Tag Archives: Premenopause

Low Estrogen: What It Means and What Symptoms to Look For

Low Estrogen: What It Means and What Symptoms to Look For

Estrogen plays a significant role in a woman’s life. Estrogen contributes to reproductive health as well as regulating aging. Most women understand that estrogen levels usually decrease during perimenopause or menopause, a sign that they are leaving the childbearing years behind.

Sometimes, it can happen early, such as when a woman over-exercises on a regular basis (exercise addiction), or she suffers from an eating disorder like anorexia, and her body can no longer maintain estrogen levels.

Decreasing estrogen levels, although considered a normal part of menopause, may cause adverse effects to a woman’s body and her health.

Estrogen in the Body

Estrogen is most notably responsible for the sexual development of girls during puberty. These levels of estrogen fluctuate throughout a woman’s lifetime up until menopause, when low levels of estrogen completely prevent menstruation and ovulation.

Estrogen also regulates:

  • Changes in breast tissue during adolescence and pregnancy
  • Menstrual cycles
  • Body weight, by helping control metabolism
  • Development and growth of healthy bone tissue
  • Healthy cardiovascular activity

With so many effects on various parts of the body, it is important that estrogen levels maintain a healthy standard. Low estrogen levels can be a sign of age, but seriously low levels can have lasting negative effects.

Causes for Concern

Any condition that impairs the ovaries can reduce estrogen production. The most common risk factor for women is age. As women age, perimenopause and menopause cause the body to produce less estrogen. Estrogen levels can also decrease for various other reasons, including:

  • Premature ovarian failure
  • Congenital conditions: Turner syndrome
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Excessive exercise
  • Being severely under or overweight
  • Chemotherapy
  • Low functioning pituitary gland

Other unique cases can include excessive exercising and eating disorders such as anorexia. If a woman is more than 15 percent underweight, the body can no longer maintain normal estrogen levels. In order to maintain healthy levels of estrogen, a woman should maintain a healthy diet, lifestyle, and weight.

Physical Symptoms of Low Estrogen

Effects and Symptoms

As women approach the age of 40, they may wonder what symptoms to look for that herald decreasing levels of estrogen. Estrogen depletion can bring on a combination of hormonal and biochemical fluctuations that can lead to changes in the brain and nervous system.

Irregular Periods

Estrogen is the critical hormone in regulating a woman’s period and menstrual cycle. Low estrogen levels can cause irregular periods, including shorter or longer periods, light or heavier flow, spotting, or missed periods altogether.

Infertility

Low estrogen directly affects ovulation. Without estrogen, ovulation will not occur making it difficult to become pregnant. This is considered infertility.

Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

The most common symptoms and probably the least liked, hot flashes and night sweats can go on for a long time: 7 to 11 years. They are caused by the hypothalamus which controls body temperature. When estrogen levels start going down, the hypothalamus can no longer regulate body temperature and even the slightest change can cause hot flashes or night sweats to bring the temperature down, or chills to bring it back up.

Insomnia and Fatigue

Estrogen produces serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that triggers melatonin, a hormone that helps a person sleep. Once a woman goes into menopause, the depleted estrogen levels produce less serotonin and by extension, less melatonin. With the night sweats that interrupt sleep, fatigue and insomnia become the new normal.

Mood Swings

Hormonal imbalances, that often make teenagers moody and difficult, are back during menopause, making women grumpy. Add lack of sleep and it can get worse. Mood swings – laughing, crying, anger and upset – at the drop of a hat – are all part of the package.

Depression and Difficulty Focusing

Serotonin also affects mood and social behavior, as well as memory, sexual desire and function.  With lowered serotonin levels, depression, not just mood swings, can occur and it becomes more difficult to recover from it. Memory lapses and trouble focusing or concentrating are two more symptoms of low estrogen and serotonin levels. Some experts believe that they put women at a greater risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Physical Symptoms of Low Estrogen

The brain and nervous system are not the only parts of a woman that are affected by menopause and lowered estrogen levels. Of course, the reproductive system’s ability decreases with age as ovary function and estrogen levels go down. But the skin, heart, bones and urinary systems are also affected.

