The word “Menopause” is rooted in the Greek language and literally means “the end of menstruation.” Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when her menstrual cycle eventually comes to a stop, and her body goes through physical and hormonal changes that no longer allow her to produce eggs. This process usually occurs naturally for women between the ages of 45 and 55, the average age being 51. During this time, women produce decreased levels of estrogen and progesterone, and periods occur less frequently until they cease completely. Menopause is considered complete when a woman does not have a single period within the span of one year, and symptoms can vary for every woman. While most women have a decrease in their periods, 20% may have an increase in bleeding. These symptoms can last 5 or more years and can include heart racing or palpitations, hot flashes, night sweats, flushness of the skin, insomnia, irritability, depression, anxiety, urine leakage, vaginal dryness, or infection, and joint aches/pains.
The Truth About Hormones
The extremes of a woman’s fertility, puberty, and menopause are remarkably similar. Both involve hormonal imbalances, unpredictable ovulation leading to unpredictable menstrual cycles. Despite the bad press given to one particular hormone replacement pill, Prempro, all hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has taken a big hit. HRT has its place in perimenopause, which is the 5-10 years leading up to the cessation of your menses.