by Swedish Staff and Contributors

Symptoms of Menopause
Menopause Defined
What Causes Menopause
Risk Factors

Symptoms of Menopause

Symptoms of menopause may include:

  • Menstrual periods that are irregular
  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • Mood changes including irritability, anxiety or depression
  • Disturbed sleep patterns (may progress to insomnia)
  • Vaginal dryness and pain during sexual intercourse
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Dry skin
  • Frequent urination or leaking of urine

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Menopause Defined

Menopause is the permanent end of menstruation and fertility. It is a natural, gradual process that on average, occurs in a woman at age 51, but can occur any time between ages 40 and 60.

When a woman has not had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months, menopause is considered complete.

  • Perimeopause is the period of time leading up to complete menopause.
  • Premature menopause occurs before the age of 40.
  • Surgically induced menopause occurs when a woman’s ovaries are surgically removed.

Treatment for menopause is used to reduce symptoms.

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What Causes Menopause

A gradual decrease in the hormone, estrogen, causes menopause. Estrogen is released by a woman’s ovaries. When estrogen is decreased, the ovaries eventually stop releasing eggs.

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A physical exam is needed to diagnose menopause. Your doctor will ask you about your medical history and any symptoms you may be experiencing.

Natural menopause is diagnosed when a woman has not had a menstrual period for one year. Menopause may need to be confirmed if it was caused by a surgical procedure. A blood test may be done to look for high levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) which may indicate menopause.

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Menopause is a natural part of life and does not necessarily require treatment. However, treatment is available for symptoms and health risks associated with low estrogen such as:

  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Osteoporosis (loss of bone mass)

Osteoporosis in Hip

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Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) 

Types of hormone replacement therapies include:

  • Estrogens
  • Progesterone
  • Combinations of estrogen and progesterone
  • Low amounts of male hormones

HRT is available as tablets, gels, skin patches, vaginal tablets or rings, injections, and pellets inserted into your skin. Possible health risks associated with HRT  include:

  • Cancer – endometrial, breast and ovarian
  • Heart disease
  • Blood clots

Healthful Diet

Maintaining a healthy diet during menopause can enhance your sense of well-being and may reduce your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and certain cancers. The diet should be:

  • Low in fat 
  • Include plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Include calcium and vitamin D

Limit Caffeine and Alcohol

Drinking caffeine and alcohol may increase anxiety and insomnia symptoms as well as increase your loss of calcium. Alcohol should be consumed in moderation which is 1-2 drinks per day.

Quit Smoking

Smoking can increase your risk of early menopause, heart disease and osteoporosis.

Regular Exercise

To decrease your risk of osteoporosis, try weight-bearing exercises like walking and climbing stairs, and strength exercises.

Stress Management

To ease tension, anxiety and other menopausal symptoms, try stress management. Examples of relaxation techniques include:

  • Deep breathing
  • Getting a massage
  • Taking warm baths
  • Listening to quiet music

Over-the-Counter Products

Vaginal moisturizers and lubricants may be helpful to relieve symptoms of vaginal dryness.

Nonhormonal Medications for Hot Flashes

  • To reduce hot flash symptoms, medications may be prescribed. These include:
    • Certain blood pressure medications
    • Antiseizure medications
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

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Risk Factors

Menopause is a natural process associated with aging. There are no risk factors.

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Menopause is a natural biologic event that does not need to be prevented.

This content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Swedish.

Diagnosis and Treatment

For more information:

Women's Health - Menopause