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Menopause: what it is, symptoms and causes

Menopause: what it is, symptoms and causes

What is menopause?

Menopause is a physiological period in women's lives conditioned by hormonal changes. It consists of the permanent cessation of menstruation.
Symptoms may begin several years earlier. Some of the symptoms of menopause can last for months or remain for several years afterward.
The average age at which it occurs in developed countries is between 51 and 52 years.
Menopause is a natural biological process. However, physical symptoms, such as hot flashes and the emotional symptoms of menopause , can disrupt sleep, decrease energy, or affect emotional health. There are many effective treatments available: from lifestyle adjustments to hormone therapy

Causes of menopause

Menopause occurs due to the cessation of the function of the ovaries, when the eggs are depleted. This cessation of ovarian function will lead to a marked decrease in estrogen levels (hormones produced by the ovaries).

This decrease in estrogen levels in the blood is responsible for the appearance of the symptoms that accompany menopause .

During menopause , a woman's ovaries stop producing eggs and produce less estrogen and progesterone. Likewise, a decalcification of the bones occurs.
Decreased estrogen contributes to the development of an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Osteoporosis usually occurs rapidly in the first 5 years after menopause occurs. The main risk of osteoporosis is bone fracture.

Symptoms of menopause

The most characteristic symptoms are the appearance of hot flashes, typically referred to as a sensation of heat that arises in the chest and radiates to the neck and face and which may be accompanied by intense sweating. They normally last a few minutes, although they can be longer.

Other symptoms that may be associated in the short term are vaginal dryness, burning in the genitals, frequency and urgency in urination, and a greater frequency of urinary infections. Also characteristic is the loss of skin elasticity and changes in the texture, size and consistency of the breasts. Many women report episodes of anxiety, depression, irritability, memory loss and insomnia.

Also characteristic is a decrease in libido, that is, in sexual appetite, which can be aggravated by the discomfort produced during sexual intercourse, due to vaginal dryness.

Learn more about menopause

How is menopause diagnosed?

To diagnose menopause , the doctor takes into account the symptoms, the woman's age and a gynecological examination.
A blood test that determines the concentration of different female sex hormones, such as FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and estradiol, can also help diagnose menopause.
In the climacteric, hormone levels show a typical evolution: estradiol decreases and FSH increases.
As a general rule, certain lifestyle habits are recommended, such as quitting tobacco, adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D in the diet, regular exercise, and avoiding excessive weight loss.
It would be advisable for every woman who reaches menopause to see a specialist to evaluate the convenience of starting hormone replacement therapy.

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