Dr. Heward shares what menopause is.
Menopause is essentially the cessation of the regular monthly menstrual cycle, at least as we define it in human beings. Clinically, we define it as a period of time, sometimes six months, sometimes a year, usually a year if you want to be conservative, where a woman has gone without a period, and many people add the additional criterion that FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) levels exceed a specific threshold before you get a diagnosis clinically of menopause. Sometimes that threshold is 30 mg/dl and sometimes it’s 40 mg/dl; it depends upon the clinical guidelines that are being used.
The funny thing about menopause itself is that, there is no real universally recognized and accepted definition. I just published a paper in the “Journal of Comparative Medicine” on menopause in chimpanzees and was criticized because of the definition I used for that in chimps.
Chimpanzees go through a period of reproductive senescence, very similar to that that we see in humans, but many people have argued for many years that they don’t experience anything like menopause that we see in human beings. One of the interesting questions in humans is why do we live so long after menopause if the purpose of reproductive function or the purpose of life is to reproduce, and why do women live 30 years longer than their reproductive capability? And there are a lot of interesting hypotheses in answer to that question.
About Dr. Heward, Ph.D.:
Dr. Christopher B. Heward is past-President of Kronos Science Laboratory. His primary responsibility was providing scientific and technical leadership for all laboratory activities. He oversaw the development and implementation of the clinical laboratory testing program; assisted in designing and refining both internally and externally sponsored clinical studies; directed and coordinated diagnostic product research and development; administered laboratory and patient databases; was principal investigator for the Kronos Longitudinal Aging Study (KLAS); and communicated Kronos’ discoveries and advances to lay and scientific audiences via presentations and publications. Dr. Heward’s research interests included healthy aging, endocrinology, oxidative stress, Alzheimer’s disease, prion disease (TSE) and menopause. Dr. Heward attended the University of Arizona and received a Bachelor of Arts degrees from both the Department of Psychology and the Department of Chemistry, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree from the Department of Biology. He earned his PhD from the Department of Biology in 1981.
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