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What is Menopause?

With more than 5,000 women per day entering menopause in the United States and Canada, what was once whispered about in the ladies' rooms is now headline material in the news rooms:  hot flashes have become news flashes!  Clearly,  the phrase "Finished At Fifty" is an outdated relic.  This is not your mothers' menopause. . .But what is menopause?  It's is the end of menstruation, which is often a cause for celebration!  But what causes periods to stop is the same thing that causes menopausal symptoms to begin:  our ovaries stop producing estrogen, causing hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and decreased libido.  More importantly, it increases a woman's risk for several diseases including heart disease, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer's disease.

The average age of menopause in America is 51, but women can start having symptoms in their 30's or 40's.  If you have these symptoms, don't dismiss them as just stress or fatigue; see your doctor.

Finally, you don't go into menopause overnight, so don't prepare for it overnight. Your friends and family are good sources of information and support, but your doctor is the best source of medical information about menopause for you.  Ask questions now to help you form a good treatment plan later.  There has been a tremendous amount of research reported-and misreported-in the past few years about menopause and its treatment.  The bottom line is that there is not one "right" answer for all women.


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Created: 9/26/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.
Reviewed: 6/30/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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