Menopause…A New Chapter in Life

Menopause is defined as the final menstrual period, after missing periods for 12 consecutive months (perimenopause).  Menopause is associated with reduced functioning of the ovaries, resulting in lower levels of estrogen and other hormones. It marks the permanent end of fertility and occurs, on average, at age 51. The perimenopausal period is quite variable and its symptoms can last for months or years.

Because hormone levels are fluctuating, women will experience irregular menstrual period, hot flashes, sleep disturbances and mood swings. These are all normal signs of menopause.  Some women may experience low sex drive and vaginal dryness.  Although fertility is low, conception is still a possibility and contraception is necessary until menopause is reached.

“When a woman believes she may be experiencing perimenopause, it is an excellent time to have a complete medical exam,” says Dr. Goldberg. “A review of one’s personal and family medical
history and a regular check-up can help women achieve optimal health. For example, regular mammograms are important for women over 40. Pap tests are also recommended, even after
menopause,” cautions Dr. Goldberg. “Height measurements can detect loss of height, possibly an indicator of osteoporosis. The risk of osteoporosis increases after menopause. Blood, urine and
other tests to screen for existing and increased risk for various diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and thyroid disorder are also timely.”

“The news certainly isn’t all bad,” Dr. Goldberg says. “Women entering menopause should incorporate exercise, a healthy diet, and relaxation into their day. Continue sexual activity as long as you wish, especially as concern about pregnancy lessens. Your age is not an issue, and this is a time to focus
on your overall well being and satisfaction.” Dr. Goldberg believes that this healthy approach can relieve stress, quiet the mind, promote positive emotional well being, learning, concentration and creativity, and can even help to reduce such symptoms as hot flashes and insomnia.

“Sign-up for exercise and wellness programs at your local Community Y, and check out the complimentary therapies available at Raritan Bay Medical Center’s Division of Integrative Medicine,” Dr. Goldberg advises. “Explore the mind-body-spirit connection as you welcome this new chapter in your life.”