- Menopause is an inevitable phase in every woman’s life as her reproductive years come to an end.
- It is defined as the time when a woman has gone without a period for 12 months in a row.
- It occurs due to a gradual decline in reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone, because of natural aging.
- Menopause can also be induced through surgery, like hysterectomy, or certain medications.
- The average age of menopause is 51.
- Perimenopause, which can last from 2 to 10 years, is when most intense menopause symptoms occur, including irregular periods, hot flashes, and night sweats.
- A year after the last period, a woman is referred to as postmenopausal.
- Postmenopausal women should be cautious of complications such as heart disease and osteoporosis.
Causes of Menopause
Menopause happens as a result of a decline of hormones due to natural aging. As women age, the supply of their ovarian eggs, which are the main producers of key reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesteron, gradually decreases until it reaches total depletion. With no eggs being released, no hormonal production, and no periods occurring for 12 consecutive months, a woman is said to have entered natural menopause.
Induced Causes of Menopause
When menopause happens as a result of a surgery or a medical treatment, it is referred to as an induced menopause.
Surgical menopause occurs after removing both ovaries (bilateral oophorectomy), causing immediate, abrupt hormonal changes. This procedure is often performed along with hysterectomy, which is the removal of the uterus.
Medical menopause occurs when medications or therapies for cancer or other conditions cause damage to the ovaries or ovarian eggs, compromising their function. The most common causes of medical menopause include: radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and other medications.
Symptoms of Menopause
Although the type, severity, and duration of the menopause symptoms will vary from woman to woman, irregular periods are considered the first signal that the body is entering the menopausal transition. The most common menopause symptoms are:
The symptoms typically lessen in postmenopause; however, consistently low hormone levels put women at a of developing heart problems, vaginal athrophy, or osteoporosis.
Signs of Menopause
The appearance of the symptoms is often enough to diagnose menopause. However, doctors might search for more tangible signs of menopause through a number of diagnostic tests.
Test results showing abnormal levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) or estradiol indicate menopause. Other tests can be done to rule out thyroid disease as many of its symptoms overlap with those of menopause.