Menopause: What Is It & Why Does It Happen

Menopause: What Is It & Why Does It Happen

Menopause happens when a woman has not menstruated for twelve consecutive months and she can no longer become pregnant in a natural way. In most cases, as pointed out on Health Line, this period starts between the ages of 45 and 55, but it can also occur prior or after this range. Although for most women a medical treatment is not required for menopause, this period is often characterized by unpleasant symptoms, including gain of weight and hot flashes and premature menopause has been associated with specific health complications.

The Beginning of Menopause

When it comes to menopause, it is important to point out that a lot of women develop the symptoms approximately four years prior to their last period and they usually prolong four years after a woman has had her last period. According to Health Line, although the average age for menopause is 51, in Latina and African American women, it can happen around 2 years earlier. What’s more, when a woman enters menopause also depends on two important factors, i.e. the health of the ovaries and genetics.

Menopause Phases

The period during which the hormones begin changing in order to be prepared for menopause is known as perimenopause and it usually lasts between several months to several years and in most cases, women enter this phase after their mid 40s. It is important to note that not all women go through this phase, but may directly enter menopause. During this period, the regularity of the menstrual periods decreases and one experiences very late or absent periods whereas the flow may become lighter or heavier. When a woman has not had menstruation for a period of 12 months, she has entered menopause. The phase after menopause is referred to as postmenopause.

What Will You Experience during Menopause?

As explained on Health Line, every woman experiences menopause (and the other two phases) in her own unique way. However, there are several major signs that occur commonly among women in the menopausal period of their lives. Here are the main symptoms of perimenopause:

  • Infrequent menstruation
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Flushing
  • Lighter or heavier blood flow

These are some of the most common menopause symptoms:

  • Gain of weight
  • Depression
  • Anxiousness
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Sleeplessness
  • Poor concentration
  • Lower sex drive
  • Memory issues
  • Frequent urination
  • Headaches
  • Dry eyes and skin
  • Sore breasts
  • Lower muscle mass
  • Racing heart
  • Thinning of the hair
  • Excessive growth of hair in different parts of the body

During the postmenopause stage, as noted on My Cleveland Clinic, although the hot flashes may become less severe in some women, as a consequence of a decreased amount of estrogen, they become more prone to health issues like heart disease and osteoporosis. Healthy lifestyle changes as well as hormone therapy may be of aid to preserve the optimal health.

What Are the Main Causes of Menopause?

As explained on Mayo Clinic, menopause may happen because of the following several health-related issues:

  1. Primary ovarian insufficiency

Approximately one percent of women experience premature menopause, i.e. menopause prior to the age of 40 as a consequence of primary ovarian insufficiency or the ovaries’ inability to create normal levels of reproductive hormones, either as a result of genetics or some autoimmune illness. Sometimes, no cause is found. With the goal to preserve the health of the heart, brain, and bones, hormone therapy is usually prescribed.

  1. Hysterectomy

A surgery which eliminates the ovaries and uterus triggers immediate menopause and the menstrual periods will stop right away and one may also experience more severe menopause symptoms due to the abrupt changes (which is not necessarily the case with gradual menopause).

  1. Chemo and radiation

Cancer therapies can also lead to menopause and menopausal symptoms during or right after the treatment.

  1. Natural deterioration of the reproductive hormones

When a woman nears her 30s, the production of estrogen and progesterone decreases and the fertility lowers; in the 40s, the menstrual periods may become lighter or heavier and longer or shorter until around the age of 51 when the egg production entirely stops.

Potential Complications due to Menopause

During the after-menopause period, as seen on Mayo Clinic and as previously mentioned, a woman’s chance of specific health complications elevates; here are the most frequent ones:

  • Urinary incontinence

Due to the loss of flexibility of the vagina and urethra tissues, a woman may be prone to strong urges for urination, as well as incontinence, or loss of urine when laughing, lifting things, or coughing. Kegel exercises and topical vaginal estrogen can help alleviate the symptoms, as well as hormonal therapy.

  • Osteoporosis

Menopause can lead to the brittle and weaker bones and a higher chance of hip, wrist, and spine fractures. The quick bone density loss after menopause also puts a woman at a higher risk of osteoporosis.

  • Gain of weight

Due to the slower metabolism during the transition to menopause, one may experience weight gain.

  • Cardiovascular illness

The reduction of estrogen increases the risk of heart problems and this is why women need to protect their health by following a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and keeping a balanced weight, as well as by averting hypertension and high cholesterol.

  • Low libido and dry vagina

A lowered moisture and elasticity can lead to dryness, discomfort, and light bleeding during intercourse; the reduction in sensation may minimize one’s sexual drive too. In some cases, vaginal lubricants and vaginal estrogen treatment may be of help.

Natural Relief for Menopause

According to DIY Natural, there are several helpful natural options that can help you cope with this period easily. Let us take a look at some of them:

  • Yarrow

This plant is recommendable for the management of sweating and hot flashes. You can use it in tea or tincture form.

  • Clary sage

This plant can be of great aid during the menstruation years for hormone regulation, which can also be beneficial during menopause.

  • Black cohosh

This root can be found in the southern Appalachian Mountains, but throughout different parts of the world as well. The root is cleaned, dried, and ground and then used for the preparation of capsules or for tea and tinctures.

  • Saw palmetto

For a long period of time, this plant has been used as a powerful natural remedy for the prostate gland and nowadays, women also use it during menopause to alleviate the numerous symptoms.

  • Hawthorn

These berries can make the veins and arteries stronger and thus, enhance the blood flow significantly.


Women’s Health Services


Embry Women’s Health is committed to providing quality, affordable health care. We’re in-network with all major insurance plans, including Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna and UnitedHealthcare. No insurance? No problem. We offer a simple fee schedule for those who wish to pay out-of-pocket. Click the button below for our complete list and more information: