What is Menopause & Post-Menopause?
- Menopause is defined as the cessation of menses for a period of 12 consecutive months due to ovarian failure.
- Post-Menopause is the period of life which commences 6 months after the last menses or menstrual cycle.
Why Does Menopause Occur?
- Females are born with their lifetime supply of ova (eggs).
- Each month, with each ovarian cycle one ovum develops fully and is released from the ovaries to await fertilization by a spermatozoon (sperm).
- If fertilization occurs successfully the female becomes pregnant, however, if it does not occur the ovum along with the lining of the uterus (womb) is shed, that is, the menstrual cycle occurs.
- Over time the ova decline, both in quantity and quality.
- The ova that remain once the woman has passed her peak reproductive years are less responsive to the hormones that cause them to develop and mature.
- Due to the decline in the quality and quantity of the ova, their decreased responsiveness to hormones, as well as, the significantly lower levels of the ovarian hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, menstruation eventually ceases.
- Once the menses have been absent for a continuous period of 12 months, this signals the commencement of menopause.
When does Menopause occur?
- The average age of onset of menopause is 50 to 52 years.
- Of note however, menopause may occur earlier or later depending on your family history, that is, depending on when your mother or sister entered into menopause.
- If menopause occurs in a woman before she reaches 40 years of age, this is termed early onset menopause.
What are the Symptoms & Signs of Menopause?
- Menopause affects several organ systems in the body and so can cause several symptoms.
- Not every female who has entered into menopause will experience all of the symptoms.
- Similarly, the symptoms differ from female to female, such that the experience may be different for each person.
- The symptoms of menopause can begin as early as 6 years before to the last menses and can continue of several years after the last menses.
- Generally, as the post-menopausal period progresses, the symptoms of menopause improve.
- Some of the symptoms & signs of menopause include but are not limited to the following:
Diagnosis of Menopause
- The diagnosis is usually made based on the absence of the menses for the specified time period and other symptoms e.g hot flashes.
- In some cases, however, your doctor may choose to do hormone testing, to determine if you have officially entered into menopause.
- This may occur in females who have been on the injectable contraceptive Depo-Provera (Depo) or other long acting contraception, which is known to cause absent menstrual periods as a side effect.
- Testing may also be performed for other females in whom the diagnosis is uncertain for some other reason.
Does Everyone Require Treatment for Menopause?
- Menopause is a natural occurrence, as such, it does not automatically require treatment.
- Treatment is offered to women who have significant symptoms that are bothersome or disruptive to their lives.
- Treatment aims include but are not limited to the following:
- Relief vasomotor symptoms
- Avoidance of irregular menstrual cycles
- Preservation of bone density
- Improvement in the overall quality of life.
Treatment Options for Menopause
Treatment can be non-pharmacologic & pharmacologic:
Pharmacologic Treatment Options
For more information on Menopause, Post-Menopause and the most suitable treatment options for you, feel free to contact Quality Care Medical Centre or your regular healthcare provider.
By: Dr. Shontelle Millar