Menopause describes the end of menstruation and the reproductive cycle in women. It is a process that generally occurs between ages 45 and 55, typically at the age of 50. It can also occur because of the surgical removal of the ovaries, notes the American College of Gynecologists. Although the process of undergoing menopause is variable, there are several indicators.
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Although menstruation is ending, it rarely comes to an abrupt halt, notes the National Institutes of Health (NIH). More likely, the length and duration of the cycle become more irregular or variable. The menstrual cycle might shorten from four to three weeks before the intervals between cycles expand and eventually predominate, notes NIH.
Changing estrogen levels can alter the blood vessels' mechanism, leading to hot flashes, notes Aetna InteliHealth. Your body might feel uncomfortably warm, the face and neck may visibly redden and sweat can increase. According to the American College of Gynecologists (ACOG), up to 75 percent of all menopausal women experience this symptom. The sensation can last for seconds to several minutes and can occur at any time of day or night. Hot flashes can interfere with deep sleep and also lead to night sweats.
As estrogen levels decline, the vagina's lining becomes more thin and dry, leading to discomfort during sexual intercourse and an increased risk of infection, notes the ACOG. You also might experience increased itchy and irritated skin, adding to discomfort. To lessen discomfort during intercourse, you can use lubricants or confer with your physician to obtain estrogen creams or suppositories.
Experiencing major changes in reproductive capacity, combined with physical discomfort and sleep deprivation, can lead to mood changes in menopausal women, notes Aetna InteliHealth. The emotional changes might include irritability, depression and anxiety, cautions the National Institutes of Health. Beyond increased volatility, women might experience forgetfulness or an inability to concentrate.