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Menopause and Your Health

Menopause and Your Health

This article is for women who are experiencing menopause and their care partners, or anyone who wants to learn more about menopause. The goal of this activity is to help women talk to and work with their doctors about menopause.

You will learn about:

  • What menopause is and its stages

  • Symptoms of menopause

  • How menopause may impact your health

  • Ways to manage menopause

  • Questions to ask your doctor

Test Your Knowledge

What Is Menopause?

Your ovaries are the 2 small, oval-shaped glands on either side of your uterus. They make and store your eggs and make the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which control the release of your eggs (ovulation) and your periods (menstrual cycles).

Menopause is 12 months after your last period happens. It's also when your ovaries stop releasing an egg every month and marks the end of your reproductive years. Perimenopause refers to the years leading up to that point. During this time, you may have changes in your body's levels of estrogen and progesterone and your periods. This is also sometimes called menopausal transition.

The Stages of Menopause

Menopause can be different for different women. Most go through menopause as a normal part of aging (natural menopause). But some women can go through early menopause due to surgery, a problem with their ovaries, or a health condition.

Natural menopause typically has 3 stages:

  • Perimenopause often starts in your 40s and usually about 8 to 10 years before menopause. For some women, however, perimenopause can start in their 30s. During the last 1 to 2 years of perimenopause, estrogen levels fall faster and symptoms may start

  • Menopause often happens in your 40s or 50s when your ovaries have stopped making most of their estrogen

  • Postmenopause happen after menopause. Some symptoms may get better, but certain health risks due to lower estrogen levels and other changes your body goes through may increase as you get older

Symptoms That May Happen

Symptoms can impact you both physically and your mental well-being. They may also overlap during the stages of menopause.

Symptoms can be different for different women. Some may not have any at all and even feel relieved about not having a period or having to think about getting pregnant. But for other women, symptoms can be troubling, extremely bothersome, and greatly affect their quality of life.

Symptoms can include:

  • Irregular or missed periods

  • Vasomotor symptoms (VMS) such as hot flashes -- a sudden warm feeling over your upper body -- blushing, and sweating, including at night (night sweats)

Symptoms That May Happen (cont)

Other symptoms can include:

  • Vaginal dryness and pain or slight bleeding during sex

  • Needing to urinate (pee) more often

  • Chills

  • Sleep problems

  • Sore or tender breasts and loss of fullness

  • A fast heartbeat or racing heart

  • Dry skin, eyes, or mouth

  • Hair thinning or loss

  • Weight gain and a slowed metabolism

  • Fatigue (tiredness)

  • Changes in your sex drive (libido)

  • Headaches

  • Joint and muscle aches and pains

  • Moodiness, irritability, or depression

  • Memory or concentration problems

How Menopause May Impact Your Health

The stages of menopause can affect each woman differently. But certain health risks due to lower estrogen levels and other changes your body goes through may increase as you get older.

These may include:

  • Heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease

  • Bone loss (osteoporosis)

  • Bladder and bowels problems, including urinary incontinence (the involuntary loss of urine) and urinary tract infections (UTIs)

  • Thinner skin and more wrinkles

  • Lower muscle tone and decreased strength

  • Problems with your eyes and vision

Dr Patricia J. Williams talks about the physical and mental well-being impact menopause can have on your health, and discussing it with your doctor.

Ways to Manage Symptoms

If you're having any symptoms, talk to your doctor. It may feel uncomfortable or embarrassing to bring them up, but there are ways to help manage symptoms and improve your quality of life, as well as help your health and mental well-being. Together, you and your doctor can make a treatment plan that's right for you.

Your doctor may recommend treatment such as:

  • Lifestyle changes

  • Medicines to help with symptoms that may be hormonal (contains hormones) or nonhormonal (does not contain hormones)

  • Other medicines to help with:

    ○ Depression and mood

    ○ Osteoporosis

    ○ Other conditions you may have, such as heart disease

Lifestyle Tips

Lifestyle tips to help you manage symptoms and protect your quality of life can include:

  • Stay physically active and get enough exercise

  • Eat a well-balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight

  • Limit how much alcohol you drink

  • Quit smoking

  • Drink cold water, sit or sleep near a fan, and dress in layers you can remove to help with hot flashes

  • Use a moisturizer or lubricant that's made to help with vaginal dryness

  • Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles to help with bladder and bowel control -- you can ask your doctor about Kegel exercises

  • Tell your doctor about all medicines you take -- including those you get without a prescription -- and herbals and supplements  

  • Find ways to help cope with stress

  • Stay active mentally and socially

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Questions you can ask your doctor and healthcare team can include:

  • How will I know if I'm going through the stages of menopause? Are there symptoms I should be aware of or look for?

  • How can my quality of life and health be affected?

  • Are there any lifestyle changes I should make?

  • What treatments are available, and what are their side effects?

  • What should I do if I start to feel stressed or depressed?

  • Where can I find more information and resources?

Test Your Knowledge

Survey questions


You have successfully completed the program Menopause and Your Health.

View Additional Materials on this topic that you may find useful:

Women's Reproductive Health


Office on Women's Health -- Menopause

Menopause Basics

Menopause Symptoms and Relief

Menopause Treatment

Menopause and Health

Menopause Fact Sheet

Authors and Disclosures


Patricia J. Williams, MD

Specialty in Obstetrics & GynecologyConsultant on Pharmaceuticals Pharmacovigilance & Patient SafetyPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania 

Patricia J. Williams, MD, has no relevant financial relationships.

Clinician Reviewer

Joy P. Marko, MS, APN-C, CCMEP

Senior Medical Education Director, Medscape, LLC.

Joy P Marko, MS, APN-C, CCMEP, has no relevant financial relationships.


Anita A. Galdieri, PharmD, RPh

Associate Director, Content Development, Medscape, LLC.

Anita A. Galdieri, PharmD, RPh, has no relevant financial relationships.


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