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Am I going through Menopause?

Posted by Christie LaValley on March 7, 2018 at 8:15 PM

by Christie LaValley

I was only 40 when my period stopped coming. It was about a year after a sudden tramua in my life. My girls father had committed suicide and dealing with the stress of making sure my kids got the attention and love they needed. My body seemed out of whack. About 6 months in I went to the doctors to find out if I was going through the change. He asked me if I slept. Having been a heavy sleeper all my life. My answer was "yes." He brushed me off and told me I must be stressed. I was so upset with his answer. I just paid over a $100 to be brushed off.

Frustrated I went to another doctor who did not brush off my question because I was only 40 and slept through the night. She ran some blood tests. And guess what? I was menopausal. Often your doctor can make the diagnosis of perimenopause and menopause based on your symptoms. Blood tests to check hormone levels may also be beneficial, but they may be difficult to evaluate due to erratic fluctuations of hormones during this period. It may be more helpful to have several tests done at different times for comparison.

A premature menopause refers to a menopause that occurs prior to age 45.

Additionally, menopause can be induced by chemotherapy, infection, trauma or autoimmune disease. Menopause occurs earlier in smokers and is a result of a smoking related reduction in estrogen levels. Not only had I gone through trauma, but I was diagnosed at the same time with fibromyalgia and I was a smoker. I was very angry at my regular doctor for not knowing this and making me think I was crazy. Do not let your doctor make think you are crazy. You deserve better from your health care providers. Seek another doctor like I did and read as much as you can about menopause. Here is what I learned:

What is Menopause?

A "natural menopause" generally occurs between the ages of 48-52 and is recognized by cessation of the monthly menstrual cycle. When a woman is born, the ovaries contain relatively one million follicles, or eggs. At the age of puberty she has about 600,000 or so still remaining. It is the follicles that are responsible for the natural production of estrogen, the hormone that will assist her physically and mentally into an adult female capable of reproduction. A woman uses up about 1000 of these eggs or follicles every month in this process. The average f reproductive ability is 400 months at the average age of 48-52. It is at this time her ovaries exhaust their supply of available eggs. With the absence of these estrogen-producing follicles, a woman's estrogen levels fall below the levels necessary to trigger ovulation and cause monthly periods.

Perimenopause, or menopause transition, is the stage of a woman's reproductive life that begins several years before menopause, when the ovaries gradually begin to produce less estrogen. It usually starts in a woman's 40s, but has been known to start in a woman's 30s or even earlier.

Perimenopause lasts up until menopause, the stage when the ovaries actually stop releasing eggs. It is in the last one to two years of perimenopause, this decline in estrogen accelerates. At this point, is many women will start experiencing menopausal symptoms which are more abundant the perimenopausal symptoms . The average length of perimenopause is about four years, but for some women this period may last only a few months or continue for about 10 years. Perimenopause ends the first year after menopause. This when a woman has gone 12 months without having her period. You are then consider postmenopausual.

What Are the Signs of Perimenopause?

You may recognize perimenopause when you begin experiencing some or all of the following symptoms:

Hot flashes

Breast tenderness

Worsening of premenstrual syndrome

Decreased libido (sex drive)


Irregular periods

Vaginal dryness; discomfort during sex

Urine leakage when coughing or sneezing

Urinary urgency (a pressing need to urinate more frequently)

Mood swings

Difficulty sleeping

Irregular periods are very common and normal during perimenopause. However, other conditions can cause similar abnormalities in menstrual bleeding. If any of the following situations apply to you, you should see a doctor to rule out other causes:

Your periods are very heavy, and/or accompanied by blood clots

Your periods last several days longer than usual

You spot between periods

You experience spotting after sex

Your periods occur closer together

Other potential causes of abnormal bleeding include hormonal imbalances, birth control pills, pregnancy, fibroids, blood clotting problems or, rarely, cancer.

Many women experience relief from hot flashes after taking low-dose birth control pills for a short period of time or drinking less caffeine. Lowering my caffeine intake helped me drastically. Other options that may control hot flashes include the birth control skin patch, vaginal ring, and progesterone injections. Certain women should not use birth control hormones,especially if you smoke, so talk to your doctor to see if they are right for you.

What are the other types of Menopause?

A surgical menopause or hysterectomy refers to a menopause that is induced by a surgical removal of the uterus. If the ovaries are removed at the time of surgery the fall in hormone levels of both estrogen and testosterone is sudden and severe. Testosterone plays an important part in maintaining energy levels, sex drive and in a number of other important functions. If the ovaries are not removed, they may continue to function and produce adequate levels of estrogen and testosterone, until the time that a natural menopause would have occurred. However, as it turns out, in as many as 50% of these cases, the retained ovaries cease to function normally within three years after surgery. It's easy to see why a surgical menopause/hysterectomy has a greater potential to disrupt health and the quality of life.

Complete list Menopause symptoms:

hot flashes




inability to concentrate


mood swings

chest pain


sore breasts

irregular/heavy bleeding

vaginal dryness

itchy vulva

loss of sex drive

slower sexual arousal

painful intercourse


abdominal bloating

irritable bladder

frequent bladder infection

frequent urination

increased facial hair

thinning hair

itchy skin

brittle nails

pins and needles

sore muscles

stiff/swollen joints

back pain

The Most Important Part of Post-Menopause Life

Along with the physical changes that occur after menopause, women should improve their health care routines. Since hormones do so much more for us then gives us periods, postmenopausal women are at greater risk for heart disease, so redirect your diet toward low-fat foods and lower your salt intake — this reduces the risk of heart attack and atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaque (cholesterol and other fats) builds up on the insides of the arteries.

As part of your routine regular check-ups, you should have a blood test at a minimum of every five years until age 50, and then at regular intervals. Your doctor should recommend at what intervals you should be tested based on how high your cholesterol is, if you are on cholesterol treatment, and on other cardiovascular risk factors that you may have, such as hypertension or obesity. This is serious so do not put it off.

It is suggested that women should have their bone density checked once every two years to detect early signs of osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones. It has been shown that postmenopausal women are particularly at risk for this condition. Research has shown that up to 20 percent of bone loss can occur in the first five years of menopause.

Also, it is suggested that women ages 50 and up should consume at least 1,200 milligrams of calcium every day to maintain their bone health. This can be accomplished with supplements, and by consuming calcium-rich foods like milk.

Make sure you take care of yourself and share with other women early the signs of menopause. Let no woman be left in the dark. Hormones are hard enough to deal with!



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