It is something commonly referred to as “the change” and can be a frightening concept for some women, usually because menopausal symptoms vary from woman to woman in duration and in intensity. It is a common myth that all women suffer, but it is impossible to predict the onset and severity of symptoms. For many women, I think it’s safe to say, menopause remains a mystery in many respects. So let’s take a closer look.
What causes Menopause?
Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s aging process. It can happen anytime between age 42 and 56. The term menopause is used to refer to the entire transition from what some call “perimenopause”, when a woman first begins to experience menopausal symptoms, to up to a few years following the actual cessation of the menstrual period. A woman is considered to have entered menopause when she has gone without a menstrual period for 12 months.
A woman is born with a finite number of eggs and towards the late thirties the ovaries make less estrogen and progesterone, which regulate menstruation. “[F]ewer potential eggs are ripening in your ovaries each month, and ovulation is less predictable ... the post-ovulation surge in progesterone – the hormone that prepares your body for pregnancy – becomes less dramatic. Your fertility declines ...” (Mayoclinic.com).
Menopause can also happen because of a full hysterectomy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and primary ovarian insufficiency, which results in menopause before the age of 40 in about 1 percent of women.
In natural menopause, “[p]erimenopause typically begins several years before menopause, when the ovaries gradually produce less estrogen ... [and] lasts up until ... the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. Menopause [as we’ve already seen] is the point when it’s been a year since a woman has had her last menstrual period ... Postmenopause ... are the years after menopause ... menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, ease for most women.” (WebMD)
Symptoms of Menopause