Menopause occurs when a woman hasn’t menstruated in 12 consecutive months and can no longer become pregnant naturally. It usually begins between the ages of 45 and 55, but can develop before or after this age range.
It can cause uncomfortable symptoms, such as hot flashes and weight gain. For most women, medical treatment isn’t needed for menopause.
When does menopause begin and how long does it last?
Most women first begin developing menopause symptoms about four years before their last period. Symptoms often continue until about four years after a woman’s last period.
A small number of women experience menopause symptoms for up to a decade before menopause actually occurs; while 1 in 10 women experience menopausal symptoms for 12 years following their last period. The average age for menopause is 51.
There are many factors that help determine when you’ll begin menopause, including genetics and ovary health. Perimenopause occurs before menopause. Perimenopause is a time when your hormones begin to change in preparation for menopause.
It can last anywhere from a few months to several years. Many women begin perimenopause some point after their mid-40s. Other women skip perimenopause and enter menopause suddenly.
Perimenopause vs. menopause vs. postmenopause
During perimenopause, menstrual periods become irregular. Your periods may be late, or you may completely skip one or more periods. Menstrual flow may also become heavier or lighter.
Menopause is defined as a lack of menstruation for one full year. And Postmenopause refers to the years after menopause has occurred.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
Every woman’s menopause experience is unique. Symptoms are usually more severe when menopause occurs suddenly or over a shorter period of time.
Conditions that impact the health of the ovary, like cancer or hysterectomy, or certain lifestyle choices, like smoking; tend to increase the severity and duration of symptoms.
Aside from menstruation changes, the symptoms of perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause are generally the same.
The most common early signs of perimenopause are: less frequent menstruation, heavier or lighter periods than you normally experience, vasomotor symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, and flushing.
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More common symptoms of menopause may include: insomnia, vaginal dryness, weight gain, depression, anxiety and difficulty concentrating. Others are memory problems, reduced libido, or sex drive, dry skin, mouth and eyes; increased urination, sore or tender breasts among others.
Common complications of menopause include
Menopause has its own common complications such as, vulvovaginal atrophy, dyspareunia, or painful intercourse, slower metabolic function, osteoporosis, or weaker bones with reduced mass and strength.
Others are mood or sudden emotional changes, cataracts, periodontal disease, urinary incontinence, heart or blood vessel disease.
Many people may begin to wonder why does menopause occur. Menstruation experts said menopause is a natural process that occurs as the ovaries age and produce less reproductive hormones.
The body begins to undergo several changes in response to lower levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).
One of the most notable changes is the loss of active ovarian follicles. Ovarian follicles are the structures that produce and release eggs from the ovary wall, allowing menstruation and fertility.
In some cases, menopause is induced, or caused by injury or surgical removal of the ovaries and related pelvic structures.
Common causes of induced menopause include bilateral oophorectomy, or surgical removal of the ovaries. Ovarian ablation or the shutdown of ovary function is done by hormone therapy, surgery; or radiotherapy techniques in women with estrogen receptor-positive tumors.
It’s worth talking with your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing troublesome or disabling menopause symptoms, or you’re experiencing menopause symptoms and are 45 years of age or younger.
You may need treatment if your symptoms are severe or affecting your quality of life. Hormone therapy may be an effective treatment in women under the age of 60. Or within 10 years of menopause onset.
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