Menopause

As a woman, your hormones control all sorts of things, including your menstrual cycle. The levels of estrogen and progesterone start to naturally dip right around age 45. From there, they sort of plateau. This is usually the beginning of menopause, or the stage in life when you stop having periods. It’s your body’s sign that its baby-making days are over. This normal part of aging will likely cause some unwanted symptoms. So, how does your body get to this point?

Technically, menopause starts when your body goes a full 12 months without a period (that includes spotting). Your menstrual cycle may have been on auto-pilot since puberty, with your ovaries producing plenty of estrogen to keep your monthly flow regular. As you move into your late 40s and early 50s, the ovaries make less and less estrogen until there’s no longer enough for your body to release an egg. This is what triggers natural menopause. We say “natural” because sometimes having your ovaries removed can also trigger menopause (premature menopause).1,2

Who should I see about menopause?

If you have questions or concerns about menopause, or you’d like some guidance on how to live with your symptoms, you may want to go right to your gynecologist. Your gynecologist specializes in the health of female organs and will likely be your best choice. You can also pay your primary care provider a visit (the doctor or provider you might see for your yearly physical). Be sure to come prepared with a list of your symptoms and questions.

Footnotes

  1. Menopause, Perimenopause and Postmenopause clevelandclinic.org, 2019.
  2. Menopause basics womenshealth.gov, 2019.
  3. Menopause, Perimenopause and Postmenopause clevelandclinic.org, 2019.
  4. Menopause basics womenshealth.gov, 2019.
  5. Menopause, Perimenopause and Postmenopause clevelandclinic.org, 2019.
  6. Menopause, Weight Gain, and Exercise Tips webmd.com, 2021.
  7. Staying Healthy at Menopause and Beyond menopause.org, 2021.
  8. Kegel exercises: A how-to guide for women mayoclinic.org, 2020.