Dry Everything and Low Sexual Desire

Dry skin, dry eyes and a dry vagina are more signs of menopause and low estrogen levels. These can be allayed with moisturizing fluids, such as lotion, eye drops and lubricant (in that order). Unfortunately, reduced sexual desire comes from decreased estrogen and serotonin levels. Menopause also makes the vaginal walls thinner and they lose elasticity, coupled with vaginal dryness, sex can be painful.

The skin loses its moisture-holding abilities as well as its elasticity, leading to dryness, itching, and an increase in wrinkling and sagging. Also, it becomes more susceptible to injury, such as bruising, due to thinning of the skin and it doesn’t heal as quickly. Researchers are beginning to study the lack of estrogen as a possible connection to melanoma, a serious type of skin cancer.

The Heart Connection

As women get older, they become more vulnerable to cardiovascular issues, such as heart attacks, strokes, or other heart-related problems. Hypertension, or high blood pressure is the biggest cardiovascular risk for women in and after menopause. Normally estrogen increases levels of nitric oxide, which is a very powerful dilator of blood vessels, and dilated blood vessels are conducive to healthy blood pressure.

Lowered estrogen levels make hypertension an increasingly bigger factor in women.

Though this may not start until just before perimenopause, it can quickly increase until about age 60, when the new level of blood pressure stabilizes to a new norm.

The Beautiful Bones

After the age of 30, new bone production cannot keep up with bone loss and once menopause hits and estrogen levels decrease, women have an increased risk for low bone mineral density, osteopenia and osteoporosis. This bone density loss can lead to weakening of the bones and an increased risk for fractures and other injuries.

The Urinary System

No laughing matter, incontinence is one of the signs of decreased estrogen levels. Just as with the vaginal walls, the reduced levels of estrogen cause the urethra walls to thin, dry and lose elasticity. This causes the incontinence when coughing, laughing, sneezing or lifting heavy objects. It also leads to feeling the need for frequent urination and an increased risk for developing UTIs.

Weight Gain

Estrogen plays a significant role in weight management and how the body stores fat. During perimenopause and menopause low estrogen contributes to weight gain. Specifically women store more fat in their thighs and hips, which can change during menopause. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help combat weight gain with low estrogen levels.

Diagnosis and Treatment for Low Estrogen

If any of the above-noted symptoms appear, the first step is to get a physical exam by a trusted physician who can review your medical history and symptoms. It may be necessary to do a blood test to check hormone levels. The doctor may also recommend additional tests to rule out other conditions that might be causing symptoms similar to low estrogen.

Synthetic Hormone Treatment

Hormone Replacement Therapy or HRT is sometimes recommended for women who do not have high blood pressure or other cardiovascular problems. There are various types of HRTs available, including one that combines estrogen with progesterone, a hormone that maintains pregnancy. There are side effects that need to be considered, but these can be discussed with a doctor, to determine which HRT is best.

Sometimes all that is needed are serotonin-boosting antidepressants for those women who end up suffering from depression more than the other symptoms.

Estrogen Therapy

Estrogen therapy is recommended by a doctor or medical expert. In some cases, small amounts of estrogen can be used to combat those who have had small changes in their estrogen levels, such as women who have had their ovaries removed. In other instances, estrogen therapy may be used to treat certain symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.

Natural Treatments

Natural remedies include natural food and soy supplements, maintaining a healthy weight and, in some cases, decreasing the intensity or frequency of exercise. Soy or soybean isoflavones are, at best, an alternative treatment for HRT, and at worst, a controversial treatment with increased risk for breast cancer. It’s best to speak to your doctor or healthcare professional before adding this or any supplement to your diet.

Exercise and eating foods rich in calcium and adding vitamin D supplements during and after menopause is a good way to maintain and increase bone density. Low-fat milk, cheese and dairy products, green leafy vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and okra, as well as soybeans and soy products such as tofu, are great for getting the extra calcium needed. It is important to remember that exercise must also be sufficient, but not excessive. Too much exercise and too little body fat can further decrease levels of estrogen.

