Menopause: Symptoms, treatments and common questions

Menopause is a condition that affects millions of women.

— -- Menopause. It’s a condition that affects millions of women, and it involves some pretty significant changes -- as well as symptoms.

What is menopause, and when does this usually happen?

According to the Mayo Clinic, a non-profit organization that focuses on clinical practice, education and research, menopause may occur in your 40s and 50s, but the average age in the United States is 51.

What are the symptoms of menopause?

- Irregular periods

- Vaginal dryness

- Hot flashes

- Chills

- Night sweats

- Sleep problems

- Mood changes

- Weight gain and slowed metabolism

- Thinning hair and dry skin

- Loss of breast fullness

What is perimenopause?

What is premature or early menopause?

Early menopause occurs before the age of 40. There could be a number of reasons, including genetic or autoimmune causes.

I keep hearing about hot flashes ... What are those?

Hot flashes are experienced by the majority of women going through menopause. Changes in hormone levels –- specifically estrogen -- can cause the blood vessels in the skin to dilate, leading to sweating, rapid heart rate and flushing/redness of the face. Hot flashes can be associated with mood changes and other symptoms.

When a hot flash is occurring, there can be a feeling of intense heat in the face, neck, or other parts of the body. Although skin temperature may briefly change during this time, there is no change in core temperature.

What can I do to make menopause easier? Are there any treatments?

Menopause treatments focus mainly on helping to manage symptoms. Your doctor will be able to explain the risks and benefits of different therapies.

These include:

What is the treatment for a hot flash?

Will there be any long term health consequences?

Where can I go for more information on this topic?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more information available on its website.