Menopause

Menopause

Menopause is ovarian failure. The ovaries lose the ability to produce estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Estrogen and progesterone fall to nearly undetectable levels.  Some testosterone production is taken over by the adrenal glands, so that blood levels in some women are maintained.

Menopause occurs at the average age of 51. Stress, illness and certain medications, especially chemotherapy, lead to premature menopause. Blood tests reveal low estrogen and high FSH (a pituitary hormone) levels. Menses diminish and become irregular, and eventually cease.

Symptoms of hormone deficiency in women are many:

  1. Hot flashes, night sweats, clammy skin- most typical and sometimes the earliest symptoms of menopause
  2. Irritability, anger
  3. Difficulty concentrating
  4. Anxiety
  5. Depression, sometimes a sense of impending death
  6. Impaired memory (#2-6 represent changes in emotion and cognition often leading to psychiatric evaluation or the prescription of psychiatric medications such as anti-depressants or sedatives.  The simple addition of hormones may eliminate these symptoms.)
  7. Insomnia
  8. Loss of interest in or desire for sex
  9. Vaginal dryness and pain with intercourse
  10. Urinary tract and vaginal infections, due to thinning and atrophy of vaginal tissues- five times as common after menopause
  11. Urinary incontinence
  12. Fatigue, lack of energy
  13. Weight gain
  14. Muscle and joint pains
  15. Dry and wrinkled skin
  16. Hair loss
  17. Lightheadedness
  18. Numbness or tingling of the extremities
  19. Osteoporosis symptoms: loss of height, spine, hip or wrist fracture