HEALTH CONDITIONS

A comprehensive list of today's common ailments and health conditions.

Menopause

By Angela Young

The definition of menopause is the absence of a menstrual cycle for a period of longer than twelve months. Most women experience perimenopause, which is the time around menopause. This is not a medical term, but is a common term women use to group the symptoms leading up to actual menopause.

During menopause the ovaries stop functioning, meaning they stop producing eggs. The ovaries are the source of most female hormones. During menopause the ovaries stop producing the hormones. Estrogen that ovaries produce helps protect women from the development of osteoporosis, so when the ovaries are no longer producing estrogen osteoporosis is more likely to develop.

Women tend to go through menopause between the ages of 45 and 50 years of age. However, women in the 30’s may also experience menopause and some women may not go through menopause until their 60’s.

Menopause can occur due to extenuating factors such as surgical removal of the ovaries for any number of reasons or chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments can also cause premature menopause. In some cases ovarian failure occurs, meaning a women experiences menopause prior to the age of 40.

Menopause Symptoms

Symptoms of menopause vary widely in women. Some women experience severe side effects that are both physical and psychological, but other women experience very few side effects or no side effects at all.

Irregular vaginal bleeding is a symptom of perimenopause. The bleeding may be light or heavy with cycles that are farther apart or closer together. Each woman will have a different experience and there is no way to really predict how any one woman will experience the bleeding. Other vaginal symptoms include dryness and thinning of the tissues lining the vagina, which can cause itching of the vagina and irritation or pain during intercourse.

Other symptoms include night sweats, hot flashes, increasing risk of urinary tract infection because of the thinning and drying of the urethra, weight gain, fatigue, rapid mood changes, acne and possible hair growth on the chin, chest, upper lip or abdomen because testosterone production continues even though estrogen production is stopping.

Menopause Causes

Most women are born with more than one million eggs with each of their two ovaries holding roughly half of the total number of eggs. As women age they naturally lose eggs and by the age of twelve, most women only have about 400,000 eggs left. As menopause approaches women are usually have approximately 10,000 or fewer eggs.

As menopause approaches the ovary function slows and the production of estrogen lessons. The official cause of menopause is complete end of ovary function in women.

Menopause Diagnosis

There is no single blood test that can help a doctor determine if a woman is experiencing menopause. Most women recognize some symptoms of perimenopause and are aware of the lack of a menstrual cycle. It is important to know that women experiencing perimenopause can still get pregnant, so if a women is no longer menstruating a visit to the doctor is in order. A physician can discuss the symptoms of menopause and may run some tests to rule out other possible causes for the lack of menstruation.

Menopause Treatment

Not all women require treatment for menopause. Treatment for menopause is usually just to treat the symptoms of menopause. Hormone replacement therapy is popular and helps replace the estrogen and progesterone that is lost during menopause. Doctors will work with their patients to determine how much progesterone and estrogen their patients need to replace the hormones that are missing. There is a trial and error process associated with hormone replacement therapy and may take some time to determine the correct amount hormones.


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