About Menopause

Menopause is the point in a woman's life when the ovaries reduce production of estrogen and progesterone to the extent where menstruation stops. It's confirmed when 12 months have passed since a woman's last menstrual period. Menopause can also occur when the ovaries are surgically removed.

Natural Menopause

For most women the natural process of menopause usually begins in their early 50s, when periods may become less regular. Declining levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone cause changes in your periods. These hormones help keep the vagina and uterus healthy and create menstrual cycles.

Surgical Menopause/Hysterectomy

Some women enter menopause as a result of surgery. Removal of your uterus (hysterectomy) and ovaries (oophorectomy) will initiate menopause at any age. Depending on your age, removal of the uterus alone, although stopping menstruation, does not cause menopause. This is because the ovaries, not the uterus, produce hormones. However, women who have only the uterus removed may experience menopause sooner, depending on ovarian function before the hysterectomy.

Symptoms Associated with Menopause.

Because of the decline in estrogen levels, you may start to experience symptoms. The good news is that you can treat certain moderate to severe symptoms associated with menopause and continue to live your active life. The following symptoms, when moderate to severe, are treatable by hormone therapy:

  • Hot flashes—the most common symptoms associated with menopause
  • Night sweats—hot flashes that occur at night accompanied by heavy perspiration are called night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness (itching, burning, and irritation) and atrophy (narrowing and shortening of the vagina)

If you use hormone therapy only to treat dryness, itching, and burning in and around your vagina, talk with your healthcare professional about whether a different treatment or medicine without estrogens might be better for you.

Menopause Resources

Management and Support

No matter where you are in your journey—whether you're interested in learning more about menopause or looking for a hormone therapy that's right for you—you have a community of support that's here to "stick" by you every step of the way.

Visit the following Web sites to find supportive programs, resources, and the tools you need throughout your journey.

The North American Menopause Society

North America's leading nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the health and quality of life of women through an understanding of menopause

Information from the National Institutes of Health

"Hormones and Menopause"

from the National Institute on Aging

"Menopause and Menopause Treatments"

from Office of Women’s Health

"Facts About Menopausal Hormone Therapy"

from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Also available in PDF format