Menopause is the time in life where the ovaries begin to shut down production of the hormones that regulate cycles and allow for ovulation. At a certain point in life, the ovary runs out of viable eggs and so the production of these hormones is gradually slowed down until ovulation ceases altogether. The true criterion that is recognized is when a woman has not had a period in 1 year.
The slowing down of the ovaries is a process of which there is 2 distinct times. The first is perimenopause or the time before menopause and postmenopause, the time after. Perimenopause comes in two stages, known as Phase 1 and Phase 2. Post menopause is when there has been no period for 1 year.
Yes, Phase 1 of perimenopause usually starts in the early to mid forties age group and a woman will notice that her periods are not as regular. It is common for the period to be heavier and closer together, sometimes as close as 21 days. The bleeding pattern also changes. It is not uncommon to have very heavy bleeding for 2-3 days, a day or two of nothing, then another heavy day.
Phase 2 is what most people think of when they think of perimenopause. That is the period of time where the ovary fails for a period of time and the woman will begin to skip periods. However, it is very common after a few months to start cycling again for a while until the woman has had no period for 1 year. That of course is true menopause.
That would be considered postmenopausal bleeding and must be checked by a health care provider. Most of the time it is not serious, however could be the sign of an underlying problem.
Yes, although the absolute average age is 50-51 years old, it is normal anywhere between 40 and 60. This is determined by genetics and other personal details, so some women may go at 45 another may go at 55. There is no test at this time that can determine when the last period will be.
Not all women have symptoms, however the most common are the following:
Yes, treatments are devised by the severity of the symptoms. Women who have very mild symptoms don't need any treatment other than information. For those who experience moderate or severe symptoms the treatments are varied using many modalities and medications. These are tailored to each woman's symptoms and desires as well as being modified through the entire process as circumstances change.
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