Menopause, also known as the climacteric, is the time in most women’s lives when menstrual periods stop permanently, and she is no longer able to have children. Menopause typically occurs between 45 and 55 years of age.
Medical professionals often define menopause as having occurred when a woman has not had any vaginal bleeding for a year. It may also be defined by a decrease in hormone production by the ovaries. In those who have had surgery to remove the uterus but still have ovaries, menopause may be viewed to have occurred at the time of the surgery or when hormone levels fall. Following the removal of the uterus, symptoms typically occur earlier at the average of 45 years of age.
Physical symptoms include: lack of energy, joint soreness, stiffness, back pain, breast enlargement, breast pain, heart palpitations, headache, dizziness, dry, itchy skin, thinning, tingling skin, weight gain, urinary incontinence, urinary urgency, interrupted sleeping patterns, heavy night sweats, hot flashes.
- Psychological symptoms include: anxiety, poor memory, inability to concentrate, depressive mood, irritability, mood swings.
- Sexual changes include: painful intercourse, vaginal dryness, less interest in sexual activity.
- Increased risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis
- Possible but contentious increased risk of atherosclerosis
- Dysfunctional uterine bleeding as part of menstruation. Women approaching menopause often experience this due to the hormonal changes that accompany the menopause transition. In post-menopausal women however, any genital bleeding is an alarming symptom that requires an appropriate study to rule out the possibility of malignant diseases. However, spotting or bleeding may simply be related to vaginal atrophy, a benign sore (polyp or lesion) or may be a functional endometrial response. The European Menopause and Andropause Society has released guidelines for assessment of the endometrium, which is usually the main source of spotting or bleeding.
- Atrophic vaginitis – Thinning of the membranes of the vulva, the vagina, the cervix, and also the outer urinary tract, along with considerable shrinking and loss in elasticity of all of the outer and inner genital areas.
Increased susceptibility to inflammation and infection, for example vaginal candidiasis, and urinary tract infections
- The risk of acute myocardial infarction and other cardiovascular diseases rises sharply after menopause, but the risk can be reduced by managing risk factors, such as tobacco smoking, hypertension, increased blood lipids and body weight.