During the menopause, the hormone balances of the body change. The ovaries produce less and fewer sex hormones. It takes an average of five to ten years for the organism to adapt to the new hormone levels. During this time, the symptoms typical up to menopause such as hot flushes, a dry vagina or sleep disturbances can develop.

They are part of every woman's life: the menopause is the physical counterpart of puberty: in young girls, the body prepares to produce fertile eggs. This ends with the last menstruation (menopause) - the woman becomes infertile. Both phases of life are accompanied by hormonal changes. During the menopause, the ovaries slowly stop producing sex hormones (oestrogens and gestagens). Other organs, however, continue to produce some.

Hormone levels change gradually.

All hormones in the body are subject to complicated control. Each gland produces its own hormones until their normal level in the blood is reached. Then feedback sets in - the brain releases control hormones which, for example, stimulate or inhibit the ovaries in their hormone production. The following happens during menopause: When the ovaries stop producing hormones, the brain tries to compensate for this irregularity. If this fails, the body has to find a new balance. This happens in a slow, changeable process that usually takes between five and ten years.

It takes six months or several years for the changeover.

The duration of menopausal symptoms varies from woman to woman: they can last for only six months, but can also last five to ten years. Irrespective of this, the hormonal change has long-term health risks. One of the best known is the. Moreover, the lack of estrogen means that the protection of the blood vessels against arteriosclerosis and associated diseases (e.g. heart attack, stroke) is lost. After the menopause, women are just as at risk of a heart attack as men, especially if they have a hereditary predisposition, smoke or eat fatty foods. And last but not least, the altered hormone situation affects the mucous membranes, skin, hair and figure. No woman today is helplessly exposed to all these problems: A positive basic attitude, modern medicine and a conscious lifestyle ensure that the body remains healthy, attractive and efficient.

Women enter the climacteric later today than a hundred years ago.

Women in the menopause are usually between 45 and 50 years old; some women feel the first changes or better changes in their body as early as 40. This first phase is called premenopause. Most women in industrialized countries have their last menstruation (menopause) between the ages of 50 and 52. In individual cases, however, the menopause can also occur later or earlier. If it occurs before the age of 40, doctors speak of premature menopause. And the period of twelve months after the last menstruation until the end of life is called postmenopausal.

What happens during menopause?

Menopause is the time when a woman's ovaries begin to produce fewer estrogens and ultimately stop producing completely. As a result, fertilized egg cells are no longer produced. This results in a less frequent occurrence of the menstrual period until it completely fails. The last menstrual period that occurs is called menopause. If twelve months pass without further bleeding after this last menstruation, the process is considered complete and the beginning period is referred to as postmenopausal. From this point on, women can no longer get pregnant.

The lack of estrogen can have a major impact on a woman's well-being or can lead to no or only a few complaints. Some women feel more comfortable with hormonal treatment. For women who have had their womb removed but not their ovaries (hysterectomy), it can be difficult to tell when menopause is over. Most of the time, however, can be based on the remaining symptoms.

When does menopause occur?

A woman experiences her last menstrual period on average at the age of 51. However, the symptoms of menopause usually begin up to five years earlier. Bleeding may also become weaker, more irregular and less frequent in the period before menstruation is finally absent. A woman can expect menopause to occur from the age of 45. If the menstrual period does not occur before the age of 45, a doctor should be consulted to measure the hormone levels and, if necessary, to find out the causes of this early menopause.

Menopause treatment

Menopause is not an illness, and treatment is not absolutely necessary.

However, around a third of all women suffer from menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and sweating. In such cases, menopause treatment is an option. It partially replaces hormones that the body itself no longer produces and can thus relieve symptoms.

Whether hormones make sense in individual cases, and if so in what form, should be discussed individually with the doctor. Hormone therapy can have side effects, and they should also be discussed. The risk of blood clots and breast cancer may increase. The pros and cons must, therefore, be carefully weighed up. Doctors individually tailor the hormone treatment to the patient's needs. They operate according to the principle: as few hormones as possible, as much as necessary. This means that the hormones are used in the lowest effective dosage and for the shortest possible duration.

A basic distinction is made between monotherapy, in which only estrogens are used, and combination therapy, in which a combination of estrogen and progestogen is used. Because estrogens alone would overstimulate the growth of the uterine lining and increase the risk of uterine cancer, combination therapy is usually prescribed. However, when a woman's uterus is removed, there is usually no longer a reason for progestogens.

Author's Bio: 

Marina Pal is a renowned author and social media enthusiast.