Women's Reproductive Health: Menopause

RokStories Menopause is a normal change in a woman’s life when her period stops. A woman has reached menopause when she has not had a period for 12 months in a row.

During menopause a woman’s body slowly makes less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. This often happens between the ages of 45 and 55 years old. Some women may experience menopause at younger ages because of medical treatments such as surgery to remove the ovaries (sometimes done at the same time as a hysterectomy), family history (genes), or cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation to the pelvic area. According to U.S. Census data from 2000, there are about 37.5 million women reaching or currently at menopause (ages 40 to 59).

As women near menopause, they may have symptoms from the changes their body is making. Some women may not have any other symptoms at all. Symptoms that some women experience near menopause include hot flashes (getting warm in the face, neck, or chest), night sweats or sleeping problems that led to feeling tired, stressed or tense, vaginal changes (the vagina may become dry and thin and sex may be painful) and thinning of bones, which may lead to loss of height and bone breaks. If a woman would like to treat her symptoms, she should talk to her health care provider to discuss treatment options.