When a woman permanently stops having menstrual periods, she has reached the stage of life called menopause. You have reached menopause only after it has been a full year since your last period. This means you have not had any bleeding, including spotting, for 12 months in a row.
The transition phase before menopause is often referred to as perimenopause. During this transition time before menopause, the supply of mature eggs in a woman’s ovaries diminishes and ovulation becomes irregular. At the same time, the production of estrogen and progesterone decreases. It is the big drop in estrogen levels that causes most of the symptoms of menopause.
Although the average age of menopause is 51, menopause can actually happen any time from the 30s to the mid-50s or later. Generally, a woman tends to have menopause at about the same age as her mother did.
Menopause can also happen for reasons other than natural reasons. These include:
Premature menopause. Premature menopause may happen when there is ovarian failure before the age of 40. It may be associated with smoking, radiation exposure, chemotherapeutic drugs, or surgery that impairs the ovarian blood supply. Premature ovarian failure is also called primary ovarian insufficiency.
Surgical menopause. Surgical menopause may follow the removal of one or both ovaries, or radiation of the pelvis, including the ovaries, in premenopausal women. This results in an abrupt menopause. These women often have more severe menopausal symptoms than if they were to have menopause naturally.
These are the most common symptoms of menopause. However, each woman may experience symptoms differently. Some have few and less severe symptoms, while others have more frequent and stressful ones. The signs and symptoms of menopause may include:
- Hot Flashes
- Vaginal Atrophy
- Relaxation of the Pelvic Muscles
- Mental Health
- Hair Growth