I went to a ‘Menopause The Musical’ a few years ago: utterly hysterical. It may only be funny onstage. I have seen two patients this week in their 40s who have all the symptoms. . . including a little denial.
Menopause usually occurs between ages 45 and 55, with the “textbook age” being 51. It is when the ovaries stop producing eggs and menstrual periods end. Before menstrual periods come a complete stop, there are years of
- irregular menstrual periods (more or less blood loss at differing intervals),
- hot flashes which last for 2-4 minutes (frequently causing sweating followed by chills and shivering),
- sleep disturbances,
- mood changes, and
- dry vaginal tissues (read this: pain with wiping or with intercourse).
Menopause is a diagnosis made clinically, meaning lab work not needed. If a woman is older than age 45 with the above symptoms, she is in the peri-menopausal period until no menstrual period for 12 months. Then the word “menopause” fits. If she is under age 45 she may benefit from some blood work to make sure she isn’t pregnant or has a thyroid problem.
There are lots of treatments to help with the symptoms of menopause. Your doctor can discuss these with you. Alcohol is not suggested. Studies have shown that alcohol increases the frequency of hot flashes and night sweats compared to patients who only drink once a month.
Hope this helps.