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How do I know if I am going into menopause?

The average age of menopause is 51 but the age at which your mother went into menopause can be fairly reflective of when you can expect to reach menopause. In the years leading to menopause, a stage called perimenopause, we tend to see changes in menstruation patterns. The menstrual cycle may shorten by a few days or lengthen and become generally unpredictable. Accompanying symptoms include hot flashes, sleep disturbance, vaginal dryness and mood changes. These signs and symptoms can precede menopause by an average of four years.

There are tests to determine whether a woman is entering menopause, which measure estrogen or follicle stimulating hormone levels. A woman has officially reached menopause after 12 consecutive months without a period.

Some women experience more problematic symptoms of menopause. Women who are troubled by the symptoms they are experiencing should talk with their OB/GYN. There are many safe and effective treatments available. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you experience bleeding that occurs more frequently than every 21 days. This could be indicative of more serious problems.

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