Menopause arrives at the end of a woman’s last menstrual period, which typically happens between ages 45 and 55. But you may start experiencing hot flashes and other symptoms two to eight years before your last period.
Menstrual changes are often the first sign of approaching menopause. In the years before menopause, a woman’s ovaries naturally begin to produce less estrogen. As a result, you may skip periods or have heavier or lighter periods than usual.
Declining estrogen levels may also cause the following:
Some of these symptoms may last for several years after a woman’s last period.
The simple lifestyle changes to help relieve menopausal symptoms:
Certain menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness, respond to hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT may also protect against osteoporosis. However, HRT could pose serious health risks. For example, estrogen-only therapy might increase a woman’s risk for stroke and blood clots. And using combination therapy — estrogen plus progestin — is linked with a higher risk for blood clots, breast cancer, stroke and heart disease.
If you’re considering hormone replacement therapy, ask your ob-gyn or primary care physician for help in weighing its pros and cons.