Guest blogger Elizabeth Lyster, MD, MPH: I am seeing women at younger and younger ages having symptoms of menopause. The average age of menopause in the U.S. is 51 years old, and most people know about hot flashes and night sweats. However, I see women every day in my practice in their 40s and even late 30s having changes in their moods and in their menstrual cycles.
For women who don't need birth control and are not clinically depressed, oral contraceptives and antidepressants are like painting over a crack in the wall. And that's what women tell me they feel like: like they are "cracking up" -- and I don't mean laughing. The mood changes, irritability and sleep disruption that occurs during perimenopause can have ripple effects on kids, spouses and coworkers. The good news is that these symptoms may be easily treated with low doses of over-the-counter hormone therapy.