What Is Menopause?
Menopause is defined as being the state you arrive in a year after you stop menstruating. It generally happens to women when they reach their 40s or 50s, but in some cases it can happen earlier. In the US, the average age for menopause is 51.
However, when people talk about “going through menopause,” they generally are referring to the transition period before menopause is reached. Technically, this is called “perimenopause.”
Sometimes, people go through menopause earlier because they smoke, have had chemotherapy or radiation therapy, or have certain autoimmune diseases, genetic factors, or low body fat.
During perimenopause, the following symptoms are common: Irregular periods, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, weight gain because of a slowed metabolism, dry skin, thinning hair, and breast size changes. Sometimes, women also experience problems sleeping and mood changes. But even when periods are less regular, it is still possible to become pregnant.
It should be noted that an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can cause symptoms similar to those experienced during menopause, so you should have your Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels checked if you suspect this may be the case.
What Causes Menopause?
Menopause is brought on by the ovaries gradually beginning to produce less estrogen and less progesterone. Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) levels increase and estrogen (estradiol) levels decrease.
As a natural part of aging, hormone levels fluctuate, and many women produce fewer eggs and fewer good quality eggs. The menstrual cycle often becomes less predictable until it finally stops altogether.
Disclaimer: The statements made on this page have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. If a condition persists, please contact your physician or healthcare provider. The information provided is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare provider, and should not be construed as medical advice.