15 answers

Menopause - What Should I Expect?

I know I am still young (36), but I was wondering at what age women can start the "change-of-life" and what they experience, especially their early experiences. My mother had a total hysterectomy prior to menopause so I am unable to ask her about her menopause and the symptoms.

I've never had a child from my own loins (not from lack of trying) and had my first period at age 10. Previously my periods have been pretty regular (every 30-35 days for 7 days straight, with 2-3 heavy days in the middle). In the last couple years, the periods have been been shorter - lasting only 5 days with about 1 heavy day. Last month it started early at 24 days, and this month it has been 40 + days.

Over the last 10 years, I've progressively have been warmer, to the point where my husband says I'm an oven or a natural heater. But fortunately I have not suffered bouts of unbearable heat as I've heard women describe. The last time I used birth control pill was about 3-4 years ago was only for 2 months to regulate my periods when it never stopped for several months. I haven't used birth control regularly for about 13 years. I do not believe I am pregnant, I have no symptoms other than the absence of /or very late period.

So ladies (& guys too), what can I expect? What age did you, sister, mother, gmother, etc... start menopause and what were the early symptoms? How long did these symptoms last and when did hormonal changes settle down and stop changing?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you for the answers everyone! I did learn some things and now have some references to which I can refer to. I'll be making a doctors appointment soon to see if I really am starting the change or if something else is out of whack. Thank you for your help!

More Answers

Hi A.
My older sister and her friends were talking about this one night and they recommended a book called: "The change before the change". I haven't read it yet, but they said when I turn 40 I should. Pre-menopause symptoms can start in late 30s early 40s. I do know of a friend who started at 38. I agree w/ the other comments that you should talk to your Dr about the symptoms, but I'd also look into that book. Another excellent resource I've found is half.com I've found books for under $1 that are gently used. Good luck to you.

Wow, it's so different from woman to woman. Here's my one tidbit: If you get estrogen-related migraines down the road, go on non-stop birth control pills, which completely control the crazy estrogen fluctuations. Second, start taking magnesium (a vitamin). Third, get a presciption for the days in which the migraines come anyway.

A.,
I came across a product several years ago that is supposed to regulate hormones naturally. It is wild yam cream. You can get it in any health store. If I were you, I would look up estrogen dominance on the internet and see if you have the same symptoms. I started using the cream about 9 years ago. My husband also likes it when I don't forget to use it regularly. I'm usually happier, and seem better balanced

Good morning, A.! I began experiencing menopause in my 40's and had a hysterectomy at age 50 because the doc suspected endometriosis. At any rate, the symptoms you describe sound very much like those I experienced--erratic and shorter cycles, although still uncomfortable. One of my aunts went through menopause in her late 30's. While that experience is not as common, it certainly happens to quite a few women.

I recommend that you seek medical advice but that you also consider options like bio-identical hormones, and of course, good calcium (with Vitamins K & D) supplementation as well. If you are in the onset stages of menopause, it will be even more important for you to guard your bones! Take that advice seriously from one, who already has osteoporosis.

There is a practice in Colorado Springs, which I would highly recommend. Judith Chandler from that office has counseled with me and in the past placed me on bio-identical hormones. This office has a great reputation for their ability to diagnosis many medical conditions after other docs have given up.

http://juetersonke.com/index.cfm/PageID/4208

All the best,
T.

Hi A.,
I was 39 and post-menopause. My mother went through this as early as 35. The doctor told me that its common to have it similar to the age your mother goes through it. It's a bummer you can not find out. My mother had 1 hot flash and I only had one. It was in church and I remeber telling my husband i was so hot.. I wanted to take my clothes off. Just one hot flash. I am very lucky. Some women go early than usual. You can check with your doctor. I think it's just a urine or blood test, I don't remember.

I don't know much about menopause. However, there are a lot of online resources for you to google. The best information you are going to get is from your physician. Menopause happened to my Mom in her late thirties. She was moody and pretty much unbareable. She did not take any hormones or get any traditional treatment. Due to her emotional ups and downs, I know that I will take whatever hormones that are needed in order to avoid having my family deal with what I went through. Her emotional yo-yo'ing evened out maybe 10 years later. Like I said earlier, talk to your doctor. They will be able to give you the best and accurate information.

