Potential Complications During Menopause
Menopause is a major turning point in a woman’s life when periods cease and the fertile years of her life come to an end. Often people imagine hot flashes and other symptoms when menopause complications are mentioned; however, these symptoms usually appear before menopause as the body transitions into this stage. True complications for menopausal women can range from serious, such as fractures due to osteoporosis, to frustrations that negatively affect quality of life. For the sake of clarity, we will separate complications into perimenopause and during menopause.
Perimenopause certainly gets a bad rap for the symptoms it causes, but it is a natural bodily process that every woman will experience. Some women have little to no side effects besides the irregularity of their periods, while others may have more intense side effects. Generally, there are no serious complications during perimenopause and medication is not needed.
You should not be afraid to seek help and treatment from your gynecologist if you are struggling with symptoms, especially bleeding. A variety of treatments are available, including hormone therapy, which can make the perimenopausal period more tolerable and alleviate specific symptoms. Typical side effects during perimenopause can include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Vaginal dryness
- Irregular periods, which may be very heavy or unusually light
- Depression, irritability and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome
- Diminished sex drive
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
A woman is considered to have reached menopause when it has been a full 12 months since her last period. The loss of estrogen due to reaching menopause can cause complications such as osteoporosis, which gradually can weaken bones. This complication can have serious effects and make bones easier to fracture and slower to heal. Some of the most common menopause complications are urinary problems. Urinary incontinence that is sudden and uncontrollable can have a devastating impact on quality of life, but there are treatments available.
Unfortunately, just because menopause has occurred does not mean all of your perimenopausal symptoms will subside. Some, such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness, can get worse for a few years after you’ve entered menopause. Weight gain is also on the list of menopause complications that can be a holdover from perimenopause. Your risk of heart disease, which is the No. 1 cause of death for women, increases after menopause has begun.
What You Can Do To Reduce Problems
To reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis, take vitamin D and calcium or eat a diet rich in foods containing it. Heart disease risk can be lowered by eating healthy, getting regular exercise and eliminating smoking. Some complications and symptoms of menopause usually can be alleviated with hormone therapy prescribed by your doctor, but long-term hormone therapy has its own risks that must be considered. A healthy lifestyle offers you the best chance of keeping complications to a minimum. If you have any concerns regarding your menopause, scheduling an appointment with your OB/GYN should be your first step.
Looking for an experienced OB/GYN in the Covington, Louisiana, area? Contact Dr. Jill Gibson’s women’s clinic today.
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