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What is Menopause?

Simply stated, Menopause is a natural, predictable, physical transition that a woman's body goes through which will result with the end of menstruation and the end of childbearing years.

To elaborate on this statement; you are not considered to have reached menopause until you have gone one full year without any bleeding or spotting. The average age for this natural physical transition to occur is approximately 52 years of age.

Although this is considered an expected, natural physical transition by medical science there are many physical symptoms that may accompany this transition. For example; many women complain of the following: hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, sleep disturbances, fuzzy thinking and a lagging libido, just to name a few.

What causes this long list of symptoms?

The biggest culprit is the decrease in production of three very important sex hormones that used to be produced by the ovary. These three hormones are: estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

There are three phases involved with menopause. The first phase is called perimenopause, the second phase is menopause and the third and last phase is post menopause. Each phase has its own unique list of physical and emotional symptoms. All of which can in some way be blamed by the lagging production of the three hormones that were listed above.

Not every woman will experience menopause in a natural way. Some women for example may experience menopause through a surgical procedure which involves removing both her uterus and ovaries. And some women may experience a chemical menopause. This means that chemicals such as radiation or chemotherapy used to treat any form of cancer in the body destroyed the production of hormones produced by the woman‚s ovaries. When a woman's ovaries are not longer able to produce the right amount of estrogen, progesterone or testosterone caused by chemicals put into her body, no matter what age, she will experience the same symptoms as a woman who goes through a natural menopause.

How to find a menopause specialist:

Not every OB-GYN, and certianly not every doctor is versed in the treatment and care of menopause patients. The clinics and doctors listed here have indicated that they have a specialized interest in the area of menopause care. You should ask questions, and be sure that you're going to a doctor who understands this unique time in a woman's life.

With thanks to: Rebecca Hulem RN, RNP, CNM
The Menopause Expert

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