What is Menopause?

What is Menopause?

Menopause is a natural and inevitable phase in a woman’s life, marking the end of her reproductive years.  It is a normal biological process that occurs in most women between the ages of 45 and 55, although it can happen earlier or later.

Menopause is defined as the permanent cessation of menstrual periods, signalling the end of a woman’s reproductive years. This happens when the ovaries stop producing hormones estrogen and progesterone, which brings about changes in a woman’s body and state of mind.

Some women experience premature menopause when they undergo hysterectomy where their ovaries are removed. This is known as a surgical menopause, where the woman will experience menopause immediately after operation, regardless of age.

Common Symptoms

Menopause can bring about a wide range of symptoms, and these experiences can vary greatly from woman to woman. Some common symptoms include:

  1. Irregular periods: As women approach menopause, their menstrual cycles often become irregular, with skipped periods or longer and shorter cycles.
  2. Hot flashes and night sweats: Sudden feelings of intense heat, often accompanied by sweating. This can be disruptive to daily life and sleep.
  3. Vaginal dryness and discomfort: Decreased estrogen levels can lead to vaginal dryness, itching, and pain during sexual intercourse.
  4. Mood swings and emotional changes: Fluctuating hormones can contribute to mood swings, irritability, and even depression or anxiety in some women.
  5. Sleep disturbances: Night sweats and other symptoms can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to fatigue and daytime sleepiness.
  6. Weight gain: Many women notice weight gain, particularly around the abdominal area, during menopause.