Menopause, also known as the climacteric, is the time in most women’s lives when menstrual periods stop permanently, and they are no longer able to bear children. Menopause typically occurs between 49 and 52 years of age. Medical professionals often define menopause as having occurred when a woman has not had any vaginal bleeding for a year. It may also be defined by a decrease in hormone production by the ovaries. In those who have had surgery to remove their uterus but they still have ovaries, menopause may be viewed to have occurred at the time of the surgery or when their hormone levels fell. Following the removal of the uterus, symptoms typically occur earlier, at an average of 45 years of age.
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 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. Hot flashes often stop occurring after a year or two.Other symptoms may include vaginal dryness, trouble sleeping, and mood changes. The severity of symptoms varies between women. 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 present like endometriosis or painful periods will improve after menopause.
Menopause is usually a natural change. It can occur earlier in those who smoke tobacco. Other causes include surgery that removes both ovaries or some types of chemotherapy. At the physiological level, menopause happens because of a decrease in the ovaries’ production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. While typically not needed, a diagnosis of menopause can be confirmed by measuring hormone levels in the blood or urine. Menopause is the opposite of menarche, the time when a girl’s periods start.
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.
The date of the final menstrual period is usually taken as the point when menopause has occurred. During the menopausal transition and after menopause, women can experience a wide range of symptoms.
During the transition to menopause, menstrual patterns can show shorter cycling (by 2–7 days); longer cycles remain possible. There may be irregular bleeding (lighter, heavier, spotting). Dysfunctional uterine bleeding is often experienced by women approaching menopause due to the hormonal changes that accompany the menopause transition. Spotting or bleeding may simply be related to vaginal atrophy, a benign sore (polyp or lesion), or may be a functional endometrial response. The European Menopause and Andropause Society has released guidelines for assessment of the endometrium, which is usually the main source of spotting or bleeding.
In post-menopausal women, however, any genital bleeding is an alarming symptom that requires an appropriate study to rule out the possibility of malignant diseases.Symptoms that may appear during menopause and continue through postmenopause include:
atrophic vaginitis — thinning of the membranes of the vulva, the vagina, the cervix, and the outer urinary tract, along with considerable shrinking and loss in elasticity of all of the outer and inner genital areas.
Other physical symptoms of menopause include lack of energy, joint soreness, stiffness, back pain, breast enlargement, breast pain, heart palpitations, headache, dizziness, dry, itchy skin, thinning, tingling skin, weight gain, urinary incontinence,urinary urgency, interrupted sleeping patterns, heavy night sweats, hot flashes.
Psychological symptoms include anxiety, poor memory,inability to concentrate,depressive mood, irritability, mood swings, less interest in sexual activity.
Long term effects
A possible but contentious increased risk of atherosclerosis. The risk of acute myocardial infarction and other cardiovascular diseases rises sharply after menopause, but the risk can be reduced by managing risk factors, such as tobacco smoking, hypertension, increased blood lipids and body weight.
Increased risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis[citation needed.Women who experience menopause before 45 years of age have an increased risk of heart disease and death
Climacteric or Premenopause is a term used to mean the years leading up to the last period, when the levels of reproductive hormones are becoming more variable and lower, and the effects of hormone withdrawal are present.Premenopause starts some time before the monthly cycles become noticeably irregular in timing.
The term “perimenopause”, which literally means “around the menopause”, refers to the menopause transition years, a time before and after the date of the final episode of flow. According to the North American Menopause Society, this transition can last for four to eight years. The Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research describes it as a six- to ten-year phase ending 12 months after the last menstrual period.
During perimenopause, estrogen levels average about 20–30% higher than during premenopause, often with wide fluctuations. These fluctuations cause many of the physical changes during perimenopause as well as menopause. Some of these changes are hot flashes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, vaginal dryness or atrophy, incontinence, osteoporosis, and heart disease. During this period, fertility diminishes but is not considered to reach zero until the official date of menopause. The official date is determined retroactively, once 12 months have passed after the last appearance of menstrual blood.
The menopause transition typically begins between 40 and 50 years of age (average 47.5). The duration of perimenopause may be for up to eight years. Women will often, but not always, start these transitions (perimenopause and menopause) about the same time as their mother did.
In some women, menopause may bring about a sense of loss related to the end of fertility. In addition, this change often occurs when other stressors may be present in a woman’s life:
Caring for, and/or the death of, elderly parents
Empty nest syndrome when children leave home
The birth of grandchildren, which places people of “middle age” into a new category of “older people” (especially in cultures where being older is a state that is looked down on)
Some research appears to show that melatonin supplementation in perimenopausal women can improve thyroid function and gonadotropin levels, as well as restoring fertility and menstruation and preventing depression associated with menopause.
The term “postmenopausal” describes women who have not experienced any menstrual flow for a minimum of 12 months, assuming that they have a uterus and are not pregnant or lactating. In women without a uterus, menopause or postmenopause can be identified by a blood test showing a very high FSH level. Thus postmenopause the time in a woman’s life that take place after her last period or, more accurately, after the point when her ovaries become inactive.
The reason for this delay in declaring postmenopause is because periods are usually erratic at this time of life. Therefore, a reasonably long stretch of time is necessary to be sure that the cycling has ceased. At this point a woman is considered infertile; however, the possibility of becoming pregnant has usually been very low (but not quite zero) for a number of years before this point is reached.A woman’s reproductive hormone levels continue to drop and fluctuate for some time into post-menopause, so hormone withdrawal effects such as hot flashes may take several years to disappear.Any period-like flow during postmenopause, even spotting, must be reported to a doctor. The cause may be minor, but the possibility of endometrial cancer must be checked for.