After about 5 years of perimenopause the last period occurs. One year later women are defined as being in Menopause, usually at the age of 51 or 52.
One hundred years ago that just happened to be the same as life expectancy so the time spent in menopause was brief NOT ANYMORE. Life expectancy is now up to 80 years for women in the United States; a third of their lives, about 30 years in menopause. In 2010 there were 80 million women who were in menopause. There is an enormous need to optimize those 30 years of life that women did not have 100 years ago.
The simply unifying cause in menopause is a Decline in Estrogen, an ovarian hormone. This decline manifests itself in many different was throughout the body, some obvious and serious, and some vague are poorly understood. Receptors to estrogen rise in many parts of t the woman’s body including not only the breast and urogenital tract, but also in the skin, liver, bone, brain, heart and gastrointestinal tract. Probably the most commonly recognized effect of estrogen loss is the “Hot Flash”, among the conditions attributable to menopause, it is not life threatening or the cause of serious illness. But it has large consequences. In women aged 40 to 64 years, 63% report symptoms that are very bothersome. These symptoms last, on average, 10 years. A large percentage reports a negative impact on their daily lives.
Other problems associated with menopause take their toll, as well. Heart disease, bone disease and urogenital conditions are a big problem. Those issues will be addressed, along with therapeutic approaches, in follow up posts in the discussing menopause.