Jun 14, 2022 Menopause: What Your OBGYN Wants You to Know

physician speaking with her patient

Make sure to take good care of your body as it changes.

Menopause is such an important time in a woman’s life,” says Emily Slutsky, MD, Director of the Women’s Health Medical Genetics Division at Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC). “It’s the phase in a woman’s life when her menstrual periods cease, but it’s much more. It’s also an opportunity for a woman to revitalize her relationship with her OB/GYN, improve her quality of life and become a partner in her health screening and preventive care.”

Emily Slutsky, MD
Emily Slutsky, MD

Once a woman is finished with having children, she may become lax about her gynecological health, skipping screenings and recommended visits. On the contrary, when she reaches her mid-40s, she’s nearing menopause and should learn what to expect and how to navigate the coming changes, says Dr. Slutsky.

“The experience is different for every woman,” she says. “Therapy and interventions must be fine-tuned for each individual, her age, family and personal history, and the symptoms she’s experiencing.”

The Perimenopause Years

“Perimenopause is the name for the years leading up to menopause,” says Dr. Slutsky. “It usually starts in a woman’s late 40s as estrogen levels begin to fluctuate. A woman will first notice a change in the menstrual cycle, either in the number of days between the cycles, a skipped period or a flow change—lighter or heavier. Something will just be different. That’s a good time to check in with your OB/GYN. ”

Depending upon a variety of factors—waning hormone levels, past surgeries, health conditions and family history—you could run the full gamut of possible symptoms or experience none at all. As your body’s production of reproductive hormones diminishes through the years, however, you will likely experience an increasing number. Symptoms can include:

  • Hot flashes.
  • Mood swings.
  • Vaginal dryness.
  • Painful sex.
  • Breast tenderness.
  • Loss of interest in sex.

Your doctor may suggest treatments, such as antidepressants and lubricants for vaginal dryness and painful sex. Hormone therapy (HT) with estrogen and progesterone is a reliable treatment for women whose symptoms are disruptive, says Dr. Slutsky.

Before taking any medications, particularly HT, talk to your OB/GYN about your personal and family history for types of cancers that can be influenced by hormones. As JCMC’s only OB/GYN medical geneticist, Dr. Slutsky also may suggest a genetic panel if your family history warrants.

The Next Phase: Menopause

You’ve reached menopause when you’ve gone one year without a period. The age range when this happens is usually the 40s until the late 50s, but it can occur earlier or later due to factors like obesity, health conditions, surgeries and family history.

For many, symptoms continue unabated during this time. New symptoms may also begin:

  • Memory and concentration problems.
  • Change in cognition.
  • Insomnia.
  • Urinary incontinence and infection.
  • Weight gain.
  • Vaginal tissue thinning.

Staying in touch with your OB/GYN continues to be important at this time, says Dr. Slutsky. Treatments, such as antidepressants that influence levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, are known to cool the severity and frequency of hot flashes, as well as help with moods. Vaginal dryness and thinning can be treated with topical estrogen creams.

Finally Postmenopause

When a woman’s menstrual period has been gone for more than 12 months, she is in the postmenopause stage. Many women continue to experience menopausal symptoms, particularly hot flashes, five to 10 years into postmenopause.

As your body’s production of estrogen diminishes, so too does the protective role it plays in your cardiovascular system, bone density and metabolism. The healthy habits you already know about—eating a nutritious, low-fat diet and staying physically active—are more important than ever.

“Menopause is more complex than just hot flashes and your periods stopping,” explains Dr. Slutsky. “The physiology a woman’s had for decades changes, especially at the cardiovascular level, putting her at greater risk for heart attack or stroke. That’s why it’s so important that her weight stays within a healthy range.”

Osteoporosis—bone thinning— is another consideration. Without estrogen, bones become brittle. Fortunately, there are medications that help, and studies show that weight training exercises help rebuild bone density.

Your journey from youth to the wisdom of age might have a few bumps, but your OB/GYN can help make the path much easier.

“OB/GYNs don’t just deliver babies,” says Dr. Slutsky. “We are here to guide you through this phase of life and beyond, because a woman’s body is not stationary. It is constantly changing.”

Stages of Menopause


  • Symptoms of hormonal changes.
  • Can still become pregnant.
  • Usually lasts about four years.


  • No period for 12 consecutive months.
  • Ovaries stop producing eggs.
  • Average age is 51.


  • More than one year since last period.
  • Will remain in this stage for rest of life.

Find an OB/GYN at Jersey City Medical Center.