What is menopause?

Menopause is a natural biological process in a woman’s life when her period stops. Menopause is defined as occurring 12 months after your last menstrual period and marks the end of menstrual cycles. This stage signals the end of a woman's ability to have children. Menopause happens because the woman's ovaries stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Lower hormone levels may lead to symptoms like night sweats, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness along with thin bones (osteoporosis). Although it also ends fertility, you can stay healthy, vital and sexual. You may notice changes in your body before and after menopause. The transition usually has three parts:
  • Perimenopause. This can begin several years before your last menstrual period. 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 enormous drop in estrogen levels that causes most of the symptoms commonly associated with menopause.
  • Menopause comes next, the end of your menstrual periods. After a full year without a period, one can say they have been “through menopause,” and perimenopause is over. 
  • Postmenopause follows perimenopause and lasts the rest of your life.
Risk factors
  • Smoking
  • Increasing age
  • Hysterectomy
Tests typically aren't needed to diagnose menopause. But under certain circumstances, your doctor may recommend blood tests to check your level of:
  • Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen, because your FSH levels increase and estradiol levels decrease as menopause occurs
  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), because an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can cause symptoms similar to those of menopause
Many effective treatments are available, from lifestyle adjustments to hormone therapy.
  • Average of menopause age is 51 in the United States.
about menopause

  • "Menopause | Menopause Symptoms | MedlinePlus." MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 21 Oct. 2016. Web. 01 May 2017.
  • "Women’s Reproductive Health." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 Feb. 2017. Web. 01 May 2017.
  • "What You Need to Know About Menopause." Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Johns Hopkins Health System, n.d. Web. 01 May 2017.
  • "Menopause." National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 01 May 2017.
  • "Menopause." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 07 Jan. 2015. Web. 01 May 2017.
  • Commissioner, Office Of the. "Women's Health Topics - Menopause." U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Office of the Commissioner, 1 Sept. 2015. Web. 01 May 2017.


Well-woman exams are essential to wellness, health promotion, and disease identification and management. If you haven’t already, consider scheduling your annual well-woman exam and check out this infographic for a brief rundown of what to expect:
annual well-woman examination - what to expect




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