The transition period in a woman's life when the ovaries stop producing eggs,
menstrual activity decreases and eventually ceases, and the body decreases the
production of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Causes, Incidence and Risk Factors
Menopause, which normally occurs between the
ages of 40 and 55, is a natural event in a woman's life. On average, menopause
begins at about age 51. During menopause ovulation (egg production) ceases,
eliminating the possibility of pregnancy, and menstruation becomes less frequent
and eventually stops. In some women, menstrual activity stops suddenly, but
usually it tapers off, both in amount and duration of flow, and frequently the
menstrual periods become more closely or more widely spaced. This irregularity
may last for 2 or 3 years before menstruation finally ceases.
Symptoms, when present, may include:
Signs And Tests
A Pap smear may indicate changes in the vaginal lining (mucosa) caused by
changes in estrogen levels. Blood and urine tests can be used to measure the
levels of estrogen, progesterone, and plasma estradiol and estrone (part of the
reproductive steroid group).
Two factors have been identified as influencing when menopause occurs:
-Familial factors as well as genetic polymorphisms of the
estrogen receptor influence the age of onset of perimenopause (as well as
influencing the risk for surgical menopause).
-Current smoking has been identified as a cause of earlier
menopause, producing a shift of approximately 1.5 years. There is a
dose-response relationship with the number of cigarettes smoked and the duration
Limited data support the association of the timing of menopause with the
No link has been found between menopause age and use of oral contraceptives,
socioeconomic or marital status, race, or age at menarche.
Natural menopause usually requires no treatment. Surgical menopause that
occurs prior to natural menopause may require estrogen replacement therapy (ERT).
Not all postmenopausal women need to be treated with ERT. Each woman should
discuss her individual risks and benefits with her health care provider.
Some side effects of estrogen replacement therapy include:
To reduce the risks of estrogen replacement therapy and still gain the
benefits of the treatment, physicians may recommend:
Adding progesterone to the estrogen.
Adding testosterone to the estrogen.
Using the lowest possible dose of estrogen.
Having frequent and regular physical exams, including a pelvic
examination and Pap smear to detect problems as early as possible.
Although menopause is a difficult period for some, most women will experience
menopause without long-term problems. Many women report an increase in energy,
more self-confidence, and a better attitude.
Calling Your Health Care Provider
Call for an appointment with your health-care provider if you are a woman
older than age 40 who is experiencing the symptoms of menopause and would like
treatment for them. Specific symptoms may include:
Irregular menstrual periods
Call your physician if you are postmenopausal and are experiencing any
(Source: North American Menopause Society)
AIHC || AIHC Home || Health Section || Cultural Section || AIHC's Links || Outreach || Webrings || Useful Hotlines || Win Our Awards! || Awards We've Won || Health Section || Acanthosis Nigricans || Ankylosing Spondylitis || Asthma Facts || Bi-polar Disorder Facts || Breast Cancer Facts || Cataracts || Cervical Cancer Facts || Chlamydia Facts || Colon Cancer Facts || Cystic Fibrosis || Chronic Fatigue Syndrome || Depression Facts || Diabetes Facts || Diabetes, Type 2 || Diabetic Retinopathy || Diptheria Facts || Domestic Violence || Eating Disorders || Elder Women's Health Facts || Elder Abuse Facts || FAS/FAE Facts || Gallbladder Disease Facts || Gestational Diabetes || Gonorrhea Facts> || Heart Disease Facts || Hepatitis Facts || HIV/AIDS Facts || Hypertension Facts || Hypothyroidism Facts || Insulin Resistance Syndrome || Kidney Disease || Lactose Intolerance || Lung Cancer || Lupus Facts || Menopause Facts || Multiple Sclerosis || Obesity Facts || Oral Clefting || Osteoporosis Facts || Parkinson's Disease || Personality Disorders || Phenylketonuria (PKU) Facts || Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) || Pneumonia Facts || Pre-Diabetes || Proteinuria Facts || Rheumatoid Arthritis || Reye's Syndrome || Schizophrenia Facts || Scleroderma Facts || Seizure Disorders || Stroke Information || SIDS || Substance Abuse Facts || Suicide Prevention || Testicular Cancer || Tobacco Abuse || Traditional Herbal Medicine || Tuberculosis Facts ||