Menopause

Menopause literally means the "end of monthly cycles" (the end of monthly periods aka menstruation), from the Greek word pausis (cessation) and the root men- (month). Menopause is an event that typically (but not always) occurs in women in midlife, during their late 40s or early 50s, and it signals the end of the fertile phase of a woman's life. However rather than being defined by the state of the uterus and the absence of menstrual flow, menopause is more accurately defined as the permanent cessation of the primary functions of the ovaries: the ripening and release of ova and the release of hormones that cause both the creation of the uterine lining, and the subsequent shedding of the uterine lining (a.k.a. the menses or the period).

This transition from a potentially reproductive to a non-reproductive state is the result of a reduction in female hormonal production by the ovaries. This transition is normally not sudden or abrupt, tends to occur over a period of years, and is a natural consequence of aging. However, for some women, the accompanying signs and effects that can occur during the menopause transition years can significantly disrupt their daily activities and sense of well-being. In addition, women who have some sort of functional disorder affecting the reproductive system (e.g., endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, cancer of the reproductive organs) can go into menopause at a younger age than the normal timeframe. The functional disorders often significantly speed up the menopausal process and create more significant health problems, both physical and emotional, for the affected woman.

The word "menopause" was coined specifically for human females, where the end of fertility is traditionally indicated by the permanent stopping of monthly menstruations. However, menopause also exists in some other animals, many of which do not have monthly menstruation; in this case, the term means a natural end to fertility that occurs before the end of the natural lifespan.

The date of menopause in human females is formally medically defined as the time of the last menstrual period (or menstrual flow of any amount, however small), in those women who have not had a hysterectomy. Women who have their uterus removed but retain their ovaries do not immediately go into menopause, even though their periods cease. Adult women who have their ovaries removed however, go immediately into full surgical menopause, no matter how young they are.

Menopause is an unavoidable change that every woman will experience, assuming she reaches middle age and beyond. It is helpful if women are able to learn what to expect and what options are available to assist the transition, if that becomes necessary. Menopause has a wide starting range, but can usually be expected in the age range of 42–58. An early menopause can be related to cigarette smoking, higher body mass index, racial and ethnic factors, illnesses, chemotherapy, radiation and the surgical removal of the ovaries, with or without the removal of the uterus.

Menopause can be officially declared (in an adult woman who is not pregnant, is not lactating, and who has an intact uterus) when there has been amenorrhea (absence of any menstruation) for one complete year. However, there are many signs and effects that lead up to this point, many of which may extend well beyond the "official" declaration date of menopause. These include: irregular menses, vasomotor instability (hot flashes and night sweats), atrophy of genitourinary tissue, increased stress, breast tenderness, vaginal dryness, forgetfulness, mood changes, and in certain cases osteoporosis and/or heart disease. These effects are related to the hormonal changes a woman’s body is going through, and they affect each woman to a different extent. The only sign or effect that all women universally have in common is that by the end of the menopause transition every woman will have a complete cessation of menses.

Read more about Menopause:  Age, Background, Terminology, Indications and Signs, Cause, Management, Society and Culture, In Other Animals

Other articles related to "menopause":

Andropause
... Andropause or male menopause, sometimes colloquially called "man-opause", is a name that has been given, in some parts of the English-speaking world ... Unlike "menopause", the word "andropause" is not currently recognized by the World Health Organization and its ICD-10 medical classification ...
Hormone Replacement Therapy (menopause)
... Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in menopause is medical treatment in surgically menopausal, perimenopausal and postmenopausal women ... mitigate discomfort caused by diminished circulating estrogen and progesterone hormones in menopause ... The Women's Health Initiative recommended that women with non-surgical menopause take the lowest feasible dose of HRT for the shortest possible time to minimize associated risks ...
Climacteric (human)
... In current practice, climacteric is most often a synonym for female menopause ... a period in a man's life corresponding to menopause) (n) menopause, climacteric, change of life (the time in a woman's life in which the menstrual cycle ends) The term is used for both genders by ...
Menopause - In Other Animals
... Menopause in the animal kingdom appears perhaps to be somewhat uncommon, but the presence of this phenomenon in different species has not been ... Menopause has been observed in several species of nonhuman primates, including rhesus monkeys, and chimpanzees ... Menopause also has been reported in elephants, short-finned pilot whales and other cetaceans, as well as in a variety of other vertebrate species including the guppy, the platyfish ...
Menopause (journal)
... Menopause is an academic journal in the field of gynecology, which deals with topics related to menopause ...

Famous quotes containing the word menopause:

    One hand stiff—heaviness of forties & menopause reduced
    by one heart stroke, lame now—wrinkles—a scar on
    her head, the lobotomy—ruin, the hand dipping downwards to
    death—
    Allen Ginsberg (b. 1926)