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You and your doctor will most likely be able to tell based on irregular periods and other symptoms. If you have heavy, irregular periods, your doctor may want to do tests to rule out a serious cause of the bleeding. Heavy bleeding may be a normal sign of perimenopause. But it can also be caused by infection, disease, or a pregnancy problem.

You may not need to see your doctor about menopause symptoms. But it is important to keep up your annual physical exams. Your risks for heart disease, cancer, and bone thinning osteoporosis increase after menopause. At your yearly visits, your doctor can check your overall health and recommend testing as needed.

But if your symptoms are upsetting or uncomfortable, you don't have to suffer through them. There are treatments that can help. The first step is to have a healthy lifestyle. This may help reduce symptoms and also lower your risk of heart disease and other long-term problems related to aging. If lifestyle changes aren't enough to relieve your symptoms, you can try other measures, such as breathing exercises and yoga.

If you have severe symptoms, you may want to ask your doctor about prescription medicines. Choices include:. All medicines for menopause symptoms have possible risks or side effects. A very small number of women develop serious health problems when taking hormone therapy. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your possible health risks before you start a treatment for menopause symptoms.

Remember, it is still possible to become pregnant until you reach menopause. To prevent an unwanted pregnancy, keep using birth control until you have not had a period for 1 full year. Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health. Menopause is a natural part of aging. As you age, the number and quality of your eggs decline, hormone levels fluctuate, and your menstrual cycle becomes less predictable until it finally stops completely.

Certain lifestyle choices and medical treatments can cause or are linked to an earlier menopause, including:. The first sign that you are nearing menopause is a change in your menstrual periods. They may become less frequent. And they may be lighter or heavier than you're used to. Menopause symptoms range from mild or none to severe. They include:. These symptoms usually go away after 1 or 2 years. But some women have them for several years longer. Other conditions can cause similar symptoms. Examples include pregnancy; a significant change in weight; depression; anxiety; or uterine, thyroid, or pituitary problems.

How can perimenopause or menopause cause mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety?

Menopause caused by surgery, chemotherapy , or radiation therapy can cause more severe symptoms than usual. Preexisting conditions such as depression, anxiety, sleep problems, or irritability can also make symptoms worse. After you stop having menstrual periods, you may get other symptoms, including:.

In your late 30s, your egg supply begins to decline in number and quality. As a result, your hormone production changes. You may notice a shortened menstrual cycle and some premenstrual syndrome PMS symptoms that you didn't have before. Gradually, your periods become irregular. This can start as early as your late 30s or as late as your early 50s. It continues for 2 to 8 years before menstrual cycles end. Your progesterone is likely to fluctuate more than before. This can lead to heavy menstrual bleeding. If you have heavy or unexpected vaginal bleeding, see your doctor to be sure it isn't caused by a more serious condition.

About 6 months to a year before your periods stop, your estrogen starts to drop. When it drops past a certain point, your menstrual cycles stop. After a year of no menstrual periods, you are said to have "reached menopause. During the next year or so, estrogen levels keep going down. This lowers your risk for certain types of cancers estrogen is linked to some types of cancerous cell growth. But low estrogen also creates some health concerns, such as:.

Although the reasons aren't well understood, a woman's risk of heart disease increases after menopause. Because heart disease is the number one killer of women, consider your heart risk factors when making lifestyle and treatment decisions. The following health professionals can help you manage menopause symptoms and evaluate menstrual period changes:. Your age, your history of menstrual periods, your symptoms, and the results of your pelvic exam will tell your doctor whether you are near or at menopause.

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If possible, bring a calendar or journal of your periods and symptoms. If you have severe symptoms, if your doctor suspects another medical condition, or if you have a medical condition that makes a diagnosis difficult, your doctor may do one or more of the following blood tests:. If you have had no menstrual periods for 1 year, this is a good time to have a full physical exam, with particular focus on your heart health and risk factors for osteoporosis. But symptoms can be difficult for some women. If you have trouble sleeping, mood swings, hot flashes, cloudy thinking, heavy menstrual periods , or other symptoms, treatment can help you get through this time more comfortably.

Treatment for menopause symptoms may include:. A healthy lifestyle may help you manage menopause symptoms. It can also help lower your risk for heart disease, osteoporosis , and other long-term health problems. To manage hot flashes , try keeping your environment cool, dressing in layers, and managing stress. To improve vaginal dryness , try using a vaginal lubricant.

Medicines can help you cope with bothersome menopause symptoms. Some medicines contain hormones, and some don't. Hormone therapy is sometimes used to treat menopause symptoms. But women who use it may have a higher risk of other health problems. If your symptoms are the result of early menopause brought on by having your ovaries removed along with your uterus, you may consider estrogen therapy ET. But ET may increase the risk of health problems in a small number of women.

