Menopause, is when a woman stops menstruating. It is a natural event, not a disease or illness. However, for some women the physical and emotional symptoms can be difficult.

Menopause involves hormonal changes that may cause physical symptoms. The ovaries stop producing female sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone), and estrogen levels decline over several years. That decline can cause:

For some women, menopause may bring on feelings of sadness. However, it is important to remember that menopause does not mean an end to your sexuality, or that you are any less feminine. In fact, some women find the years after menopause to be a time of freedom, when they no longer have to think about having a period or becoming pregnant.

Today, an estimated 50 million women in the United States have reached menopause. Most women will spend at least one-third of their lives in or beyond menopause.

Technically, menopause is considered complete when a woman has not had a period for an entire year. On average, menopause occurs at age 51, but it varies from person to person. Because menopause is a process that happens over several years, it is divided into two phases:

Another type of menopause, known as surgical menopause, happens if both ovaries are removed for medical reasons. This may be done if you have a hysterectomy, the removal of the uterus.

After menopause, women lose the protective effects of estrogen and are at increased risk for osteoporosis and heart disease. There are a variety of treatments available, however, to help ease the symptoms and reduce health risks associated with menopause.

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Review Date: 9/29/2015  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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