At a certain time in every woman's life, the ovaries cease production of eggs and the menstrual cycle ends. A woman is born with a finite number of eggs that cause the menstruation and ovulation process. Once these eggs run out, those processes end as well. This event brings about physical and emotional effects for women as their bodies adjust to the changes. Menopause usually occurs naturally after the age of 40. The average age of menopause is 51.8. Early menopause can occur as a result of disease, damage to the ovaries, or smoking.
Menopause is diagnosed when a menstrual period has been absent for 6-12 months. However, the entire process takes several years and begins when the ovaries start producing less estrogen. This stage is known as perimenopause and is when symptoms may begin. Menopause symptoms include:
- Bladder control symptoms
- Hot flashes
- Irregular vaginal bleeding
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
Not all women experience symptoms of menopause. Symptoms may be mild or severe. These symptoms can last from the perimenopause stage and for several years after menopause. The loss of estrogen production also increases the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease and Alzheimer's disease.
Effective treatment for most menopause symptoms and for reducing the associated risks are available and your doctor can help decide which options are best for you.