Unraveling the mystery and symptoms of menopause – NewsCenterMaine.com WCSH-WLBZ

Posted: November 6, 2020 at 9:53 am

Health experts say roughly 1.3 million women in the U.S. become menopausal each year, usually between the ages of 40 and 50.

BRIDGTON, Maine Menopause is a time when menstrual periods cease over a 12 month spana big change that can be full of mystery, stress, and a little fear. Another concern is that many parents aren't comfortable talking about menopause to their doctors or anyone else.

Lois McIver was in her late forties when she began experiencing debilitating migraines. They subsided after her doctor recommended birth control pills. Not too long after she got off of them in her mid-50's, a new set of symptoms came all at once.

"Six months later no periods, hot flashes daily like twenty times a day," McIver said.

McIver, who has three grown daughters, was going through perimenopause, a transitional stage when the body is preparing to stop ovulating. The birth control pills may have put off what was inevitable.

"There is nothing out there to prepare you that this might happen and what you may go through," McIver said.

Dr. Rebecca Whiteley is a OBGYN at Northern Light Mercy Women's Health. She says menopause is only one day in a woman's life, which is exactly when she has not had a period for 12 months. But it can be a moving target.

"The average age for menopause is 51. But you know some people start in their early 40's, some in their 50's," Dr. Whiteley said.

Some women can even start earlier, in their 30's. Experts list 34 different symptoms which can effect a woman years before menopause actually begins. Hot flashes affect around 75% of menopausal women.

Other more common symptoms include fatigue, irregular periods, night sweats, mood swings, sleep disorders, and memory problems. All are the result of dropping estrogen levels, but some women don't get any symptoms.

In some cases, doctors may prescribe hormone replacement therapy, known as HRT, to supplement estrogen levels. There are other options to help take the edge off the hot flashes, including anti-depressants and blood pressure medication.

If you are suffering with symptoms you also may want to seek out a women's health care provider.

"If you feel you aren't getting anywhere with your primary care doctor, don't stop there. Most people can in to see a gynecologist without necessarily needing a referral," Dr. Whiteley said.

As for McIver, hormone replacement therapy was not an option because the treatment carries an increased risk for breast cancer and the disease runs in her family. With the support of her husband, she stayed active and took care of herself.

Except for an occasional hot flash, McIver is now on the other side. She encourages other women to find out everything they can about perimenopause, so they can make the transition more manageable.

For more information on menopause, symptoms, and treatment, click HERE.

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Unraveling the mystery and symptoms of menopause - NewsCenterMaine.com WCSH-WLBZ

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