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WHAT IS MENOPAUSE

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Menopause happens at a time in life when most women report feeling more confident, empowered, involved, and energized than in their younger years. The end of fertility brings a sense of freedom for some women. This means no more birth control and dealing with periods.

For some women, however, untreated menopause symptoms merely adds high anxiety to other mid life psychological crises, which can then contribute to serious health problems. So menopause is a signal to continue, or start, a good health program, and get relief from your symptoms.

When will you go through menopause? It is related to family history, since the time of menopause is determined genetically. Can you recall the dates of a mother's or grandmother's menopause? This may give you some idea.

Even though you may have heard differently, there is no correlation between the time of a woman's first period and her age at menopause. Other factors that have no influence on age at menopause include race, height, the number of children a woman has had, and whether she took oral contraceptives.

Smoking definitely influences the age of menopause. Even former smokers, can experience menopause up to three years earlier than nonsmokers which provides another reason not to smoke.

The small percentage of women who have had a hysterectomy seem to experience menopause several years earlier than other women.

Surprisingly the time of the initial menstrual period ("menarche") is typically experienced at an earlier age than years ago. This is probably due to improvements in health, education, nutrition, and living conditions.

For the women who have had hystectomies and have not had their ovaries removed it is a special case. They are not having menstrual periods and it is difficult for them to tell when they have gone through menopause. With the ovaries still intact, estrogen will continue to be produced.

The signs that may appear are nearly the same ones as those women with a uterus, such as hot flashes and night sweats.

Again these changes may continue to be experienced or even worsen when the ovaries shut down their production of estrogen at menopause.

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