The term menopause refers to the cessation of ovulation and the shutting down of the reproductive system. Menopause is defined as having started after your periods have been missed for 12 successive months.
Prior to this the production of hormones are reducing and some of the classic symptoms are starting to appear. This is known as perimenopause and can start from as early the mid 30’s onwards, although many of the symptoms won’t be noticed until much later.
Perimenopause can last from just a few months to several years.
Following menopause women will progress into post menopause. This is usually marked by a sense of well being and an often referred to feeling of freedom.
A woman can usually expect to experience menopause in her early fifties with the average age for the onset being 52 however the menopause can usually happen at any time between the ages of 42 and 56. In some cases where serious illness such as leukemia or cancer is a factor it can occur from the early twenties onwards. Despite the fact that half the population will have some menopausal symptoms in their life time there is still a lot of conflicting menopause information around. Menopause will affect every woman in a different way; some will have very few symptoms while others will experience very severe symptoms. The key point to remember is that it is totally natural and that it is just the normal cycle of a woman’s life. It’s not a disease and it’s most certainly not something you have to struggle through alone.
Although many of the symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, mood swings, fatigue and decreased libido and are well known; the hormone imbalance can affect most parts of the body resulting in bone problems like osteoporosis, changes to the skin, bladder control problems and psychological problems. As the symptoms differ from person to person there is no wonder cure for all the effects of the menopause. Hormone replacement therapy was thought be the perfect cure but over recent years test and studies have shown that there can be increased risks of side effects such as breast cancer strokes and dementia. Until all the risks are known HRT should only be used to treat specific symptoms over a short term period and only with the full knowledge and agreement of your medical practitioner.
A lot of symptoms are linked to each other so by treating one symptom you may find that other symptoms disappear. Taking steps to minimize night sweats will allow you to sleep better which will in turn reduce the fatigue you feel and that will help alleviate much of the anxiety you may be feeling.