Estrogen Overview

Reduced estrogen levels can cause many problems for women, including an increased risk of serious conditions, including heart disease, osteoporosis (softening of bone tissue), and obesity.  However there are ways to lessen the symptoms and the impact of lower estrogen levels to a woman’s overall wellbeing, including her physical, emotional, and sexual health.

The sooner a woman can be screened for low estrogen levels, the better chance she has at combatting the negative effects listed above. AZGYN’s Gynecology Services and Minimally Invasive Procedures can be the solution for many women. They provide an assortment of general health practices and specialized services by expert staff and surgeons. If you are a woman and suspect you have low estrogen levels, contact AZ Gyn today.

What Are The Signs of Perimenopause

What Are The Signs of Perimenopause?

This entry was posted in Menopause and tagged , on by .

Perimenopause is the stage before menopause, also known as menopause transition. As the female body begins to transition into menopause, it also produces less estrogen. This natural transition indicates the end of reproductive years, until eventually the female body no longer produces eggs. During perimenopause, women still have their periods, but the cycles’ durations can change, becoming longer, shorter, or skipped altogether.

Once a woman has not had a period in 12 consecutive months, perimenopause is over, and menopause has begun. The signs of perimenopause are a result of decreasing estrogen, and can be uncomfortable and unexpected. For women approaching menopause, it is important to understand what the signs of perimenopause are. Seeking the right professional counsel and treatment can help make your perimenopause experience more tolerable.

When Does Perimenopause Start?

The change of life that occurs with perimenopause is different for every woman. Typically, the process begins when a woman is in her 40s, but can occur as early as her 30s. Changes in the body due to hormonal fluctuations mark the beginning of perimenopause. However, the true beginning of perimenopause is at birth. At birth, every woman has the total number of eggs she will ever have in each ovary. During puberty, the body ovulates and prepares itself for reproduction. During perimenopause, the opposite takes place. As perimenopause takes place, the body has depleted its supply of eggs ending the natural reproductive cycle. It is important to be honest with your healthcare provider and loved ones if you feel you are in perimenopause.

How Long Does Perimenopause Last?

Perimenopause lasts until menopause begins, which is after 12 consecutive missed periods. In years, perimenopause typically lasts for four years, but some women may only experience perimenopause for a few months, or it may last up to 10 years.

Estrogen During Perimenopause

Changing levels in circulating oxygen throughout the female body are the direct cause of perimenopause. During puberty and a woman’s natural reproductive years, estrogen within the body rises and falls at regular intervals. Two hormones specifically control estrogen: follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) and luteinizing hormones (LH). Various amounts of FSH and LH control regular ovulation, causing the egg to fall during ovulation. Ultimately, this process is what causes pregnancy, but if pregnancy does not occur, the cycle begins again. Changes in these two hormones during perimenopause alter the cycle completely, until menstruation ceases to occur.

What Are Early Signs of Perimenopause?

Perimenopause might seem to happen unexpectedly, but there are early signs that indicate perimenopause. Symptoms vary among women, and never occur to the same degree. It is important for woman to be observant of their bodies as they approach common perimenopause age. Some of these early symptoms of perimenopause may include:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Worsening premenstrual syndrome
  • Changing cholesterol levels
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Discomfort during sex
  • Urine leakage
Perimenopause

Women who are unsure if they are experiencing perimenopause should consult their doctor. A doctor can usually diagnose perimenopause based on symptoms alone, otherwise a blood test may be helpful. Blood tests will measure hormone levels, but while hormone levels are changing, it is common practice to take several blood tests at different times for comparison.

What Are Common Symptoms of Perimenopause?

Perimenopause is a biological change in hormones, however common life changes due to aging also play a role in perimenopausal symptoms. A woman should understand what are the symptoms of perimenopause specifically, and differentiate between lifestyle changes such as children leaving, changes in careers, or death or illness of parents common at this time.

