Menopause

Older woman leaning on wallMenopause is the gradual shifting in women from fertility to infertility. During menopause, a woman’s menstrual periods stop and she ultimately becomes unable to get pregnant or give birth.

What is Menopause?
Menopause typically occurs in middle age, between the ages of 45 and 55, but some women experience menopause earlier or later. It is not a disease, but is instead a natural part of aging. It is also not a specific event, but rather a process. Doctors can detect that menopause is beginning based on a woman’s reports about her menstrual periods and symptoms in conjunction with tests to measure the levels of hormones such as estradiol.

Symptoms of Menopause
Menopause is different for each woman, and some women have no or few symptoms. Symptoms of menopause may include:

  • Hot flashes, which cause sudden feelings of heat and flushing
  • A pounding heart
  • Decreased periods and other changes in the menstrual cycle
  • Changes in libido
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Increase in body hair

Treatment for Menopause
Once menopause has begun, it cannot be reversed. Some women, however, seek help from their doctors for the symptoms of menopause. Additionally, menopause can sometimes lead to an increase in body hair, sexual difficulties, and incontinence, so doctors may prescribe medication, nutritional changes, and lifestyle changes to mitigate these side effects.

Menopause can be emotionally challenging for some women. Fertility and youth are a source of identity for some people, and the end of fertility can be painful. Many women grieve their perceived loss of youth. Some women seek counseling to cope with the stress of menopause, and some experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. Hormonal swings during menopause can make these symptoms worse, and some doctors prescribe hormone treatments to reduce these symptoms. However, hormonal treatments pose some risks, so women are increasingly turning to other remedies.

Reference:

  1. A.D.A.M. Editor Board. (2011, September 13). Menopause. PubMed Health. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001896/

Last Updated: 08-11-2015

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