Menopause occurs when a woman permanently stops having menstrual periods and is no longer able to become pregnant.
Why Menopause Occurs
The time leading up to menopause is known as perimenopause. During this transitional time, the amount of estrogen produced by the ovaries begins to gradually decrease, causing irregular periods. The average age for natural menopause is around age 51, but some women experience menopause anywhere between the ages of 40 to 55.
Menopause can also occur suddenly when the ovaries are surgically removed or following chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Symptoms of Menopause
Not every woman experiences menopausal symptoms, but when they do occur, common symptoms include:
- Hot flashes
- Sleep disturbance
- Vaginal and urinary changes
- Reduced or diminished interest in sex
- Emotional changes or mood swings
Treatment for Symptoms of Menopause
Hormone therapy may be prescribed to relieve the symptoms of menopause. Estrogen can be beneficial in reducing symptoms and preventing bone loss. Women who still have their uterus may be given a combination of estrogen and progestin to reduce the risk of uterine cancer that can occur when estrogen is used alone.
Women who don’t take replacement hormones may be given a medication to prevent or slow bone loss such as bisphosphonates, calcitonin, parathyroid hormone or selective estrogen receptor modulators.