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Menopause

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

Can a woman get pregnant after menopause?

Menopause is a diagnosis made retrospectively, after a woman who is in the likely age range for menopause has gone a whole year without any periods or any kind of vaginal bleeding. When a woman talks about going through menopause, what we call menopause in the vernacular is "perimenopause" in medical lingo, and it often involves irregular periods and hot flashes. It's possible to get pregnant during perimenopause. Sometimes women stop using birth control because they think their fertile years are over, only to get pregnant. It's unlikely to happen, but it certainly does happen. Women who are having perimenopausal symptoms often get labwork done to be sure that it's the correct explanation for their symptoms. If labwork indicates that it's perimenopause and then the woman goes a whole year without periods/vaginal bleeding, then after that it would be extremely unlikely to have a spontaneous pregnancy. Some women do get pregnant after menopause with medical help; this would involve a lot of hormone treatment and the use of donor eggs and in vitro fertilization.

 

Do the ovaries produce estrogen after menopause?

No. Circulating blood estradiol level after menopause is only ~10-20 pg/ml. This small quantity is actually not from the ovary, but rather a product of two conversion steps that happen in the body: androstenedione-->estrone-->estradiol

 

What can I as a husband expect and do to help my wife through menopause?

What can you expect? Every woman is different - some breeze through it with hardly any symptoms while other suffer with sleep disturbances, hot flashes, mood swings, etc. It's a myth that the sex drive suddenly vanishes - it may diminish gradually with age, like men experience, or she may not feel as well during menopause, but there's no reason to think she's going AWOL.

Psychologically, some women are glad to be rid of the "the curse", but it is a huge loss - a loss of youth, sexuality, fertility - and that is something about which you can be sensitive.

As for how to help her, well, like in any situation, you have to ask her. And you can draw on past experiences - what kind of help did she appreciate when she was pregnant, or trying to lose weight, get a promotion at work, etc.?

You can certainly understand what she is going through, physically and psychologically, and if she has mood swings, not take them so personally, but at the same time, don't let her use that as an excuse to take them out on you.

 

What do men think of women who have entered menopause?

I can't speak for any other men, but my attitude is, approximately, "I hope it's not causing you much trouble." From what my female friends tell me [1], some of the symptoms seem pretty unpleasant, and I'm never happy when my friends don't feel well.

 

Do aging men go through "manopause" similar to what women have with menopause?

No it isn't at all similar to what a women goes through. Men simply grow older gradually. As someone who lived with a woman going through menopause. I didn't experience anything like hot flashes or extensive bleeding.

 

Women's Health: How does a woman feel when she faces menopause?

Usually, grateful!

Menstuation is often uncomfortable, or at best, a nuisance. No woman that I know, wants to continue this monthly cycle any longer than necessary. Menopause often means irregular intervals between periods, some periods lighter or heavier than usual. Periods tend to be unpredictable. This, along with hormonal changes, may make some women more emotional, NOT insane!

Another bothersome symptom of menopause is "hot flashes" or night sweats. These are sudden, unpredictable episodes of sweating that can be quite annoying.. Insomnia is a frequent complaint during this time also. So is poor memory. Women differ in the type or frequency of symptoms, but none should be disabling or interfere in any major way with ordinary life.

 

With life expectancy increasing, is the age when menopause sets in also increasing?

The age when menopause starts is not changing and it is unlikely to change, even with greatly prolonged lifespans. Menopause is directly related to fertility (in the sense that hormones that promote fertility become scarce during the menopause). Many theories of ageing which are indirectly related to the menopause, predict that the age of onset will not change. In fact, many believe that the menopause is an unnatural phenomenon, because we were meant to die before it starts (if we were living in the wild).

 

Menopause: What are some early menopause symptoms?

Severely swollen ankles could be indicative of other health problems. It's very important to see a doctor about that.

Before menopause, there is peri-menopause. Periods may last longer or shorter, come irregularly, you may experience hormone spikes that make you flush and mild mood swings.

Menopause is the time when your periods stop literally, when your hormone levels are not fluctuating and are at their lowest. Difficulty with sleep and suddenly feeling too warm, sweating are the more difficult symptoms.

Some women get by without much difficulty but for some it's troubling.

But see your doctor about severely swollen ankles. Edema like that is unusual.