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What is Menopause?

Menopause is the natural end to menstruation (monthly periods). Most American women experience this around the age of 50. Some women can experience menopause symptoms as early as 40 years old or as late as 60 years old. If menopause occurs prior to age 40, it is considered abnormal and is called premature menopause.

Menopause is the result of the depletion of egg cells from the ovaries and the reduction of female hormones. Menopause is considered complete when you have been without your period for a full year. Rather than a single point in time, menopause is a process or transitional period when women move away from the phase of life where reproduction is possible.

Menopause is a normal part of life. It marks the end of a long, slow process that begins in the mid-30’s, when ovaries...

Menopause is caused by a reduced presence of female hormones. Menopause is a natural process, which usually occurs around the age of 50. However, if the normal menstrual cycle is interrupted prior to age 40, it is thought to be abnormal and is referred to as premature menopause.

Irregular Periods and Irregular Ovulation

  • Shorter or longer cycles
  • Heavier or lighter bleeding
  • Spotting in between periods
  • Reduced fertility

Read more on menopause and pregnancy here.

Hot Flashes

  • Reported in up to 80% of American women
  • Sudden onset of a feeling of heat
  • Face and neck flush
  • Lasting 30 seconds to five minutes
  • Occurring at any time
  • Usually stop within a few years after menopause
  • In addition to being uncomfortable, hot flashes can also cause
    • anxiety
    • social embarrassment
    • psychological distress

Vaginal and Bladder Problems

  • Skin in genital area becomes drier and thinner
  • Sexual intercourse may become painful
  • Vaginal dryness and burning
  • Urinary tract problems may occur, such...

Natural menopause is usually diagnosed when a woman has not had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. Some clinicians will diagnose after six months without menses. Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, family and medical history, and perform a physical exam. You may have blood tests, a pelvic exam, and a Pap smear.

Most women in their late 40s and early 50s will have menopausal symptoms. Your doctor will consider testing for other possible causes of these symptoms. In most cases, hormone tests are not needed.

Your healthcare provider may give you a follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) test, which measures the level of follicle-stimulating hormone in your blood. This is done to confirm that you are in menopause. Women most likely to have this test are...

Because menopause is a natural biological event in every woman’s life, there is no way to prevent it from occurring.

You can, however, take measures designed to reduce your risk of diseases associated with estrogen loss, including osteoporosis and heart disease.



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This website provides information for consumers and professionals on women’s health and reproductive issues, including patient education, news releases, and a bookstore.


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Description of Services Provided

This website provides articles, new releases, fact sheets, and press releases, as well as referral for consumers and professionals on a variety of women’s health issues.


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