Menopause is a point in time 12 months after a woman's last menstrual period. The menopausal transition that leads to it begins in a person’s 40s or 50sand typically lasts about seven years but can last as long as 14 years. The transition to menopause may occur earlier due to medical treatment, removal of ovaries or family history. Menopause is a transition that occurs over months and years and is characterized by two stages: perimenopause, when the ovaries begin to make less estrogen and gradually stop working, and postmenopause, during which menopausal symptoms diminish or go away.
The menopausal transition affects each person uniquely. During perimenopause, people may experience hot flashes, night sweats, irregular periods, decreased fertility, vaginal dryness, decreased sex drive, thinning of bones and hair, incontinence, trouble sleeping and mood changes. During postmenopause, the ovaries produce less estrogen and stop releasing eggs. Those in postmenopause may be at risk for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, urinary incontinence, weight gain and cancer.
To maintain health during menopause doctors suggest:
- Maintain sufficient levels of calcium and vitamin D.
- Eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Get quality sleep.
- Don’t smoke.
- Get at least 30 to 45 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a day. Talk to your physician before starting an exercise or nutrition plan.
- Schedule regular checkups and talk to your doctor about how often you need to have mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, lipid levels testing and other screenings.
Learn more about the menopause journey in this Blue Cross Virtual Well-BeingSM webinar. You can also sign up for future employer-focused and general interest webinars here, where you’ll find past sessions and resources. Related:
- Understanding the Causes of Urinary Incontinence
- The Oral Health and Well-Being Connection
- Friendships and Longevity
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