  • Perimenopause periods: Irregular cycles and spotting instead of a period characterize perimenopause periods. Changes in periods may include shorter or longer cycles, heavy or lighter flows, spotting, or skipping periods altogether. A change of seven days or more indicates perimenopause, while a change of 60 days or more indicates late perimenopause. 
  • Hot flashes: Most women believe that hot flashes are only characteristic of menopause, but they often begin in perimenopause. Hot flashes can vary from a slight feeling of warmth to an overwhelming feeling of consumption by fire, inside and out. A significant hot flash can induce facial and upper body redness, swelling, chills, visible perspiration, and even confusion. 
  • Decreasing fertility: Irregular ovulation inevitably means that the likelihood of conception and pregnancy decreases. However, even during perimenopause pregnancy is not impossible. Pregnancy is still possible until a woman hasn’t had a period for 12 consecutive months. 
  • Changes in sexual function: Significant changes in a woman’s body will often cause changes in sexual function such as lower sex drive and a decrease in arousal. Vaginal dryness and changes in bladder function can also contribute to changes in sexual function. Restoration of sexual drive should occur after perimenopause has passes. 
  • Nausea: Perimenopause nausea is a result of varying levels of estrogen in the body. When levels of estrogen are particularly high, nausea is highest as well. In some women, this may require rehabilitation through medication or other treatment. 
  • Loss of bone: Loss of bone is also known as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a common occurrence as men and women age, but there is a direct link between decreasing estrogen levels and loss of bone.

These are the most common symptoms of perimenopause, but physicians do not consider all signs harmless. In order to rule out other conditions, a woman should consult her doctor if she experiences any other changes in bleeding, such as:

  • Heavy periods with blood clots
  • Periods that last several days longer than usual
  • Spotting between periods
  • Spotting after sex
  • Periods that occur close together

Any of these symptoms can be a result of other issues within the body not associated with perimenopause.

What Are My Perimenopause Treatment Options?

Perimenopause is a natural occurrence within the female body, but treatment is available for symptoms that get in the way of daily functioning. Doctors recommend improving general health and well-being through regular exercise and following a healthy diet, but other treatment options are available.

  • Hormone therapy: Hot flashes are one of the biggest concerns. Hormone therapy, in the form of pills, skin patches, gels or creams, can often alleviate the symptoms.
  • Vaginal estrogen: A vaginal estrogen cream applied directly to the tissue can help alleviate vaginal dryness, discomfort during intercourse, and some urinary problems.
  • Antidepressants: Antidepressants can help alleviate both mood swings and hot flashes.

Perimenopause occurs in all women, as early as their 30s or anytime throughout their 40s. If symptoms are mild, perimenopause may go unnoticed. Perimenopause has officially ended when a women has missed 12 consecutive periods, known as menopause. The most common symptoms of perimenopause include hot flashes, irregular periods, a decrease in fertility, nausea, and changes in sexual function.

Perimenopause is a natural occurrence within the female body. However, it is still important to consult your doctor when these changes occur. Specialists at AZ Gyn can provide early screening for women with low estrogen and treatment for perimenopause. AZ Gyn’s Gynecology Services and Minimally Invasive Procedures assist women towards attaining optimal health, including the treatment of perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms, enabling relief through compassionate, personalized care.

How Long Does Menopause Last on Average - Arizona Gynecology Consultants

How Long Does Menopause Last on Average?

This entry was posted in Menopause and tagged , on by .

The menopausal transition, or simply “menopause,” is a normal part of female aging. Once you start the transition, you’ll probably want to know exactly how long symptoms will last.

While every woman is different, here’s what to expect on average.

About Menopause

Estrogen Levels During Menopause Ages Graphic - Arizona Gynecology ConsultantsAll women experience menopause, with several different symptoms.The symptoms vary from woman to woman, and menopause is as unique a journey as the woman herself.

