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Woman health. Menopause-when?.

Most women think of menopause as the time of life when their menstrual periods end. This usually occurs during middle age, when women are also experiencing other hormonal and physical changes. For this reason, menopause is sometimes called the "change of life".

What doctors officially call menopause is an event - namely, the point at which you get your last menstrual period. This permanent cessation of menstruation is usually marked by 12 consecutive months of having no periods. Most women experience menopause from 40 to 58 years of age, with a median age of 51.4 years.

In women, the ovaries produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone control a woman's periods and other processes in her body. As a woman approaches menopause, her ovaries gradually makes less and less of these hormones.

As hormone levels fall, a woman's pattern of menstrual bleeding usually becomes irregular. Many women experience light, skipped or late periods for several months to a year before their periods stop altogether. Some women may experience heavier-than-normal bleeding. It is important to realize that until menopause is complete, a woman still can become pregnant even when periods are light or missed.

As estrogen levels fall, the vagina's natural lubricants decrease. The lining of the vagina gradually becomes thinner and less elastic (less able to stretch). These changes can cause sex to be uncomfortable or painful. They can also lead to inflammation in the vagina known as atrophic vaginitis. These changes can make a woman more likely to develop vaginal infections from yeast or bacterial overgrowth and urinary tract infections.

Sleep often is disturbed by nighttime hot flashes. A long-term lack of sleep can lead to changes in moods and emotions. The chemical changes that happen during menopause do not increase the risk of depression. However, many women experience major life changes during their middle age including menopause and sleep disturbances, which can increase the risk of developing depression.

Some women report irritability or other mood changes. Irritability is commonly caused by poor sleep resulting from nighttime hot flashes. A number of women, however, do not feel irritable.

Before menopause, women have lower rates of heart attack and stroke than men. After menopause, however, the rate of heart disease in women continues to rise and equals that of men after age 65.

Another test is endometrial biopsy. An endometrial biopsy is an office procedure in which a tiny piece of endometrial tissue from inside the uterus is taken and examined under a microscope for signs of cancer. This test may be done when a woman is having irregular, frequent or heavy bleeding, but it is not routinely recommended as a test for menopause.

Perimenopause usually lasts three to five years but it can take as few as two years or as many as eight years for some women. The changes in the body that occur during menopause last for the rest of a woman's life. However hot flashes usually improve over time, becoming less frequent and less severe

The use of soy products in the diet such as tofu may have benefit for some women. Soy has small amounts of phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) that may help relieve hot flashes. Researchers speculate that the soy-based diet of Japanese women plays a role in preventing hot flashes. However, it's not clear whether Japanese women have fewer hot flashes or whether they report this problem less often.

Menopause-when?. Woman health.






Terms and definitions

Anxiety


Chlorella


Estrogen


Menopause


PMS


Perimenopause


Progesterone


Biopsy


Climacteric


Depression


Estrogen


Hormone


Osteoporosis


Premenstrual syndrome


Progesterone


Stress


Testosterone


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Information in this document about Woman health named Menopause-when? is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. The information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments of Woman health. Additionally, the manufacture and distribution of herbal substances are not regulated now in the United States, and no quality standards currently exist like brand name medicine and generic medicine. Talk about Woman health to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright 2007 Healthcare Association of Brazilia, Woman health department.






























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