Don’t overlook signs of menopause. Here’s how to prepare
The menopause transition marks a major health milestone for many women entering their 50s. This is a natural event, but can come with discomfort, which is why you should prepare for menopause by developing a relationship with a primary care provider.
There are two stages that lead to menopause: premenopause and perimenopause. Premenopause is the stage of when women are at the end of their reproductive years, which then leads to perimenopause, says Dr. Margaret Malicay, a family medicine physician at Advocate Health Care.
Women also experience premenopause differently when it comes to symptoms. During the stages of perimenopause, women will start to experience symptoms like period irregularity, heavier or lighter period flows, UTIs, hot flashes and other symptoms. “Women experience these stages differently when it comes to symptoms and when they occur,” says Dr. Malicay. “Unfortunately, there’s not enough education about what to expect for women entering this phase.”
More importantly, there is a reality that menopause can be up to 10 years for some women and sometimes not. Everyone’s body is different, she explains. Because of all this variability, this is a time in a woman’s life when it’s especially vital to have a good relationship with a primary care provider to be able to ask questions. Keeping a good relationship with your primary care doctor, including scheduling annual physicals, will provide patients not only with knowledge about what is going on with their body, but also provide options to feel better, Dr. Malicay says.
“It is the determining factor whether your outcomes are going to be good or bad,” she says. “Sometimes patients may feel like there isn’t a good chemistry with their doctor, and that’s okay, what’s important is to feel comfortable. It’s never too late to lay a good foundation for a good relationship. Having a connection where you can trust someone is most important.”
Dr. Malicay suggests women entering this stage of life make lifestyle modifications like getting adequate sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise. “Each woman’s body will experience the natural event differently, maintaining a healthy lifestyle could help minimize symptoms they may have,” she says.
Dr. Malicay also points out that no one is going to know your body more than yourself. Having that control over your mind and body is most important.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.