Menopause is when the menstrual period ends permanently. It is a natural process that can begin over several years. Menopause is confirmed when it has been a year without a period. It most often occurs naturally around age 52, but can happen any time between ages 40 and 60. Menopause that occurs before age 40 is considered premature menopause.
Menopause is a gradual process. Perimenopause is the time before, when your body is gradually moving towards menopause. It includes changes to hormone levels and irregular pattern of periods.
Menstrual period happens because of hormones called estrogen and progresterone. These hormones are released by the ovaries. Natural menopause is caused by a gradual decrease in estrogen. The decrease in hormones eventually stops the ovaries from releasing eggs.
Menopause can also be caused by surgery that removes the uterus or ovaries. Menopause will occur immediately after surgery in these cases.
Menopause is a natural process associated with aging.
Risk factors for early menopause include:
- Radiation or chemotherapy
Menopause itself may not have symptoms. Symptoms are more common in the time leading up to menopause and may include:
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Disturbed sleep patterns, such as insomnia
- Mood changes, which may include irritability, anxiety or depression
- Vaginal dryness and pain with sexual intercourse
- Dry skin
- Decreased interest in sex
- Frequent urination or leaking of urine
Your doctor will ask you about your period cycle. Perimenopause or menopause is suspected based on symptoms and age. Once the menstrual period is absent for 12 months it is considered menopause.
Menopause may need to be confirmed after a surgery. A blood test may be done to look for follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). High levels of FSH suggest menopause.
Menopause is a natural part of life that does not need treatment itself.
The changes in hormones can cause symptoms in the early stages. Certain treatments and lifestyle changes may help decrease symptoms that are causing problems.
These hormones also play a role in protecting the bones and heart. The decrease in hormones can increase your risk of heart disease or osteoporosis. Lifestyle changes can help decrease the risk of these conditions.
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Menopause is a natural event that cannot be prevented.