Menopause starts at different times for different women and each womans symptoms are usually specific to her. There are symptoms that are typical for most women, but your experience will probably be specific to you. I think the best thing you can do is see a good gyn that understands hormones. Get your hormone levels checked, there are things that can be done without the use of "synthetic" hormones to help you stay in balance. I am 48 and had my hormones checked recently. I was found to be deficient in DHEA the hormone that makes all the other hormones work properly. I have begun taking that and things seem to be going back to normal. (no more hot flashes and less night sweats, a side benefit is that I finally have a desire for sex for the first time in my life)

We have similar situations as far as nothing to base menopause on. I have heard that the earlier you start your period the later you finish and the later you start the earlier you finish. I don't know how much truth there is to that. Most women can experience signs of menopause for years before they know what is going on. At 40 I was begining to experience hormonal changes. After visiting with my chiropractor and answering several questions I do believe I am 'perimenopausal'. Get your hormone levels checked and if they are out of wack choose a doctor that will help you get them back on track without a bunch of chemicals. Also pick up Christine Northrup's book The Wisdom of Menopause. This is a step by step guide for you and will also be very helpful for your husband.

I am in my late thirties and currently going through the change. The first thing I have experienced was erratic periods. Some month's I would have extremely heavy periods and sometimes I would have 2 periods in the same month 18 days apart, I have also skipped periods entirely. When I was 33 my doctor had me on a low dosage of estrogen, which was also a birth control pill. I am currently seeking help to get my hormones in balance the natural way, because I don't like the things that drugs do to me. The second thing I started experiencing is hot flashes. Now I have had a dramatic loss of sleep. If I were you I think I would probably go to a doctor to get checked out. Good Luck

A doctor told me that the best predictor of when you can expect menopause is, what age did your mother go through menopause. In my mother's case, that was at 50. I'd love to get it over with, to tell the truth, but at 48 am not showing much symptoms or, to be more specific, my possible symptoms ARE the symptoms of a disease that I was diagnosed more than a year ago.

I did find some good information here: http://www.project-aware.org/Experience/symptoms.shtml

i would not look any further and call Utah Natural Medicine. They are friends of mine but my doctors as well. best wishes.

Greetings! I had my last child almost ten years ago. Immediately I began to undergo subtle changes associated with menopause. Since I was only in my late 30's, I didn't catch on right away, but I am so used to being emotionally STABLE that the hormonal like mood element was driving me crazy. I asked my OBGYN about it several times over the next few years, but knowing I had a difficult autistic older child, he just assumed I needed a little Prozac to help! No thank you. When I started waking up every night at 3am so overheated I was nauseated, I went back to the doc to use the hot flashes as further evidence, along with the cessation of periods. The blood tests confirmed what I knew all along. By that point, I was post menopausal! He put me on a low dose BCP, Yasmin, for hormone replacement. It has worked wonders. Within a few days, my temperament was back to normal! Magic. :) I am now 47. But I do believe that natural menopause is more typically experienced closer to age 50. However, I am living proof it can come early for no apparent reason. Just keep in mind that the "change" is a slow process that takes several years. You may be just starting and recognizing that subtle differences as your body responds. Hope this helps!

Just like the onset of menses (having a period), the timing of menopause has a strong family tendency. So talk to your mom, sisters, aunts, etc to find out when they experienced the change.
You may also be experiencing peri-menopause, which can occure 10 years or more before true menopause. (I don't know a whole lot about it, but it has been a 'water-cooler' conversation topic at work for some women). I would suggest talking to your gyn about your symptoms and family history at your next appointment (you go every year, right?) or over the phone to get more of an idea of what to expect.

Check your ferritin level. It can be determined through a blood test. I am wondering if you have hemachromatosis. I have two children (early 40's) that have it. They must have inherited a gene from their father and one from me. It often manifests itself in one's forties. It is important for your health to determine whether you have this.

I'm 44 as of this friday and I had 3 boys 8,5, and 2. My cycles were crazy off for quite awhile after I quit the pill in '95. After the kids the cycles were still off until my physical therapist who has magic hands 'put' energy in the ovary areas and about 3 months later I started to be so regular 28 days exact like I've never been before. My mother also too had a hysterectomy and so I don't know what is my family's normal menopause time. I had heard about peri-menopause that is a period of time, about 10 years that occurs before menopause. I heard also that it's the heavier periods that we should look out for.
I too noticed the warming and felt I could cook eggs on my body. If you're feeling very uncomfortable, you could have a blood work up and thyroid checked too. Alittle blood can offer lots of info.
Good luck and we'll soon find our selves in Crone-hood, but not too soon...

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