Menopause usually occurs between 45 and 50 years of age. It can occur suddenly or, more commonly, it can occur gradually over a long period of time.
It is possible for women who have had a hysterectomy( removal of the uterus ), with the ovaries left in place, to have early menopause because the ovaries can stop functioning. This doesn't usually occur but it is possible.
Menopause occurs when the ovaries stop producing hormones and eggs. Menstrual periods become more spaced out until they eventually stop altogether. This can occur over a period of a few years.
Symptoms of menopause can include hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, decreased libido( sexual interest), vaginal dryness, and irregular periods. Some women may experience difficulty concentrating or sleeping.
Most women transition into menopause with minimal problems. If symptoms are present and extreme, medication can be prescribed by your physician. Estrogen replacement therapy can be instituted. It is important to remember that if you still have your uterus, you will need a combination of estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen helps protect against osteoporosis but does carry risks for heart disease and stroke, so it is important to discuss treatment options with your doctor in detail. Ask questions and be sure that you feel comfortable with the treatment plan your doctor has suggested.