Menopause FAQs

By Menopause Now Editorial Team | Updated: Oct 09, 2019


Going through the menopausal transition with so many unfamiliar symptoms can be confusing and terrifying to many women. This is why having a good working knowledge of menopause basics can help women better understand the changes taking place and become more in tune with their bodies.

Keep on reading to discover answers to the most frequently asked questions about menopause that will help you make more sense out of this crucial phase in your life.

What is menopause?

Menopause is defined as a point in time when a woman has not had a period for 12 consecutive months. It is a natural phase in the female reproductive life, which occurs when the production of ovarian hormones ceases. As a result, a woman stops having her periods, and her ability to have children comes to an end.

What's the difference between pre-, peri-, and post-menopause?

Pre-, peri-, and postmenopause are all reproductive stages in a woman's life.

  • Premenopause begins at puberty and lasts until a woman's mid-40s, which is when she enters the menopausal transition, or perimenopause. These are the years of best fertility.

  • Perimenopause is when a woman's ovaries rapidly decrease their hormonal production, causing a variety of menopause symptoms. It lasts until she misses her period for 12 months in a row, thus entering menopause.

  • Postmenopause is the period of time after menopause, starting a year after a woman's final period.

When does menopause start and how long does it last?

Menopause can occur any time between the ages of 45 to 55, with 51 being the average age. However, before a woman reaches menopause, she goes through the preceding stage, perimenopause. Perimenopause can last from 2 to 10 years. It has been shown that menopause age is most likely determined by genetics as women tend to enter menopause at a similar age as their mothers.

What is early and premature menopause?

Menopause that occurs between the ages of 40 and 45 is referred to as early menopause; whereas, one that happens before 40 is called premature menopause. Both early and premature menopause can come about naturally due to primary ovarian insufficiency or might be induced through radiation or chemotherapy.

How is menopause related to hormonal imbalance?

Hormonal imbalance is the underlying cause of natural menopause. As a woman ages, her ovaries deplete their supply of eggs, which have been the main producers of estrogen and progesterone thus far. When there are no more eggs to be released during ovulation, levels of reproductive hormones drop drastically, leaving a woman in a state of imbalance.

What are the symptoms of menopause?

Drastic hormonal fluctuations during the menopausal transition can cause a wide variety of physical and psychological symptoms. Oftentimes, women first notice irregular periods as they enter perimenopause. Other common menopause symptoms are hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and vaginal dryness, while those less common include electric shocks, burning tongue, or tingling extremities. Symptoms tend to lessen into postmenopause, though some might persist.

What are the signs of menopause and how is it diagnosed?

Although menopause symptoms are usually sufficient to confirm that a woman is going through the menopausal transition, there are a variety of tests that can aid in the diagnosis. They most commonly consist of blood tests that provide measurable signs indicative of menopause, such as low estrogen or high follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. An increase in vaginal pH making it more alkaline is another sign used to diagnose menopause.

What healthy lifestyle habits are beneficial for menopause?

A healthy lifestyle can be helpful in reducing the severity of menopause symptoms, especially when combined with alternative medicine. Menopausal women might generally benefit from eating a balanced diet rich in phytoestrogens and essential nutrients; exercising regularly to promote optimal weight and hormonal equilibrium; and maintaining healthy habits, such as reducing stress with yoga, tai chi, or meditation; quitting addictions; and having family and friends for emotional support.

What is the best menopause diet?

A nutritious and well-balanced diet can effectively reduce many menopause symptoms by enhancing hormonal balance, resolving nutritional deficiencies, and preventing weight gain. It can also provide solid protection from heart disease and bone loss, both of which occur at higher rates during menopause. Women should opt for foods rich in phytoestrogens, fiber, and protein as well as key nutrients, like calcium, vitamin D, omegas, and iron. Good options include soy, flaxseed, beans, sardines, and a colorful selection of fruits and vegetables. Drinking plenty of water and eating small, but frequent portions are additional useful tips for an optimal menopause diet.

Can natural remedies relieve menopause symptoms?

Menopause symptoms can be effectively relieved with natural remedies. Some of the best alternative approaches include phytoestrogenic herbal supplements, such as red clover or black cohosh, and hormone-regulating supplements, like Macafem. They are considered safe and effective ways to relieve symptoms by resolving their root cause, hormonal imbalance.

What medical treatments are useful for menopause symptoms?

Besides alternative approaches, menopause symptoms can be relieved with conventional approaches, though they often come with substantial side effects. For instance, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is usually prescribed to women whose menopause symptoms are severe. Other medical menopause treatments might be geared towards specific symptoms, including anti-depressants for menopausal depression or mood swings; antacids for bloating or digestive problems; or prescription pain relievers for joint pain or muscle tension.

What is HRT and is it safe?

HRT, or Hormone Replacement Therapy, is used to relieve menopause symptoms by supplementing the body with synthetic hormones when its own hormone production decreases. Depending on one's test results, HRT can include synthetic estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone hormones. It can be administered in the form of oral medications, injections, creams, or skin patches. Although hormonal therapy can provide effective symptom relief, its long-term use has been associated with a number of serious side effects, like strokes or breast cancer.

Is it possible to get pregnant after menopause?

Once a woman's ovarian supply and hormone production are diminished, she no longer ovulates nor menstruates. As a result, pregnancy after menopause is not possible. However, pregnancy is feasible during perimenopause when hormonal changes are still under way. If a woman stops her periods before the age of 45, she is recommended to use some form of contraception for about two years to prevent unplanned pregnancy.

Can a woman enjoy sex after menopause?

Women most certainly can enjoy having sex after menopause, but they often face a number of challenges. The most frequent complaints among middle-aged women are vaginal dryness, which might make sexual intercourse unappealing or even painful, and loss of libido, which can put further stress on a couple's intimacy. Fortunately, good communication between the partners, more foreplay for increased stimulation, hormone-regulating supplements to boost libido, and the use of lubricants and moisturizers can help women make sex enjoyable once again.

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