The term “menopause” means cessation of menstruation. It is also sometimes called "change of life".
Menopause is the beginning of a distinct life phase, with its own particular health issues.
Symptoms of menopause
Menopause-related changes, or symptoms, usually begin approximately six years before natural menopause. Fluctuations in the levels of hormones produced by the ageing ovaries lead to physiological short-term changes.
As the ovaries become less functional they produce less oestrogen, a state to which the body subsequently reacts. Because oestrogen affects large portions of the body, hormonal changes are felt in a number of ways. For some women the associated discomforts are minimal, while others must deal with severe symptoms and risk factors for disease.
A gradual decrease in oestrogen allows the body to slowly adjust, and symptoms may come on slowly and be subtle. In some women, however, a sudden decrease occurs, causing severe symptoms. This often happens with surgical menopause.
Some women experience few or no symptoms; others experience various symptoms ranging from mild to fairly severe. About 75 to 95% of women experience some symptoms; up to 50% and more report that symptoms interfere with daily life. They may last from a few months to several years. Larger women may have fewer symptoms because fat cells manufacture a form of oestrogen. If symptoms occur, they may include:
- Hot flushes (hot flashes)
- Vaginal dryness
- Urinary tract problems
- Changes in menstrual patterns
- Increased premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms
- Mood Changes
- Fluctuations in sexual desire or response
- Fatigue and/or Insomnia
- Decreasing fertility
- Body and skin changes