Menopause symptoms may include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Chills
  • Sleep problems / insomnia
  • Mood Swings / irritability
  • Pain during sex / vaginal dryness
  • Depression
  • Dry skin, dry eyes or dry mouth
  • Urinary urgency (a pressing need to urinate more frequently)

In few cases, women don’t have trouble with these symptoms. Once the menopausal transition is complete, you will no longer have to worry about periods or getting pregnant.

Hot Flashes

For most women, menopause is a relief that feels freeing in many ways. Getting through the transition, however, can be trying.

Knowing about how long your symptoms will last can help you focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. While you’re going through abrupt hot flashes and night sweats that keep you awake at night as well as irritability from lack of sleep, knowing that you’re just X amount of days from it being over can ease your mind.

 

Related Reading: Identify the Signs of Menopause [Infographic]

 

While there is no guarantee of exactly how long the transition will last, you can get a good idea of where you are on the journey by understanding the process and studying an average timeline.

The Average Timeline for Menopause

The menopause age range varies by more than a decade. The average age is 51, but menopause can start in women from their mid-40s to late 50s. Most women experience the menopause stage in this age range, while some report symptoms into their 60s.

Natural menopause happens in three stages:

  • Perimenopause
  • Menopause
  • Postmenopause

Sometimes perimenopause is confused with menopause. Perimenopause is when a woman starts to have hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. This can start as early as the 30’s or as late as the 60’s. This is considered either early or premature menopause and late menopause, and can occur for a variety of reasons, such as surgeries or hormonal changes.

Some women in perimenopause may also have the following symptoms:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Worsening of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Irregular periods or skipping periods
  • Periods that are heavier or lighter than usual

Additional symptoms may include:

  • Racing heart
  • Headaches
  • Joint and muscle aches and pains
  • Changes in libido (sex drive)
  • Difficulty concentrating, memory lapses (often temporary)
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss or thinning

These symptoms are normal as part of the loss of estrogen production. However, if these are new symptoms after starting perimenopause, consult your doctor in order to rule out other health issues.

Menopause that occurs before the age of 45, regardless of the cause, is called early menopause. Menopause that occurs at 40 or younger is considered premature menopause. Perimenopausal symptoms and age will be as individual as each woman. Talk to your doctor if you’re not sure whether you’re beginning the menopausal transition. 

Contributing Factors 

Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) is another cause of premature menopause. With POI, younger women under 40, who have occasional  or no periods, and elevated levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), will have fewer eggs in their ovaries. This means lower estrogen levels as well and can cause bone density issues.

Happy womenAccording to the SWAN (Study of Women Across the Nation) study, smoking, either as a current smoker or former smoker, can also cause early onset of perimenopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats, by at least two years. Being overweight, stressed, depressed, or anxious can also start the ball rolling early. Ethnicity also plays a factor. African American women have a longer period of hot flashes – almost 11 years, while Japanese and Chinese women had half the time of dealing with hot flashes.

How Long is Menopause?

The perimenopausal stage can last from 10 months to four years on average, but has been known to last up to 10 years. It involves the body gradually decreasing in estrogen production until the last year or two, when estrogen levels drop dramatically. Perimenopause officially ends when a woman does not have her period for 12 consecutive months. 

Stages and symptoms of menopause

The woman is now at menopause. This is a point in time, rather than a period of time. The period of time after menopause is called postmenopause. Perimenopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats may continue for another few months or even years after menopause has been reached. 

Other symptoms that may continue are sleep problems, cognitive issues, mood changes and muscle and joint pain. Vaginal dryness is a symptom that will continue and tends to get worse with age. Although, less than 30% of women experience it during perimenopause and only half experience it in postmenopause.

So, how long does menopause last? From the start of perimenopause to the final cessation of all menopausal symptoms, the average transition takes between two and 10 years. There are some women who go through the process more quickly or more slowly than the median time.

If you experience early or late menopause, you may need to add or subtract a year or two to this average timeline. Every woman should rely on medical professionals to assess symptoms, estimate the duration and prescribe treatments for symptom relief.

Do You Have Early or Late Menopause?

