Given its informal title “the change of life,” it’s no surprise that menopause, just like any other change, can cause anxiety. However, menopause – the time in a women’s life when menstruation stops – doesn’t have to be a time that women anticipate with dismay.
Menopause, which happens because the ovaries stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone, can occur in a woman’s 40s or 50s, but the average age is 51-and-a-half. Perimenopause is the term used to describe the transition years and is sometimes used interchangeably with menopause.
A woman has reached menopause when she has not had a period for 12 months. Because the body is producing fewer hormones, a woman may experience some symptoms as her body adjusts. Symptoms, which are most severe for one to two years after a woman’s last period and may last up to five years, include: hot flashes and sweating; cessation of menstrual flow or irregular menstrual flow; heart racing; insomnia; decreased libido; headaches; skin flushing; vaginal dryness; and mood swings.
While each woman’s experience with menopause is different, a healthy lifestyle may help relieve mood swings, depression and irritability. Over-the-counter products and prescription medications – phytoestrogen supplements made from plants, vaginal lubricants and moisturizers, hormone replacement therapy, and the prescription medication Osphena – can help women manage menopause symptoms if they are severe or bothersome.