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Menopause – Healthline

Posted: August 28, 2015 at 6:44 pm

According to theNational Institute on Aging, the average onset of menopause in the United States is age 51, but the normal range is between ages 45 and 55. Some women enter this stage of life before the age of 40. This is calledpremature menopause. Many different factors can cause premature menopause, such as:

Although menopause is a completely natural stage of a womans life cycle and not a disease, a series of uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms usually accompany it. Various forms of treatment can typically lessen these symptoms.

From the time a woman begins puberty until she enters menopause, she generally has a period around the same time every month. Of course, irregular periods happen from time to time. Pregnancy and other medical conditions interrupt your period.

During the first half of a womans normal menstrual cycle, the ovaries, two glands located on either side of the uterus, produce higher levels of the hormone estrogen. This causes the lining of the uterus to thicken to prepare for possible pregnancy. An egg in one of the ovaries also starts to mature during this time.

On day 14 of a womans menstrual cycle, the mature egg is released in a process known as ovulation. After the egg is released, the ovaries make more of the hormone progesterone. If the egg is not fertilized, the levels of estrogen and progesterone decrease, leading the body to shed the lining of the uterus. This causes a period.

As a woman approaches menopause, her ovaries produce less estrogen, which can cause irregular periods. The term menopause is defined as a womans last menstrual cycle. After a womans final period, a year without further periods confirms the permanent cessation of fertility.

Menopause is defined by three stages. These stages happen over a series of months or even years.

Perimenopause begins several years before menopause, when a woman is still having periods. A womans hormone levels may rise and fall because the ovaries are gradually producing less estrogen. This change can cause hot flashes or other symptoms. Periods will become irregular and may be shorter, longer, lighter, or heavier. This stage can last four to five years or longer, until your period stops and menopause begins. Although its possible to get pregnant during this time, its unlikely.

A woman enters menopause when it has been 12 months since her last period. At this point, her ovaries have stopped releasing eggs. Production of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone significantly decreases. This stage indicates an end to fertility.

The years following menopausal changes in a womans body are called postmenopause. During this time, symptoms like night sweats and hot flashes ease for most women.

Most women go through menopause without complications. They may experience negative symptoms, but these are normal and to be expected. While some women have an easy menopause with few side effects, others have more difficult symptoms.

Conventional and alternative treatment methods are available to lessen these symptoms and ease the transition period. There are many avenues for relief: from hormone replacement therapy to herbs and stress reduction techniques. By talking with your doctor about menopause, you can decide what, if any, treatment is right for you.

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Menopause - Healthline

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