5 things you should know about menopause

“Menopause is a completely natural process,” says Dr. Silvia Bicalho, an OB/GYN at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “Every woman has to go through it, so considering when it will happen is much more important than considering why.”

  • Menopause normally begins when a woman is between 45 and 55 years of age.

Every woman will eventually go through menopause, so why not be prepared with the right information? Here are five things every woman should know.

  • Menopause does not necessarily have a medical purpose, but is an unavoidable part of the aging process.

“This is a normal age range, but if you are experiencing symptoms of menopause much earlier or have reached age 55 without experiencing menopause, consult your physician to make sure no other medical conditions are present.”

  • A healthy lifestyle, including diet and exercise, could potentially help minimize symptoms.

“Every individual experiences symptoms differently,” says Dr. Bicalho.

“Some women have no symptoms at all, and some women have very severe symptoms. These occur due to fluctuation of hormones and can include hot flashes, sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, weight gain or loss, sexual dysfunction, hair loss or facial hair growth and, in more serious cases, heart palpitations. While a healthy lifestyle can help women experience fewer or less severe symptoms, each woman’s body goes through this transition differently. Severe symptoms can also be managed with medications, but consult your physician to discuss what is right for you.”

  • There is no way to know exactly how long menopause will last.

“By definition, menopause is reached once a woman has not had a period for an entire year,” says Dr. Bicalho. “As far as how long symptoms last, this can vary for each individual. It is possible for symptoms to be completely absent or for them to last longer than a year.”

  • Emotional care is just as important as physical care.

“I tell women to be patient with their symptoms,” says Dr. Bicalho. “Menopause is a time of transition, and it’s important to take extra good care of yourself throughout this period. Emotional support is essential even before menopause, as well, as no woman knows exactly when it will begin.”

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