Short-term, low-dose HT or ET can be taken for up to 4 to 5 years, with regular checkups. This may work well for many women, who will find that their menopause symptoms have subsided within this period of time. Many women have turned to alternative medicine for menopause symptom relief. Before you try prescription medicines or hormones, you can think about using one or more of the following options for preventing or treating symptoms. Remember that dietary supplements aren't regulated the way medicines are. It's important to be careful when taking supplements.

Tell your doctor what you are taking. Based on the latest research, some treatments aren't recommended, either because they don't work or because they can cause dangerous effects. Author: Healthwise Staff. Medical Review: Anne C. Menopause and Perimenopause. Skip Navigation.

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Topic Overview What is menopause? What is perimenopause? What causes menopause? What are the symptoms? Common symptoms include: Irregular periods. Some women have light periods. Others have heavy bleeding. Your menstrual cycle may be longer or shorter, or you may skip periods. Hot flashes. Trouble sleeping insomnia. Emotional changes.

Some women have mood swings or feel grouchy, depressed, or worried. Feeling that your heart is beating too fast or unevenly palpitations. Problems with remembering or thinking clearly. Vaginal dryness. Do you need tests to diagnose menopause? Do you need treatment? Make a special effort to eat well. Choose a heart-healthy diet that is low in saturated fat. It should include plenty of fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, and high-fiber grains and breads. Eat a nutritious diet and be sure you are getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D to help your bones stay strong.

Low-fat or nonfat dairy products are a great source of calcium. Get regular exercise. Exercise can help you manage your weight, keep your heart and bones strong, and lift your mood. Limit caffeine, alcohol, and stress. These things may make symptoms worse. Limiting them may help you sleep better. If you smoke, stop. Quitting smoking can reduce hot flashes and long-term health risks. Choices include: Low-dose birth control pills before menopause. Low-dose hormone therapy HT after menopause.

A medicine called clonidine Catapres that is usually used to treat high blood pressure. Health Tools Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health. Decision Points focus on key medical care decisions that are important to many health problems. Actionsets are designed to help people take an active role in managing a health condition. Cause Menopause is a natural part of aging. Causes of early menopause Certain lifestyle choices and medical treatments can cause or are linked to an earlier menopause, including: Smoking.

The longer you have smoked and the more you smoke, the stronger this effect is likely to be. Radiation therapy or other treatment to the abdomen or pelvis that damages the ovaries so that they no longer function. Genetic and autoimmune diseases. Removal of both ovaries oophorectomy , which causes sudden menopause. Low body fat. Symptoms The first sign that you are nearing menopause is a change in your menstrual periods. They include: Hot flashes.

Signs and Symptoms of Perimenopause

Sleep disturbances insomnia. Emotional changes, such as mood swings or irritability. A change in sexual interest or response. Problems with concentration and memory that are linked to sleep loss and fluctuating hormones not a permanent sign of aging. Rapid, irregular heartbeats heart palpitations.

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  5. Later symptoms After you stop having menstrual periods, you may get other symptoms, including: Drying and thinning of the skin, caused by lower collagen production. Vaginal and urinary tract changes, such as: Vaginal dryness, irritation, and itching. An increased risk of vaginal and urinary tract infections UTIs. Pain with sexual activity. What Happens In your late 30s, your egg supply begins to decline in number and quality.

    But low estrogen also creates some health concerns, such as: Bone loss. Low estrogen levels after menopause speed bone loss, increasing your risk of osteoporosis. Skin changes. Low estrogen leads to low collagen , which is a building block of skin and connective tissue. It's normal to have thinner, dryer, wrinkled skin after menopause. The vaginal lining and the lower urinary tract also thin and weaken.

    This condition can make sexual activity difficult. It can also increase the risk of vaginal and urinary tract infections. Tooth and gum changes. Menopause and care of the mature woman. In: Comprehensive Gynecology. Philadelphia, Pa.

    Are you starting to notice changes in how you feel as you age?

    Accessed April 30, Casper RF. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of menopause.

    At Home Perimenopause Test - Results You Can Understand- EverlyWell

    McNamara M, et al. In the Clinic. Annals of Internal Medicine. Menopausal hormone therapy. Rochester, Minn. North American Menopause Society. The Menopause Guidebook. Menopause and menopause treatments. Office on Women's Health. Accessed Aug. Ferri FF. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor Welt CK. Ovarian development and failure menopause in normal women.

    Obstetrics and Gynecology. Reaffirmed Management of menopausal symptoms. Jameson JL, et al. Menopause and postmenopausal hormone therapy. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. New York, N. Santen RJ, et al. Menopausal hot flashes. Leach MJ, et al. Black cohosh Cimicifuga spp. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Bedell S, et al. The pros and cons of plant estrogens for menopause.

    Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Committee Opinion No. Sood R, et al. Paced breathing compared with usual breathing for hot flashes. Fisher TE, et al. Lifestyle alterations for the amelioration of hot flashes.