What Causes Menopause?

Menopause is a natural process of the reproductive system that signifies the end to a woman’s fertility and menstrual cycles. It normally occurs in women between the ages of 45 and 50 years old, but it could affect women in their 30s. The signs and symptoms of starting menopause are hot flashes, weight gain, mood swings and irregular menstrual periods. Medications might be prescribed to help women who are having these symptoms. A reduction in the reproductive hormones, a hysterectomy and chemotherapy are each a factor that causes menopause.

A reduction in the reproductive hormones causes menopause because the woman’s body no longer produces the amount of estrogen and progesterone needed for a normal menstrual cycle. As a woman becomes older, her ovaries began to release fewer eggs to be fertilized, which causes less reproductive hormones to be created. This reduction also can cause a change in the monthly menstrual cycle, because a woman’s periods might become more irregular until they stop permanently.

A hysterectomy causes menopause in cases where the female uterus and ovaries are removed during surgery. After the ovaries are removed, the woman body’s no longer produces any type of estrogen or progesterone. Therefore, the woman might start menopause within days after the hysterectomy surgery has been completed. If a woman elects to keep her ovaries and has only her uterus removed, she should not experience any menopause symptoms until the natural process begins for her.

Chemotherapy, which is a medical treatment for cancer, causes menopause because of the treatment's side effects on women’s ovaries and menstrual cycles. While receiving chemotherapy, a woman might experience menopause symptoms and an irregular menstrual period. These symptoms might be sudden or delayed for months after the treatment has been started. In most cases, a woman should no longer experience menopause symptoms after the treatment has been completed. If a woman is close to menopause age, then the onset of menopause might stay permanently.

In most cases, menopause happens over a period of years within two stages, which are perimenopause and postmenopause. Most women experience their symptoms during the perimenopause stage because of the frequent changes in the levels of the female hormones. To test for menopause, a physician might run a blood test on the levels of estrogen in the patient’s system. Although menopause cannot be cured, a physician can prescribe medications such as estrogen pills and antidepressants to prevent or minimize some of the symptoms.


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