Dr. Peter, I’m a woman in my late 40’s, I’ve been having a lot of night sweats lately and difficulty sleeping. I don’t think I’m in menopause because I’m still having my menstrual period, what’s going on?
Lori, Cathedral City
Lori, menopause is the permanent end of menstruation and fertility, defined as occurring 12 months after your last menstrual period. It can happen in your 40’s or 50’s, the average age in the U.S. being 51. So, by definition, you are not in menopause. You are most likely transitioning into menopause, the time period referred to as “perimenopause”.
During perimenopause, the level of estrogen (the main female hormone) rises and falls unevenly. This fluctuation in estrogen causes irregular menstrual periods and may cause symptoms of :
– hot flashes and difficulty sleeping
– mood changes
– vaginal and bladder problems causing dryness and incontinence
– decreased libido
– bone loss
– weight gain
The amount of symptoms and severity can vary from one woman to another and the perimenopausal period can last sometimes up to 10 years. I often tell my patients to ask their mother’s when they went through “the age” to get a better idea of what’s in store for them.
Dr. Peter, I exercise regularly, eat right and feel I get enough sleep, but in the past few years I’ve noticed increasing fatigue, loss of sex drive and sometimes feeling depressed. I’m only 42, is there such a thing as “male menopause”?
Terry, Indio
Terry, by definition, no, men do not go through menopause. But as men get older, their testosterone levels start to decrease and may start to become symptomatic even in their late 30’s or early 40’s. Symptom severity can vary and the onset can become gradual. This is known as “andropause”.
Symptoms may vary from person to person, along with the age of onset.
Common symptoms of men going through andopause include:
low sex drive
erectile dysfunction
lack of energy
irritability and mood swings
loss of strength or muscle mass
increased body fat
If you believe you are having the symptoms of perimenopause, women should consult with their gynecologist and/or their primary care physician. If you are a male and think you are going through andropause, consult with your primary care physician or a urologist. A proper history and physical exam with lab testing will help with the diagnosis. There is treatment available for these conditions and may involve the use of hormone therapies. I do perform evaluation and treatment of these conditions, so you can also contact my office for an appointment. I will explore treatment options in future articles.