Menopause



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Editors
Nanette F. Santoro, MD



Additional Resources
Mayo Clinic
Menopause Map

Menopause is the process a woman goes through that causes her monthly periods to end. During menopause, a woman's ovaries stop producing eggs and produce fewer female hormones. When it is over, she can no longer get pregnant naturally.

As women approach mid-life, estrogen levels start to fluctuate and then drop. Most women notice that their periods stop being predictable. They may become shorter, longer, heavier or lighter than usual, and the spacing between periods may change, until a woman starts to skip her periods altogether. Eventually, they will cease.

This condition is a normal part of the aging process that women undergo, but its associated symptoms can vary greatly from woman to woman. As hormones change to accommodate normal menopausal changes, women may experience a wide range of complications, from insomnia to fatigue to headaches.

Who Experiences Menopause?

Menopause happens naturally to women at the end of their childbearing years, usually as they approach mid-life, when they stop ovulating and their bodies stop preparing for the possibility of bearing a child.

In America, the average age for menopause is 51 for non-smokers and 49 for smokers, with a typical age range somewhere between 47 and 55 years. Some women experience menopause sooner — before age 45 is considered early menopause, and before age 40 is considered premature menopause. Women who undergo hysterectomy surgery may experience menopause sooner than they would have naturally. Regardless, any woman who is approaching the middle of life can expect hormonal changes to kick in soon and for the menopause process to start. If symptoms are especially difficult or hard to handle, it can be helpful to seek support from health care professionals.

Are you or someone you love experiencing difficult symptoms and side effects that you believe are caused by menopause? Has transitioning into this new season of life created complications? Perhaps it’s time to find a health professional near you that can help. Through proper menopause treatment, you can get through this experience comfortably, without significant struggle or discomfort. When you meet with a medical professional that studies your specific situation and symptoms, you can find out which treatments are best for your needs.