The menopause is the period of time within which a woman’s natural fertility begins to decline.

Menopause

The menopause is the period of time within which a woman’s ovaries become unresponsive to hormonal stimulation and stop producing mature eggs on a monthly cycle.

Description

A gradual cessation of menstruation or a lengthening of the time between each period is the main signal for menopausal onset. It naturally occurs anywhere between the mid-thirties to mid-fifties, but typically between the ages of 45-55. Clinical confirmation that a woman is experiencing menopause is achieved through the results of hormone assays. Postmenopausal women have elevated levels of serum follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and serum luteinizing hormone (LH).

FSH and LH are important hormones in the female reproductive system helping to regulate and stimulate ovarian cycles through feedback mechanisms to the ovaries and the hypothalamus. Peri-menopausal women are women who have begun to move from the reproductive stage to the non-reproductive and are experiencing menstrual irregularity and symptoms such as hot flushes and sweating. During this stage, levels of FSH have increased. As the menopause continues to progress in the peri-menopausal stage, FSH levels continue to rise and LH also begins to rise until both hormone levels are well elevated past their normal values.

The end result is low oestrogen and progesterone levels which can have the effect of causing the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause.

Serious health conditions affect postmenopausal women who show a rapid loss of bone density (osteoporosis) in the ten years following menopause and no longer have the pre-menopausal protection from ischaemic heart disease due to hormonal changes.

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