What Is Menopause?

Menopause marks the end of menstruation, and is a normal part of aging. Menopause is officially confirmed 12 months after a woman’s last menstrual period, as long as there is not another medical cause. As a woman approaches menopause, levels of estrogens decrease. This decrease in levels of estrogens plays a role in the symptoms experienced. An increase in follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) and luteinizing hormones (LH) are also thought to play a role in causing hot flashes.

Receptors for estrogens are located throughout the body. With depleted levels of estrogens, many physical functions may be affected during the transition into menopause and afterward. Every woman is different. Some experience no symptoms. Others may have severe daytime hot flashes as well as hot flashes at night, which may disturb sleep. These symptoms may also be a sign of other health issues. You should speak with a healthcare professional about the cause of your symptoms and how to manage them.

Today, women in the United States live a third of their lives after menopause. Many lead active lives well into their 80s and even their 90s. So it’s important to continue to take good care of yourself.

A woman can enter menopause in one of two ways.

  1. Naturally, as a result of aging. Usually occurs between age 40 and 58, typically around age 51.
  2. Through medical intervention
  • Surgically

     – When the ovaries are removed and the uterus is preserved (less common)

     – When the ovaries and uterus are both removed

  • Chemotherapy

     – Can damage ovaries, which may lead to early menopause

  • Radiation Therapy 

     – Can damage ovaries, which may lead to early menopause

 

Talk to your healthcare professional about treatments for symptoms you may be experiencing.

    The Menopause Transition

    • Perimenopause is the time period leading up to menopause, when levels of estrogens fluctuate as they gradually decline. As these levels decline, many women experience irregular periods. Daytime and nighttime hot flashes may also occur. 
    • Menopause is 12 months after your last menstrual period. Your healthcare professional can confirm that you’re officially in menopause after you’ve missed your period for 12 consecutive months. 
    • Postmenopause begins after menopause and continues for the rest of your life. Some women may experience daytime and nighttime hot flashes and bone loss that may lead to osteoporosis. 

     

    Assess Your Symptoms

    Record the type and severity and share the results with your healthcare professional.

    Get the Menopause Symptom Assessor

    Talk to Your Healthcare Professional

    Bring a list of your questions to your next appointment.

    Get Your Menopause Discussion Guide