Menopause is a normal, natural event—defined as the final menstrual period and usually confirmed when a woman has missed her periods for 12 consecutive months (in the absence of other obvious causes). Menopause is associated with reduced functioning of the ovaries due to aging, resulting in lower levels of estrogen and other hormones. It marks the permanent end of fertility. Menopause occurs, on average, at age 51. The years between puberty (when periods start) and menopause are called premenopause.
Physical signs of menopause begin many years before the final menstrual period. This menopause transition phase is called perimenopause (literally meaning “around menopause”). It can last 6 years or more, and ends 1 year after the final menstrual period.
Induced menopause, which can occur at any age between the first and last periods, is when menstrual periods stop due to a medical intervention, surgical removal of both ovaries, or sometimes cancer treatments.
Menopause symptoms related to medically induced menopause can be similar to those from natural menopause, including hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and vaginal dryness. But premenopausal women who experience induced menopause are faced with menopause and its effects without the gradual adjustment time of perimenopause. The abrupt loss of estrogen may result in more sudden and intense symptoms. Women who experience induced menopause usually have a greater need for treatment to control their menopause-associated symptoms than women who undergo natural menopause. And because these women are often younger, they need ongoing monitoring and sometimes treatment to lower the risk of menopause associated diseases such as osteoporosis later in life.
Menopause, whether natural or induced, is called premature when women reach it at age 40 or younger. Premature menopause can be genetic, the result of one or more poorly understood autoimmune processes, or it can be induced with a medical intervention.
The North American Menopause Society maintains a search feature on this Web site for those women in the United States or Canada who are searching for physicians and other healthcare providers interested in helping them manage their health through menopause and beyond. Those who have passed a competency examination leading to the prestigious credential of NAMS Menopause Practitioner are noted in the displayed results.
►Find a Menopause Clinician now
This site complies
with the HONcode
information: verify here.