in type and severity for each woman. Women who experience surgical or induced menopause often experience more sudden and intense symptoms versus women who go through menopause naturally.4 The important thing to know is that many women may find relief of menopausal symptoms through treatment. It's essential to educate yourself and to talk with your healthcare provider about the treatment that may work best for you.
In this section: An overview of menopause, common symptoms, and treatment options
Menopause can be a confusing subject. You may find yourself struggling with questions or sorting through conflicting information. To better understand what your body is going through, explore the information in this section. Know that all decisions regarding treatment for your menopausal symptoms should be made in conjunction with your healthcare provider. Please review all of the risks, warnings, adverse reactions, and contraindications detailed in the full prescribing information for all treatment options.
- Understanding your symptoms: Learn what causes common menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, and what, if anything, you can do to help relieve them.
- Insights on estrogen therapy: Hormone therapies for the treatment of hot flashes and night sweats due to menopause are primarily available either in pill form or as transdermal (through the skin) products that are applied directly to the skin. Estrogen may or may not be prescribed along with progesterone therapy. Understand more about the various treatment options.
- Other treatments: Learn more about other treatment options for hot flashes, including compounded bioidentical hormones and herbal remedies.
- Menopause FAQ: Get answers to frequently asked questions about menopause, its symptoms, and treatment.
All estrogen therapy has risks. Please see important risk information at the bottom of this page. Before you start treatment, discuss the benefits and risks of any therapy with your healthcare provider.
Call your doctor for medical advice about any side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or to Meda Pharmaceuticals Inc. at 1-877-999-8401.