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Menopause – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: June 4, 2015 at 11:41 am

Menopause, also known as the climacteric, is the time in most women's lives when menstrual periods stop permanently, and she is no longer able to have children.[1][2] Menopause typically occurs between 45 and 55 years of age.[1] Medical professionals often define menopause as having occurred when a woman has not had any vaginal bleeding for a year.[3] It may also be defined by a decrease in hormone production by the ovaries.[4] In those who have had surgery to remove the uterus but still have ovaries, menopause may be viewed to have occurred at the time of the surgery or when hormone levels fall.[4] Following the removal of the uterus, symptoms typically occurs earlier, at an average of 45 years of age.[5]

Before menopause, a woman's periods typically become irregular, which means that periods may be longer or shorter in duration, or be lighter or heavier in terms of the amount of flow. During this time, women often experience hot flashes; these typically last from 30 seconds to ten minutes, and may be associated with shivering, sweating and reddening of the skin.[6] Hot flashes often stop occurring after a year or two.[2] Other symptoms may include vaginal dryness, trouble sleeping, and mood changes.[6] The severity of symptoms varies between women.[2] While menopause is often thought to be linked to an increase in heart disease, this primarily occurs due to increasing age and does not have a direct relationship with menopause. In some women, problems that were previously present like endometriosis or painful periods will improve after menopause.[2]

Menopause is usually a natural change.[7] It can occur earlier in those who smoke tobacco.[3][8] Other causes include surgery that removes both ovaries or some types of chemotherapy.[3] At the physiological level, menopause happens because of a decrease in the ovaries' production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.[1] While typically not needed, a diagnosis of menopause can be confirmed by measuring hormone levels in either the blood or urine.[9] Menopause is the opposite of menarche, the time at which a girl's periods start.[10]

Specific treatment is not usually needed. Some symptoms, however, may be improved with treatment. With respect to hot flashes, avoiding smoking, caffeine, and alcohol is often recommended. Sleeping in a cool room and using a fan may also help.[11] The following medications may help: menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), clonidine, gabapentin, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.[11][12] Exercise may help with sleeping problems. While MHT was once routinely prescribed, it is now only recommended in those with significant symptoms, as there are concerns about side effects.[11] High-quality evidence for the effectiveness of alternative medicine has not been found.[2]

During early menopause transition, the menstrual cycles remain regular but the interval between cycles begins to lengthen. Hormone levels begin to fluctuate. Ovulation may not occur with each cycle.[13]

The date of the final menstrual period is usually taken as the point in time when menopause has occurred.[13] During menopausal transition and after menopause, women can experience a wide range of symptoms.

Menstrual patterns can show shorter cycling (by 27 days);[13] longer cycles remain possible;[13]irregular bleeding (lighter, heavier, spotting).[13]

Physical symptoms include: lack of energy, joint soreness, stiffness,[13]back pain,[13] breast enlargement,[13]breast pain,[13]heart palpitations,[13]headache,[13]dizziness,[13]dry, itchy skin,[13] thinning, tingling skin, weight gain,[13]urinary incontinence,[13][14]urinary urgency,[13] interrupted sleeping patterns,[13][15][16][17] heavy night sweats,[13]hot flashes.[13]

Psychological symptoms include: anxiety,[18]poor memory,[13] inability to concentrate,[13] depressive mood,[13][18]irritability,[13]mood swings.[13]

Sexual changes include: painful intercourse,[13] vaginal dryness,[13] less interest in sexual activity.[13]

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Menopause - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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