FAQ – Women’s Health

What is menopause?

Menopause is a natural stage of a woman’s reproductive cycle. It is a transition marked by changes in one’s menstrual cycle, specifically the time frame after which a woman’s period has been absent for 12 months. Onset of menopause typically occurs in a woman’s mid-to-late 40’s with the average age of last period being 51 years. Some women may experience menopause much earlier or later than average.

What are the symptoms of menopause and how long does it last?

Common symptoms a woman can experience when going through menopause may include, but are not limited to: hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, memory loss, urinary incontinence (urine leaking, especially with coughs or sneezing), difficulty sleeping, depression, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, headache, and joint pains. Menopause lasts four years on average, although it may be longer or shorter in some individuals.

What herbal or non-prescription things can I try for symptom relief?

There are some over-the-counter products available, but the safety and efficacy of use for each product has not been established. These products may also have unsafe interactions with your other medications, so you should talk to your pharmacist before using any herbal or non-prescription items to treat menopause symptoms.

How does estrogen fit into treatment after all of the recently published studies showing that it could be dangerous for me?

Estrogen therapy has been proven to be the most effective treatment for reducing menopausal symptoms. Recent studies have shown that it is safe for women with more severe symptoms. However, like any medication, there are risks associated with estrogen use. Discuss with your health care provider your individual risks and whether or not estrogen therapy is right for you.

Where can I find more information about menopause?

The Mayo Clinic’s menopuase page includes a wealth of menopause information including: signs and symptoms, causes, risk factors, when to seek medical advice, screening and diagnosis, complications, treatment, self-care, and complementary and alternative medicine.

The North American Menopause Society is the leading nonprofit scientific organization devoted to promoting women’s health and quality of life through an understanding of menopause. This site contains information on menopause, perimenopause, early menopause, menopause symptoms and long-term health effects of estrogen loss, and a wide variety of strategies and therapies to enhance health.