What is Menopause?
Association of Women for the Advancement of Research and Education Today is
 
ProjectAWARE logo


    You are here:  Home > Menopause Experience > Menopause Bookmark and Share

 

  Menopause Experience
  Menopause
Perimenopause
The 35 Symptoms
Premature Menopause
Postmenopause
Personal Stories
  Managing Menopause
  The Options
HRT
Alternatives to HRT
Exercise
Lifestyle
  Health Issues
  Breast Cancer
Heart Health
Osteoporosis
  Resources
  Article Archives
Books & Newsletters
Finding a Doctor
Glossary of Terms
Health Links
News Stories
Pharmacies
Studies & Trials
  Docs Corner
  Hormone Health
Wellness & You
Q & A
  about
  Who We Are
Kudos
  Advertising Statement
Privacy & Confidentiality
Link to Us
Support AWARE
Contact Us
  bottom
   

 

What is Menopause?

There is significant disagreement about the definition of menopause. Some confusion exists because there are several stages of the natural menopause process. Technically, natural menopause is the transition between perimenopause and postmenopause, the entire process culminating with the ceasing of the menses, generally around age 50 for most women.

This natural menopause process itself is usually identified retrospectively, when it's been a year since a last period. Susun Weed, in her book Menopausal Years: The Wise Woman Way, describes natural menopause as a metamorphosis, a change from one person to another, similar to puberty. It can be viewed as a hormonal shift mirroring puberty.

Natural menopause occurs when the monthly cycle of ovulation comes to an end. This is because the ovarian supply of follicles and eggs declines sharply as a woman approaches menopause. During this time, called perimenopause, which can last anywhere from five to fifteen years, the brain continues to send out hormones trying to stimulate the development of ovarian follicles, and it is common for a woman's ovaries to respond erratically, so that her hormones fluctuate a great deal from month to month. These fluctuations are responsible for many of the symptoms of perimenopause.

Eventually, though, the ovaries are no longer able to develop an egg for ovulation. Ovarian production of estrogen goes into a permanent decline, and progesterone is no longer produced. The lining of the uterus thins, since it isn't being stimulated by high estrogen levels each month, and monthly bleeding stops. Menopause has occurred. Don't discount the importance of the postmenopausal ovary, however! It continues to produce hormones even after ovulation ends, producing some estrogen and also androgens (male hormones) including testosterone. Some of the androgens are converted to estrogen (estrone) in a woman's fat tissue.

Apart from the natural menopause transition (perimenopause to postmenopause) which most women will experience, some may face the challenge of a premature menopause in the form of Premature Ovarian Failure (POF) or Surgical / Medical (instant) Menopause.

AWARE endeavors to separate the facts regarding these various facets of menopause so that you can sort through the data according to your special needs and desire for information. Menopause, whether entered naturally or through surgical or medical intervention, is inevitable for women who live long enough, and it deserves its nickname…"the change".

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Extensive patient resources exist within the CenterWatch, Clinical Trials Listing Service: Listing of Clinical Trials, Listing of NIH Studies, Patient Notification Service, Newly Approved Drug Therapies and Background Information on Clinical Research. Additionally the site has a list of other health-related web sites appropriate to patient associations and patient support groups, as well as additional resources for patients and patient advocates, by clinical specialty.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

RELATED
When does Perimenopause begin?
What are the 35 symptoms typical of the change of life?
What are some ways to manage these symptoms?
Premature, or instant, menopause is brought on by surgical intervention.
What is Menopause?
Have I reached Postmenopause yet?
Here are some tips on exercise.
Things you can do to keep your heart healthy.
Can I get pregnant during perimenopause?
What is a phantom period?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 1997-2010 ProjectAWARE. All rights reserved.

Questions or comments about this site? Contact the Website Editor, <aware.editor@project-aware.org>

Updated 09/29/2010