What is the Menopause?
The menopause, also commonly referred to as ‘the Change’, is the time in a woman’s life when her periods stop, the ovaries no longer release ‘eggs’ and therefore, she is no longer able to become pregnant naturally.
The number of eggs in our ovaries is determined before we are even born. As women get older, the number of eggs stored in the ovaries decrease and the amount of oestrogen (the main female hormone) produced by the ovaries also reduces. This does not happen overnight, but can occur over several years, as the menopause approaches. This stage is called the ‘peri-menopause’ or ‘climacteric’.
Symptoms occur due to the gradual reduction in oestrogen levels, which can then become more noticeable as we reach the menopause itself, or for a few years afterwards. The exact medical definition of the Menopause is that a woman has gone 12 consecutive months without having a period.
The average age for the menopause in the U.K. is 51, but it is perfectly normal for women to be between 45 and 55 (or older) to go through their menopause. If a woman has her menopause between 40 and 45, we would call this an ‘Early Menopause’; if she is younger than 40 years of age, we would say she had a ‘Premature Menopause’ or had ‘Premature Ovarian Insufficiency’ or POI.
Some women experience menopause as a result of surgery (removal of the ovaries) or as a result of medical treatment, for example chemotherapy.
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