What Is Menopause?
Menopause is the general term used to describe the ‘change of life’ in women, when their sex hormones production decreases and often initiates a complex of symptoms called the ‘menopause syndrome’. Menopause refers to the one year without bleeding immediately following the last menstrual period. Menopause is preceded by a period known as the peri-menopause. Peri-menopause is the period of time, generally about three to five years before menopause, which has its own complex. The post-menopause is the time after the menopause when symptoms may or may not be present. The average age of menopause is 50 years, even though it can occur early in some women.
Normal Menstrual Cycle
The Hypothalamus (a special part of the brain) senses a lack of certain sex hormones in the blood stream and stimulates the pituitary gland, also located in the brain. It produces a hormone called follicle stimulating hormone. This hormone circulates to the ovaries and stimulates the follicles or potential eggs. One or more of the follicles are then selected to ovulate, and along with ovulation, produce estrogen, progesterone – female sex hormones and male hormones which go into the blood stream and stimulate the uterine lining (lining of the womb) to get ready to accept the egg. If no fertilized egg reaches the uterine lining, also called the endometrium, the hormone levels then decrease and the menstrual cycle starts all over again.
With menopause, the ovaries do not respond to the follicle stimulating hormone stimulation from the pituitary glad. The pituitary gland then produces more of the follicle stimulating hormone trying to force ovulation. This produces an increase in follicle stimulating hormone in the blood and this can be used as a diagnostic test for menopause.