Figuring out if you’re going through the transition early or late can help you gain a better understanding of how long menopause will last. If you start having irregular periods in your mid-40s, you may be experiencing early or premature menopause.Menopause Infographic

Heavy bleeding, spotting, a period after a year of no periods, or periods that are noticeably longer or shorter than normal can all signal early menopause, especially in combination with other common menopausal symptoms. 

If you are 55 or older and still haven’t noticed menopause symptoms, your doctor may diagnose you with late-onset menopause.

Late menopause may actually have some health benefits, while early menopause could potentially cause problems. During menopause, the production of estrogen and progesterone by the ovaries declines. In early-onset menopause, this cessation may cause problems such as osteoporosis. The longer your ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone, the longer you can avoid osteoporosis.

If you’re still having periods in your late 50s and 60s, see your doctor. Each woman’s reproductive system is different, so don’t be alarmed until you’ve spoken to a doctor.

Treating Menopause Symptoms

You may experience one or several symptoms, or hardly any symptoms at all. You may not notice perimenopausal symptoms until you’ve almost reached the menopause phase. Your entire transition could finish in just a few years, or could last longer than a decade.

Everyone is unique, and there is no concrete answer. It takes seeing a primary doctor to evaluate your symptoms, locate where you are on the general timeline, and estimate how much longer you will have to put up with symptoms.

obgynWhile you are combating symptoms for an unknown period of time, look into common forms of relief. If you have medical conditions exacerbating the symptoms of menopause, such as arthritis, chronic pain, anxiety or depression, your doctor can help address these issues to potentially reduce menopause symptoms.

Menopause is a normal part of life, and several tried-and-true treatment options exist to help control and tolerate common symptoms. You can maintain your desired lifestyle while experiencing menopause with a tailored treatment plan. We have expert women’s health services, if you are seeking a gynecologist in Phoenix. Talk to us about your symptoms and concerns, especially if your perimenopausal symptoms negatively affect your quality of life. We’re here to help.

Identify The Signs And Symptoms Of Menopause - Arizona Gynecology Consultants

Clinical and Holistic Remedies for Menopause

Have you entered pre-menopause? Or are you already dealing with menopause?

Looking for ways to deal with the onslaught of changes your body is dealing with?

To illustrate the signs and symptoms of menopause, we have taken the time to produce an expansive, helpful infographic that features not only signs that menopause may be starting, but also clinical and holistic ways of alleviating these symptoms.

Signs Symptoms and Holistic Clinical Remedies for Menopause Infographic - Arizona Gynecology

Learn Even More About Menopause

What is Menopause - Arizona Gynecology Consultants

What Is Menopause?

Menopause is a gradual process that eventually leads to the cessation of menstrual periods. Once a woman becomes menopausal, ovarian functions cease, and she will no longer be able to have children.

Menopause generally occurs in the early 50s, but some women can experience it as young as the 30s or as old as the 60s. There is currently no way to predict when a woman will experience menopause. The time at which a woman begins having menstrual periods is not an indication of when menopause will occur.

Women experience menopause differently, and it can be an emotional experience. The loss of the ability to have children will hit some women harder than others. A woman who has already given birth may not consider it as devastating, but a woman who has never had children and who experienced menopause earlier than usual may find the news crushing.

Symptoms of Menopause

Menopause generally includes three stages. The perimenopause stage is the onset of menopause, during which various negative symptoms may manifest.

The second stage is menopause, during which menstrual periods cease. The last stage is the postmenopausal stage, and women who have completely experienced menopause will sometimes need to make adjustments to this new reality.

First Stage: Perimenopause

Perimenopause can last for quite a long time and generally entails symptoms that prepare the woman’s body for menopause. During the years between the onset of perimenopause and menopause itself, women generally experience:

  • Low estrogen levels
  • Decreased sexual interest
  • Worsened premenstrual symptoms
  • Fatigue
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Breast tenderness
  • Hot flashes

Perimenopause lasts for about four to five years or until menopause occurs, which is when the ovaries stop releasing eggs altogether.

