Understanding What Menopause Means to Women
Menopause can be considered a bad word in certain circles, especially for women in mid-life. The perception of menopause is anything but positive, says board-certified gynecologist Dr. David Ghozland, who helps patients cope with menopausal symptoms in his Santa Monica-based office.
Dr. Ghozland notes that for many of his patients, menopause has a stigma attached to it because it reminds women that their days of reproduction have ended. In addition to mood swings that are associated with hormonal changes, a woman may have other unpleasant symptoms to cope with as well. These include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Brain fog
- Diminished sex drive
- Painful intercourse
- Poor quality sleep
While not all women will experience all of these unwanted symptoms, most will find themselves battling at least two or three. When you consider the fact that a woman’s life expectancy today exceeds that of her mother or grandmother, and as a result, quality of life becomes a top priority in your 40s and 50s, when menopause is likely to begin.
Menopause is often referred to as “the change of life,” but there is a period that occurs in a woman’s late 30s known as “perimenopause” that signals the “change before the change.” Perimenopause is the transitional time when the body is getting ready to adjust to the end of its childbearing years, and can last for four to five years before the onset of full menopause. Many women are confused by perimenopause as the sudden changes can strike without warning. Symptoms include spotting between menstrual cycles, changes in period length, fatigue and a sense of anxiety. Poor sleep and night sweats may also occur.
According to Dr. Ghozland, women who are predisposed to depression and mood swings may experience an increase in emotional and mental issues during this season of life. While many women choose to go it alone, it is a good idea to seek medical advice if symptoms interfere with daily activities. Your doctor can request a blood panel and hormone work up so that the underlying causes of your symptoms can be addressed.
Much like the onset of menstruation in adolescence, menopause is a natural part of life that creates a transition for women, and thanks to medical advancements, it does not have to be negative or extremely difficult. In his Santa Monica practice, Dr. Ghozland sees women of all ages. As a gynecologist, he helps women before, during and after their child-bearing years, and is a proponent of both natural and minimally invasive interventions that can help women cope with the changes their body undergoes during perimenopause and menopause.