Menopause can be defined by three distinct stages: perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. "In recent years, it has been helpful to have more celebrities open up about their menopause journey," says Crystal Berry-Roberts, MD, MBA, FACOG, Ob/Gyn at ARC South OB. "This has been impactful as women are seeing their faces and hearing their stories - they moreover know they are not alone and the abnormal that can come with the hormonal changes does not have to be something they just suffer through. Celebrities and women from all socieconomic backgrounds are looking for answers, support, and solutions through this change of life."
What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause is the transitional time around menopause. Perimenopause literally means "around menopause." It's marked by changes in the menstrual cycle, along with other physical and emotional symptoms. This time can last two to eight years.
What is menopause?
Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of your menstrual cycles, usually in your late 40s or early 50s. It's diagnosed after you've gone 12 months without a menstrual period. This is the conclusion of the natural transition in a woman's reproductive life. It's the point where progesterone and estrogen production decrease permanently to low levels.
What is postmenopause?
Postmenopause is the time after menopause when you haven't experienced a period for over a year. In postmenopause, you will no longer have periods, but some women do continue to experience symptoms of menopause. Once you enter postmenopause, you're in this stage for the rest of your life.
Common symptoms of menopause
In the months or years leading up to menopause (perimenopause) and during menopause, you might experience some of these signs and symptoms:
- Irregular periods
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Sleep problems
- Mood swings
- Weight gain and slowed metabolism
- Thinning hair/irregular hair growth
- Dry skin
- Loss of breast fullness
- Relaxation of the pelvic muscles
- Sexual dysfunction, such as low libido and low estrogen
- Bone loss (osteoporosis)
"The physical and emotional symptoms of menopause may disrupt your sleep, lower your energy, or affect your emotional health," says Dr. Berry-Roberts. "Fortunately, there are many effective treatments available to help you manage the symptoms, from lifestyle adjustments, herbal supplements, plant-based options, to hormone therapy."
What menopause treatment/care does ARC offer?
- HRT (also known as hormone therapy, menopausal hormone therapy, and estrogen replacement therapy) is the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
- Non-hormonal treatment
- Estrogen alternatives
- Bioidentical hormones
- Alternative medicine
- Vaginal atrophy
What are the possible complications of menopause?
- Heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease
- Urinary incontinence
- Changes in sexual function/libido
- Weight gain
"While menopause is often associated with various physical and emotional challenges, there can be some positive aspects to this natural transition in a woman's life," says Dr. Berry-Roberts. "For instance, some women do not experience symptoms that are impactful on their day-to-day activities, some feel an increased level of self-confidence, and some are able to embrace the post-menopausal years as a time for personal growth, improving their personal fitness, and feeling a sense of empowerment beyond the hormonal changes."
Make an appointment
If you want to discuss your menopause symptoms with a doctor, you can make an appointment online with an ARC Ob/Gyn with MyChart, by visiting the ARC Ob/Gyn web page, or by calling the clinic most convenient to you.