What is Menopause?

Menopause is a natural part of the aging process for women. It is defined by the end of a woman’s monthly menstruation cycle, with the start of menopause being marked by at least 12 months passing without a period.

This is due to the ovaries ending ovulation and switching to a different balance of hormones. The end of ovulation can come at any point between the late 30s and early 60s, but the average age for menopause is around 51.

What are the Symptoms of Menopause?

Whether it is triggered by an early hysterectomy or comes naturally with age, menopause may create many symptoms.

Symptoms include

  • Unusual bleeding and spotting between periods
  • A lack of regular bleeding during your usual menstruation cycle
  • Changes in the amount of vaginal lubrication
  • Reduction in bladder control, leading to minor incontinence
  • Insomnia and waking throughout the night
  • Sudden intense hot flashes, often at night
  • Changes in body shape and composition
  • Mood swings and personality changes
  • Increased or decreased interest in sex

The change in hormones can create some complications. Without enough calcium, osteoporosis may erode the strength of your bones. Heart disease is also more likely to set in for menopausal women.

Together with physical changes, menopause can also indirectly have psychological effects on mood and personality which naturally occur during the aging process and only need to be addressed if become severe and steer toward depression.

How is Menopause Treated?

Most women can handle menopause with a healthy diet, regular exercise, some well-tested herbal supplements, and lifestyle changes to adjust to the symptoms.

While hormonal supplementation was once widely recommended, recent studies revealed heart disease risks that make it too dangerous unless there’s a serious need for extra estrogen.

Secondary treatments like vaginal gels and plant-based estrogen supplements can help you handle the symptoms with fewer risks and side effects.

Last Reviewed:
October 07, 2016
Last Updated:
August 31, 2017