What is Menopause?
Technically the term menopause refers to the permanent ending of monthly periods, but in general use it often embraces the wide range of accompanying symptoms which make up the climacteric, or “change of life”. This phase of a woman’s life, when her ovaries stop producing eggs and her fertility declines and eventually ceases, may begin anywhere from the early for ties to the mid-fifties and usually takes two or three years. In a few women menstruation may stop suddenly with no previous change in the cycle, but in most women the menstrual cycle becomes irregular. Often periods become less heavy and occur further apart. However, they may occur more often, or follow the usual timing but with some missing altogether. Bleeding or spotting between normal periods, or after sexual intercourse, should always be discussed with your doctor – as should any bleeding that occurs a year or more after the last period. During the menopause, the ovaries reduce and finally cease production of not only eggs but also of estrogen, the hormone that maintains the female reproductive function. Some estrogen is still made somewhere in the body, particularly beneath the layers of fat beneath the skin, so plumper women experience less effects.
Signs and Symptoms of Menopause
Loss of estrogen brings about such symptoms as:
- Hot flushes
- Sweating at night
- More frequent need to pass urine
- Uncomfortable lack of lubricating fluid in the vagina
- Lack of concentration
- Mood swings, and