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Menopause

Menopause is a normal hormonal and biological change in your life marked by your menstrual period stopping. Menopause is a gradual process that can take 3-5 years.

You have reached menopause when you have not had a menstrual period for 12 months in a row. Usually, menopause is natural, which means it happens on its own, and you don't need medical treatment unless your symptoms bother you.

The timing of menopause is different for each woman. The average age for women to have their last menstrual period is about 51, but it can happen at any time in your 40s or 50s. You often go through menopause at about the same age as your mother.

Some changes you may notice at the onset of menopause include:

  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Sleep problems
  • Mood changes
  • Weight gain and slowed metabolism
  • Thinning hair and dry skin
  • Loss of breast fullness

Sometimes menopause can lead to anxiety or depression. These symptoms could be worse for women with a history of post-traumatic stress disorder. Talk to your VA primary care provider if you are experiencing mental health concerns. Treatment options are effective and available.

If you stop having your menstrual periods before age 40, your VA primary care provider can do a blood test to see if you're going through menopause or if there is another cause for your missed menstrual periods. You should also talk with your provider if you experience:

  • A change in your monthly cycle
  • Heavier bleeding
  • Bleeding that lasts longer than usual
  • Bleeding more often than every 3 weeks
  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse
  • Any blood spotting between menstrual periods
  • Any vaginal bleeding after menopause

What services does VA provide for menopause?

Usually, medical treatment is only needed if your symptoms bother you. A variety of medical and non-medical treatments for menopausal symptoms are available to you through VA. These include:

  • Hormone patch that is worn on the skin
  • Hormone pills
  • Vaginal estrogen therapy (can help with vaginal dryness)

There are also some non-medical treatments for menopausal symptoms that you can try today on your own to help ease hot flashes, mood changes, and irritability like:

  • Dressing in layers
  • Avoiding hot beverages
  • Avoiding drinking alcohol to excess or late at night
  • Practicing mindfulness and seeking other mental health support
  • Exercising regularly, if you need help, try the VA Move program
  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet, check out the Healthy Teaching Kitchen which offers cooking classes on healthy meals if you need help getting started

Talk to your VA health care provider regarding your symptoms, and they can help determine what combination of medical and non-medical treatments work best for you and your specific symptoms.

How do I access services for menopause at VA?

If your menopause symptoms are bothering you and you already have a VA primary care provider, let them know about your symptoms. They will go over options with you. Or call your nearest VA medical center and ask for the Women Veterans Program Manager (WVPM). The WVPM can help coordinate the services you may need.

If you don't already use VA health care, you you may want to use the following online tools:

Find out if you are eligible for VA health care.

Enroll in VA health care if you haven't already.

Find your local VA and make an appointment.

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The Women Veterans Call Center is your guide to women's health

If you have questions or can't find what you're looking for, you can call, text, or chat online with the Women Veterans Call Center (WVCC) at 855-829-6636 to get help and find available resources and services in your area. Trained women representatives can also help you with issues such as:

  • Enrolling in VA health care if you have not already
  • Setting up a medical appointment in your area
  • Answering questions about eligibility (including questions about disability ratings) and other VA benefits like employment, education, and home loans

WVCC representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET, and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET.

Where can I find more information, help and resources on menopause?

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