The time before menopause is called perimenopause. It may begin several years before your last menstrual period.
Signs of perimenopause include:
Eventually your periods will become much less frequent, until they stop completely.
Along with changes in your periods, physical changes in your reproductive tract occur as well.
AGING CHANGES AND THEIR EFFECTS
Menopause is a normal part of a woman's aging process. Most women experience menopause around age 50, though it can occur before that age. The usual age range is 45 to 55.
As hormone levels fall, other changes occur in the reproductive system, including:
Other common changes include:
Hormone therapy with estrogen or progesterone, alone or in combination, may help menopause symptoms such as hot flashes or vaginal dryness and pain with intercourse. Hormone therapy has risks, so it is not for every woman. Discuss the risks and benefits of hormone therapy with your provider.
To help manage problems such as painful sexual intercourse, use a lubricant during sexual intercourse. Vaginal moisturizers are available without a prescription. These can help with vaginal and vulvar discomfort due to the drying and thinning of tissues. Applying topical estrogen inside the vagina may help thicken the vaginal tissues and increase moisture and sensitivity. Your provider can tell you if any of these measures is right for you.
Getting regular exercise, eating healthy foods, and staying involved in activities with friends and loved ones can help the aging process go more smoothly.
Other aging changes to expect:
Aging changes in the female reproductive system result mainly from changing hormone levels. One clear sign of aging occurs when your menstrual periods stop permanently. This is known as menopause.
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