Menopause is a natural biological process in which a woman stops having a menstrual cycle. After menopause has occurred, the woman won’t be able to get pregnant anymore.
Most women will experience menopause around the age of 51. However, some women may have menopause earlier or later in life. Doctors consider menopause premature if it occurs before the age of 40. Premature menopause may increase the risk of complications for patients.
A woman’s menstrual cycle is controlled by specific reproductive hormones that stimulate ovulation and the menstruation. When the body lowers its production of these hormones, the woman stops having regular menstrual cycles. A woman officially reaches menopause when she has had no menstrual cycle for 12 months.
In the months leading up to menopause, women often experience irregular periods. Other common symptoms include:
Some of these symptoms, such as vaginal dryness, may continue even after the transition is complete and the patient is no longer having a menstrual cycle.
Women may experience disruptive symptoms during and after menopause. In some cases, the symptoms may be severe enough to warrant treatment. Depending on the situation, Dr. Pollard may prescribe hormone therapy and/or antidepressants. Some patients may also need medication to prevent osteoporosis.
Going through menopause before the age of 40 may raise the risk of certain complications. Without the protective benefits of estrogen, women may be at a higher risk of osteoporosis, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, cataracts, gum disease, and tooth loss. For this reason, Dr. Pollard may recommend hormone therapy to women with premature menopause.
Getting pregnant after menopause is unlikely. Without a healthy ovulation, it isn’t possible for a woman to conceive. However, in the months leading up to menopause when a woman is still having irregular periods, pregnancy may be possible. To prevent pregnancy, women should use birth control during this time.
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