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All about menopause menopause periods signs and symptoms of menopause causes of menopause premature menopause perimenopause postmenopause menopause relief and treatment hormone replacement therapy (HRT) benefits of hormone replacement therapy risk factors for hormone replacement therapy hormones for hormone replacement therapy ways of taking HRT natural hormone replacement therapy (NHRT) herbal remedies for menopause relief estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) menopause diet

What is postmenopause?

After menopause and continuing throughout the remainder of a woman's life, estrogen production shifts from her ovaries to her fat cells. Although the ovaries never disappear, they do decrease in size. Hormones such as testosterone, important for bone strength and libido, continue to be produced in the ovaries. Postmenopause is the time when most of the transitional stress of menopause has passed. Hot flashes may become milder or occur less frequently. Moods and

energy levels may seem to have stabilized. By the time a woman reaches postmenopause, hopefully she has practiced good health habits so she can approach this time of life emotionally and physically well prepared. This is an opportune time for women to concentrate on themselves, because they can expect to live a full third of their life after menopause.

Since postmenopausal women produce less estrogen, there are some symptoms that they might experience. About 10 percent to 15 percent of postmenopausal women will experience vaginal dryness, which can lead to painful intercourse. Women who have had a hysterectomy and undergone surgical menopause may experience incontinence and decreased libido. And some women will find that the hot flashes and night sweats that started during perimenopause persist for a few years. Most women, however, feel much better once the hormonal "storms" of perimenopause abate and talk of increased energy and new vitality. The anthropologist Margaret Mead described this feeling as postmenopausal zest.

It is generally believed by most clinicians that the postmenopausal phase begins when 12 full months have passed since the last menstrual period. Another typical guideline is to measure the level of the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). A rising FSH level indicates to the clinician that the pituitary is working overtime in a futile effort to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs which no longer exist. Most researchers use a 35-50 FSH level as the gauge whether a woman has reached postmenopause. This high FSH level continues for the rest of a woman’s life unless HRT is started, but this continuing high level is not harmful.

Another major change that occurs after menopause is that estrogen production shifts from the ovaries to the fat cells in a woman's body. The chief estrogen of postmenopause is estrone (E1) which is converted from androgens (i.e., androstenedione) produced mainly by the adrenal glands. Some estrogen continues to be produced by the adrenals but in a lesser amount. The ovaries have now begun to shrink in size, although they never disappear and, in fact, they still have quite an important role in postmenopause since some hormones (ie. testosterone) continue to be produced there.

Osteoporosis - As we age we gradually lose bone, leading to an increase in hip fractures in our 80s, and in some women, an increase in fractures of the spine at an earlier age. It is important for women in early menopause to adopt lifestyle changes that will maintain bone. Some positive choices that should be incorporated into your lifestyle may include: quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, exercising several times per week including weight training, taking at least 1,500 mg of calcium per day, vitamin D.

Women who have demonstrated osteoporosis might also consider treatment options that block bone loss and have been demonstrated to reduce fractures such as bisphosphonates (Fosomax®) and selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMS) such as raloxifene or Evista®. Hormones such as calcitonin and soon-to-be released pararthormone, are important for women with fractures. Although estrogen replacement has been shown to decrease the loss of bone density, it has never been proven to reduce fractures and should not be used solely for this indication.

More information on menopause

What is menopause? - Menopause is a stage of the human female reproductive cycle that occurs as the ovaries stop producing estrogen, causing the reproductive system to gradually shut down.
When does menopause occur? - Most premenopausal women experience changes in their menstrual cycle. Perimenopause is the phase before menopause actually takes place, when ovarian hormone production is declining and fluctuating, causing a host of symptoms.
What are the signs and symptoms of menopause? - The symptoms of menopause can be divided into early and late onset symptoms. Early symptoms include abnormal vaginal bleeding, hot flashes, and mood changes. Late symptoms include vaginal dryness and irritation, osteoporosis, and heart disease.
What causes menopause? - Menopause occurs when the ovaries are totally depleted of eggs and no amount of stimulation from the regulating hormones can force them to work.
What is premature menopause? - Premature menopause is menopause that happens before the age of 40 - whether it is natural or induced.
What is perimenopause? - Perimenopause is the stage of a woman's life before menopause. The perimenopause is a normal period of transition between the childbearing years and menopause.
What is postmenopause? - Postmenopause is the time when most of the transitional stress of menopause has passed. Since postmenopausal women produce less estrogen, there are some symptoms that they might experience.
What are the treatment options for menopause? - Treatments for menopause can be divided based on those symptoms that are present in a given woman at a specific time. The standard of treatment for menopausal symptoms is replacement of one or both of the major female hormones.
What is hormone replacement therapy (HRT)? - Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment for women who have reached or passed menopause, which often is referred to as "the change of life."
What are the benefits of hormone replacement therapy? - The benefits of hormone replacement therapy include controlling menopause symptoms, preventing heart disease, preventing osteoporosis, preventing some hard-to-detect female cancers.
What are the risk factors for hormone replacement therapy? - Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) risks and possible side effects include increased risk of cancers, blood clots, gallbladder disease, and heart attack or stroke.
What hormones are used in hormone replacement therapy? - The menopause is associated with a relative lack of oestrogens and progestogens. Replacement therapy always requires oestrogens, which are given continuously.
How is hormone replacement therapy taken? - There are many ways of taking HRT, including a daily tablet, skin patches, a small pellet or implant under the skin, a gel applied daily to the skin, or a nasal spray.
What is natural hormone replacement therapy? - Natural hormone replacement therapy (NHRT) is a combination of human estrogens and natural human progesterone.
What are herbal remedies for menopause? - Some women take herbal, natural, or plant-based products to help their symptoms. Wort and chasteberry may help some women with depressed mood.
What is estrogen replacement therapy (ERT)? - Estrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT) is therapy to replace estrogen no longer made by a woman's body because she is post-menopausal or her ovaries have been damaged or removed.
What menopause diet is suggested? - Eating right can definitely ease the various discomforts of menopause including hot flashes, bloating and mood swings.
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005