Now that spring is officially here, we’ve all noticed changes – warmer weather and blooming flowers. Many of us enjoy the change in season, but struggle with changes to our bodies or health. Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, talks to us about a difficult life change for many women — menopause. 

Melendez is the director of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center and has more than 20 years of healthcare experience. 

What is menopause?

Nurse Rose: Menopause can cause women a lot of anxiety and discomfort, but it’s a completely natural change. This is the point in time when a woman’s menstrual period stops and she can no longer get pregnant.

When does menopause occur?

Nurse Rose: On average, most women go through menopause around age 51, although for some women it happens in their 40s or later in their 50s. Some women experience early menopause, before age 40, due to certain medical treatments or genetic conditions.

Due to hormonal changes in your body, most women begin experiencing symptoms in a couple years to several months leading up to menopause.

How can women tell if they are beginning menopause?

Nurse Rose: Menopause doesn’t happen all at once. In fact, many women experience early signs several years before their menstrual period stops.

Signs of menopause include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Irregular periods
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Vaginal and urinary problems
  • Mood changes
  • Changing feelings about sex
  • Osteoporosis (weakening of the bones)
  • Other mental and physical changes like trouble focusing, weight gain, and joint and muscle stiffness.

When should a woman see her doctor?

Nurse Rose: You should see a doctor after you’ve skipped a couple of periods to ensure that it is not pregnancy or another health problem. Also, see your doctor if you have not had your period for a year and then start spotting again.

Your doctor can also give you advice on managing symptoms and medications that may help with symptom relief.

Is there anything women can do to prepare themselves?

Nurse Rose: Even if menopause seems far off, you can give yourself an advantage by following these help tips.

  • Eat well
  • Be active
  • Do not smoke
  • See your gynecologist regularly and schedule necessary screening tests
  • Ask your doctor about immunizations and other annual screenings

Looking for an OB/GYN? Find a skilled, compassionate physician with Adventist Medical Group.

Additional Health Tips from Rose

Find more family health tips online or tune into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. to hear Rose live.