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The menopause – Netdoctor

Posted: July 16, 2015 at 10:44 am

Reviewed byDrJeniWorden, GP

The menopause, also called the change of life, is defined as the end of the last menstrual period.

In Western women, it occurs on average at 51 years, but there's a wide range extending from your 30s to 60s.

Going through the menopause before the age of 40 is known as premature menopause and between 41 and 45 as early menopause.

The menopause occurs when the ovaries no longer respond to the controlling hormones released by the pituitary gland of the brain.

As a result, the ovaries fail to release an egg each month and to produce the female sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone.

It is the fall in the levels of these hormones in the bloodstream that gives rise to the symptoms of menopause.

Research into the menopause is relatively recent. One hundred years ago, when life expectancy was shorter, most women did not live long after the menopause and so little was known about it.

Many women experience symptoms of the menopause and irregular periods for several years up to the menopause itself.

This is called the climacteric, or 'perimenopause', and represents the gradual decline in the normal function of the ovaries.

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The menopause - Netdoctor

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