I’m only 45, but I think I’m having hot flashes. Is it too early for menopause? What can I do?
Menopause is defined as the cessation of periods. The average age of menopause is 51 years. Yet, the years surrounding menopause can be challenging, as a lot of women experience uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms up to the point their periods finally cease. This time period, which can start as early as five years prior to menopause for some, is called the “perimenopausal transition.”
Symptoms women complain about, even in their 40’s, are hot flashes, mood swings and night sweats (intense hot flashes that occur only at night). Hot flashes stem from a lack of estrogen, which causes the brain to think the body is too hot. The brain then signals chemicals to release and more blood to circulate, and sweating occurs. It is a very uncomfortable feeling for most women and one of the main complaints that brings them to their gynecologist for advice.
Women seek advice from their physician when hot flashes interfere with daily activities, exercise, or if hot flashes occur in social or work situations. Over-the-counter medications, including products containing soy or black cohosh, which have estrogen-like properties, can be tried first and are safe. If patients are unsatisfied, and need further treatment options from their physician, estrogen can be prescribed, which usually is very successful in helping control severe hot flashes.
Lara Lane, MD
Women’s Care of Colorado
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