Menopause is not an illness, but the natural end of female fertility. As women age, the production of the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone in the ovaries slows down, and the ovaries stop producing eggs.
Menopause begins when a woman stops having her menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. It is a process that naturally happens between the ages of 45 – 55 years, although it can occur as early as in the 30s, and as late as in the 60s.
Women will undergo 3 stages of the menopause process:
Eight to 10 years prior to menopause, women in their 40s begin to experience perimenopause when their ovaries begin to produce less oestrogen. The decrease in oestrogen speeds up during the last 2 years of perimenopause. At this point, many women will start to experience menopause symptoms. However, they continue to have menstrual cycles and can still get pregnant.
When a woman no longer has menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months, she enters the menopause stage. At this stage, women experience signs of menopause such as:
During this stage, menopausal symptoms begin to ease for most women. However, some may continue to experience symptoms of menopause for more than a decade. Due to a lower level of oestrogen, women at this stage are prone to health conditions such as heart disease and osteoporosis.
Every woman experiences menopause differently. You may find life more overwhelming than normal, and may not understand why. Your mood might change often, from sadness and a feeling of low self-esteem to irritability and frustration.
Other symptoms of menopause are:
Menopause is a natural process in women that occurs between the ages of 45 – 55 years. However, it can occur as early as in the 30s and as late as in the 60s.
Menopause may lead to a higher risk for heart disease, bone loss and fractures. It is important to understand these risks so that the necessary steps can be taken to reduce them. In most women, the hormone levels will eventually stabilise and the symptoms will decrease.
Talk to your doctor to discuss menopause treatment options and lifestyle recommendations to help manage menopause and its symptoms.