IntroductionMenopause is a normal and natural part of a woman’s aging process. Menopause, commonly called “the change of life”, occurs around the age of 50. During this time, hormones change and menstruation (“getting periods”) stops. Common symptoms include hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia, night sweats, and irregular periods. Menopausal onset age, duration, and symptoms differ among women. Your doctor can recommend ways to ease the symptoms that bother you.
The internal female reproductive system includes the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, and vagina. The ovaries are two small organs that produce eggs (ova) and hormones. During a female’s reproductive years, an ovary typically releases one mature egg each month. Two fallopian tubes extend from near the ovaries to the uterus. The fallopian tubes transport the mature eggs to the uterus (womb).
The uterus is a pear-shaped organ where a baby grows in during pregnancy. During the reproductive years, the lining of the uterus undergoes cyclic changes to facilitate and maintain pregnancy. The uterus is joined to the vagina by the cervix. The vagina is a muscular passageway that extends from the cervix to the external female genitalia.
In the past, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was used to treat symptoms of menopause and prevent osteoporosis. However, a major research study by the Women’s Health Initiative found that the risks of HRT greatly outweighed the benefits. HRT may increase the risk of heart attack, strokes, breast cancer, and blood clots. You should carefully discuss the appropriateness of HRT with your doctor. It is also important to discuss the vast array of herbal supplements on the market and their safety and efficacy before you take them.
Am I at Risk
Women typically experience menopause at age 50, but it can occur earlier or later than that. Menopause may be induced if the ovaries are surgically removed. Cigarette smoking appears to be associated with premature menopause, before the age of 40.
Post-menopausal women are at risk for developing bone loss and osteoporosis. Cholesterol levels also rise during menopause. This can increase a woman’s risk for a heart attack. Ask your doctor about appropriate screening tests.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on February 16, 2022. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.