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Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Tests For Menopause

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Menopause is a rather significant period during a woman's lifetime as it marks the beginning of the period when the ovaries stop producing eggs and the body tends to produce lesser amounts of estrogen and progesterone. A woman's life can be divided into two phases; pre-menopause and post-menopause. The sudden change in the hormonal balance of the woman's body is likely to trigger a number of changes in her body as well as attitude. The physical changes that occur include the loss of bone density, the worsening of blood cholesterol levels as well as an increased risk of heart disease. While the general age of women to experience menopause is around the age of about 51 years, some women are unfortunate enough to experience early menopause - defined as experiencing the change as early as in the 40's.

Tests Recommended

Menopause tests are primarily performed in order to conclusively point out that a woman is, in fact, experiencing the onset of menopause, as opposed to suffering a sudden and temporary change in hormonal levels. A pelvic exam may be performed in order to gauge changes to the vaginal lining which is the result of decreased estrogen levels in the body. A Follicle Stimulating hormone test is essentially a blood test that is used as well while PAP smears and Bone density tests may also use to conclude the change in a woman's cycle. Because of the fact that post menopausal women are considered to be at a higher risk of suffering from heart disease, a doctor will also usually perform blood pressure and cholesterol levels from time to time and ensure that they are within normal ranges.

Causes

While menopause is considered to be a condition that is a regular part of a woman's aging pattern, understanding the factors that cause menopause to occur will go a long way into helping you deal with and accept the change more readily than you might have been otherwise. First and foremost, it is important to understand the fact that once you have experienced menopause, your body is no longer able to have a child as the ovaries have stopped releasing eggs. This is usually the biggest adjustment for a woman on a mental scale when it comes to dealing with menopause. Menopause causes span over a number of factors that are likely to be outside the boundaries of a woman's control. Some of these factors include family history and x-chromosome abnormalities. Moreover, other medical conditions such as autoimmune diseases are always likely to play their part as is health damaging habits such as smoking. Some of the other factors that place some women at more risk of suffering from early menopause than others include smoking, having never been pregnant or living a significant portion of her life at rather high altitudes.

Symptoms

Some of the more common menopause symptoms that one is likely to experience include hot flashes, an irregular heartbeat, night sweats and significant sleeping problems including insomnia. In some women, the transition into their menopausal stage is rather gradual while in others it can develop rather suddenly with the menstrual flow coming to a rather sudden and abrupt halt. In the instances where the transition is more gradual, the woman is likely to notice the menstrual periods becoming either more closely or farther apart, while the physical changes that a woman is likely to experience include the thinning as well as loosening of the vaginal wall and the lubricating secretions around the vagina also becoming more watery. Some of the other symptoms that the woman may experience at this time include an increasing sense of forgetfulness, headaches and a decreased interest in sexual stimulation as well as intercourse.

Treatment

While most instances will see the doctor suggest that you take things as they come during the natural cycle of menopause, a woman experiencing very serious and severe symptoms may be required to undergo some sort of menopause treatment in order to ease the transition. Hormonal therapy is one of the most common types of menopause treatment and is usually performed in order to subdue the effects of the more serious symptoms such as hot flashes, anxiety, mood swings and trouble sleeping at night. However, there are a number of factors that need to be considered before placing someone on hormonal treatment. For instance, hormone treatment cannot be provided to someone who started menopause a number of years ago. Moreover, the patient should also be considered to be a low base risk for conditions including breast cancer, blood clots and heart disease. It is very important to remember that the hormonal therapy medication should not be taken for a period over 5 years unless specifically advised by your doctor and it is important to slowly phase out of the treatment when you no longer require the additional medication to subdue the effects of menopause.

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