About 6000 women enter menopause every day and millions more are in the ten-year window around menopause called perimenopause. During my nearly 20 years at Harvard where I ran the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology at Harvard’s Beth Israel Hospital, and more recently as Director of the Complicated Menopause Program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with and treat thousands of women for their menopause issues. Many of my patients came in feeling frustrated and confused.
But I found that when I helped women understand the issues they were facing, it helped them gain clarity over the contradictions, misunderstandings and negative press out there about menopause. I want to help you become more confident about where you are in this transition, more aware of what is possible to achieve, and more certain about how to achieve it.
In this post, I want to tell you about What You’ve Never Been Told About Menopause.
1. What is Menopause?
Menopause is defined as one year after your last period. The average age in the United States is 51 years. The range of menopause onset is between ages 40 and 55. Menopause before age 40 is called premature menopause. I have some patients who go into menopause in their early 20s. If both your ovaries are removed by surgery, that is called surgical menopause, no matter what age you are.
2. Perimenopause is the window leading up to menopause. Hormones begin to go out of balance and some symptoms may start. Perimenopause begins up to 10 years before menopause. That means that if you enter menopause at age 51, you may begin experiencing symptoms as early as age 41. So those occasional feelings of warmth, those suddenly whacky periods, those nights of poor sleep, those pangs of anxiety and that crazy brain fog may all be due to perimenopausal symptoms.
3. If you go through menopause before age 48 and do not go on estrogen, your risk of Alzheimer’s disease increases by nearly 70%.
4. If you have had a hysterectomy (your uterus removed) and you go on estrogen without progesterone, your risk of breast cancer goes down by 23%.
5. Women in perimenopause to postmenopause sleep less, have more symptoms from their insomnia and are more than twice as likely to use a prescription medication to help them sleep as women who are premenopausal.
If you would like to gain more information on menopause and discover ways to make your life healthier and more vibrant, go to www.FreeMenopauseHelp.com and get a free subscription to My Menopause Magazine in the Apple Newsstand and on Google Play.
If you would like to join me for a deeper dive into Menopause and Sleep join me for a Twitter Chat November 18th at 1pm Eastern. Please mark your calendars now. I look forward to sharing lots of important information with you.