Second Stage: Menopause

The full onset of menopause refers to the cessation of menstrual cycles for one full year. During this time, women may experience a wide range of possible effects, and may develop other medical conditions as a result.

For example, some women develop osteoporosis or heart disease during menopause. Many women also experience:

  • Mood changes
  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal discomfort
  • Urinary problems

Doctors can provide customized treatment to individual patients to address their unique symptoms.

Final Stage: Post-Menopause

The term “postmenopausal” simply refers to women who have already reached menopause. Every woman will experience menopause and the postmenopausal stage differently.

Hormonal imbalances can lead to the appearance of more body hair in some women, as testosterone production continues while estrogen production diminishes. Some women experience weight fluctuations and changes in skin texture.

External Causes Of Menopause

Although every woman will inevitably experience menopause, some women experience it at earlier ages due to external influences. Some medical conditions and diseases may require surgeries that cause menopause to begin very soon thereafter. For example, a woman who must have a hysterectomy will experience menopause immediately afterward.

Women who experience menopause in this manner often report more significant symptoms than women who experience menopause naturally. However, some women who undergo surgical removal of the ovaries do not report any symptoms afterward.

 

Related Reading: How Long Does Menopause Last on Average?

 

Ovarian Complications

Some women will experience menopause early due to problems with the ovaries. If a woman develops ovarian cysts or ovarian cancer, her doctor may recommend surgical removal, which will then spur the onset of menopausal symptoms. Typical menopause entails a full year of cessation of ovarian function, so surgical removal of the ovaries will lead to menopause.

About 1 percent of all women experience premature ovarian failure – or ovarian failure before 40. Doctors cannot predict when this will occur and do not know for certain why it happens; many researchers suspect genetic links and autoimmune diseases as contributing factors.

Cancer Treatment

Women who develop some cancers and undergo radiation treatment and chemotherapy may also experience menopause sooner than expected. Depending on the location of the cancer and the treatments, an ovulating woman can experience menopause due to interference from these treatments.

Menopause symptoms may start during or immediately after cancer treatment, but some women do not report experiencing such symptoms for quite a long time after completing cancer treatment.

What Is Menopause: Treatment Options

Although some external factors can cause menopause early, naturally occurring menopause is a fact for every woman. While menopause is not a medical condition and does not require treatment, it can still produce negative symptoms for some women. Doctors can prescribe different medications to handle hot flashes, mood swings, cramps and other issues. Some women benefit from hormonal treatment.

Doses of estrogen can help make up for lost natural estrogen production. Women who experience vaginal dryness, unwanted hair growth and hot flashes can find relief with hormone therapy.

However, doctors are often hesitant to prescribe these options unless necessary, due to their links to increased risk of stroke, heart disease and breast cancer. Estrogen and progestin can increase these risks in different ways, and estrogen-based hormone therapy can lead to the development of endometrial cancer.

See Infographic on Remedies for Menopause

Finding the Right Solution for You

Every woman experiences menopause differently, and it’s vital for every woman to know the best options for handling the potentially unpleasant side effects of the different stages of menopause.

The providers who work with Arizona Gynecology Consultants have experience handling all aspects of menopause and postmenopausal health, so contact us for more information about resources in your area.

What Is Abnormal Uterine Bleeding - Arizona Gynecology Consultants

What Is Abnormal Uterine Bleeding?

No two women will have the exact same menstruation cycle, but when a woman’s period schedule falls outside of certain boundaries, physicians consider it abnormal.

Abnormal uterine bleeding may sometimes only cause inconsistency with a woman’s menstrual cycle, but other symptoms are also possible and can cause greater discomfort, such as excessive bleeding and cramping. Women should understand how to manage abnormal uterine bleeding and know the options for doing so.

Causes of Abnormal Uterine Bleeding

Almost all abnormal uterine bleeding cases happen because of hormone problems. The menstrual cycle revolves around different hormones in the bloodstream, so inconsistencies or irregularities with hormones can result in abnormal uterine bleeding.

