Definition of Menopause
Menopause is the transition period in a woman’s life when her ovaries stop producing eggs, her body produces less estrogen and progesterone, and menstruation becomes less frequent, eventually stopping altogether.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Menopause is a natural event that normally occurs between the ages of 45 and 55.
In some women, menstrual flow comes to a sudden halt. More commonly, it slowly stops over time. During this time, the menstrual periods generally become either more closely or more widely spaced. This irregularity may last for 1 – 3 years before menstruation finally ends completely. Before this the cycle length may shorten to as little as every 3 weeks.
Signs and tests
Blood and urine tests can be used to measure changes in hormone levels that may signal when a woman is close to menopause or has already gone through menopause. Examples of these tests include:
Treatment with hormones may be helpful if you have severe symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood issues, or vaginal dryness.
David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., and Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. – 9/11/2010