A typical adult menstrual cycle is 21 to 35 days long, while a typical teen cycle is 21 to 45 days long. Each period generally lasts for four to six days. Women with inconsistent hormone levels may have periods more frequently or far less frequently.

Abnormal uterine bleeding can also occur when a woman doesn’t ovulate. During the menstrual cycle, one of the ovaries releases a mature egg in a process called ovulation. When a woman doesn’t ovulate, it throws off the hormone balance in the bloodstream and can cause sudden bleeding. Failure to ovulate can also be a sign of other uterine problems like fibroids or ovarian cysts.

Other uterine issues such as fibroids can cause excessive uterine bleeding, and some women may mistake a miscarriage for an abnormal uterine bleeding incident.

Doctors will perform a series of tests to determine the cause of the abnormal uterine bleeding and address it appropriately. Possible tests include:

  • Blood analysis
  • Pelvic examination
  • Ultrasound
  • Other imaging methods

In some cases, a doctor may insist on a biopsy to detect the presence of cancerous cells that may be causing abnormal uterine bleeding.

Symptoms

The first telltale sign of an abnormal uterine bleeding problem is the timing of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Periods happening fewer than 21 days apart or more than 35 days apart are abnormal.

Periods lasting more than seven days are another warning sign. If your menstrual schedule aligns with any of these variables, schedule a visit with your gynecologist as soon as possible.

Menstrual timing issues also present other problems. A woman who experiences period symptoms sooner than every 21 days must deal with menstrual cramping, fatigue and bleeding more often than a woman on a typical schedule.

Some women experience significant cramping and sudden heavy bleeding as the result of hormonal imbalance. Doctors typically define excessive bleeding as menstrual bleeding that produces blood clots or completely soaks through tampons or menstrual pads each hour for two hours or more at a time.

Women may experience sudden irregularities in their menstrual cycles that go away on their own relatively quickly. However, once abnormal uterine bleeding issue becomes a pattern, it can pose serious health problems. If you experience abnormal menstrual symptoms for three cycles in a row, contact your doctor.

Treating Abnormal Uterine Bleeding

Depending on the cause of the bleeding, a doctor may suggest one of several possible treatment methods. When hormone irregularities cause abnormal uterine bleeding, progestin pills or daily birth control pills can be helpful.

Some women receive birth control prescriptions simply to manage excessive bleeding and cramping. Some types of hormonal birth control can offset other uncomfortable menstrual symptoms as well. Balancing the hormone levels in the bloodstream helps regulate the menstrual cycle and keeps discomfort minimal.

Some women benefit from a short-term course of high doses of estrogen. This technique helps women who experience dangerously heavy bleeding.

A levonorgestrel IUD is another option, and this device releases a hormone similar to progesterone into the bloodstream. This type of IUD will limit menstrual bleeding and prevent pregnancy.

In rare cases, estrogen blockers can resolve abnormal uterine bleeding problems. Medications that stop menstruation and estrogen production can have significant side effects and are only acceptable methods of treatment in special cases. For women who suffer from endometriosis or other uterine conditions, surgery may be the only effective solution.

Regular Checkups and Screenings Are Important

A doctor may not be able to completely identify the cause of an abnormal uterine bleeding issue at first. In some cases, a wait-and-see approach is necessary to monitor a patient’s cycle and determine the best course of treatment. A doctor may recommend an anti-inflammatory medication to manage menstrual cramping and bleeding until the root cause is more discernible.

Very young women often experience irregularities with their menstrual cycle that stop after several cycles. Women in menopause should expect their periods to eventually stop entirely.

Contact your doctor if you have any concerns about your menstrual symptoms or schedule. Maintaining a regular schedule of checkups and screenings and verifying your concerns with your doctor are crucial.

Treatment at All Stages of Life

At Arizona Gynecology Consultants, we understand that women’s needs change from adolescence to retirement. Our providers are experienced in all aspects of gynecological health and focus on the needs of each individual patient.

Abnormal uterine bleeding is incredibly common and can happen for many reasons. The providers we work with can help identify the cause of an abnormal uterine bleeding problem and recommend an effective treatment.