What is menopause?

All women go through this cycle, it’s as natural a process as getting their first period.

Menopause is when a woman’s menstrual periods end permanently. It happens because, as a woman ages, her ovaries produce fewer female hormones (estrogen and progesterone). These are the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. The timing of the actual menopause is different for every woman, there is no set age for this cycle to begin. It is normal for menopause to occur anytime between the ages of 40 and 59. Menopause is a gradual process that can take several years, it is not a simple phase, but a whole transformation in a woman’s body.

All women go through this cycle, it’s as natural a process as getting their first period.


A woman may go through a variety of symptoms when she is in the process of menopause. The symptoms of menopause always vary. Some women simply stop having periods, while others do experience more physical manifestations. The most common are as follows :


Changes in the menstrual cycle. This is one of the first signs of menopause. Periods may be skipped or may occur more often in a row. The flow may be lighter or heavier than normal.


Weight gain: Changes in metabolism are associated with menopause, which cause an increase in body fat that is accelerated if the woman leads a sedentary life. The manifestation of these changes varies from woman to woman: in some women, weight gain occurs, while in others, fat is distributed to other parts of the body. These changes can increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems. It is recommended that women try to eat a balanced diet and exercise at least 3 times a week.


Hot flashes. They are one of the main symptoms and can last up to five years. They are detected because the woman begins to feel hot and anxious accompanied by sweating and palpitations. These hot flushes are suffered by 20% of women and their treatment is simple. It is caused by emotional stress, sudden changes in temperature, alcohol consumption and excessive appetite.


Osteoporosis. It is the decalcification of the bones that produces the reduction of bone mass that is intensified by the loss of the protective action that female hormones (estrogens) exert on them. To prevent possible bone fractures, specialists recommend bone densitometry of the hip and lumbar spine in women who have early menopause (before the age of 40).


Vaginal dryness. During and after menopause, the skin of the vagina and vulva (the area around the vagina) becomes thinner. Your vagina also loses its ability to produce as much lubrication (moisture) during sexual arousal. These changes can cause pain during sex.


Urinary tract problems. Bladder and urinary tract infections are more likely to occur during and after menopause. Talk to a doctor if you have to go to the bathroom frequently or if you feel an urgent need to urinate.


Headaches, night sweats, trouble sleeping, and tiredness. As you go through menopause, you may have trouble falling asleep and sleeping. Night sweats can even wake a woman up. They may not get enough rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (the stage of sleep during which you dream). Lack of REM sleep can make a woman feel tired, moody, and very stressed.


Many women experience emotional symptoms during menopause. These symptoms may include sadness, anxiety, and mood swings. In some women, the symptoms may become severe, so it is recommended that a doctor be seen to treat these symptoms.


There are three stages of menopause :


1.-Premenopause: Reproductive period prior to menopause.


2.-Perimenopause: Stage in which the biological, clinical and endocrinological effects that approach menopause begin to occur. Perimenopause extends into the first year after menopause has begun.


3.-Postmenopause: It is the period that begins from the last menstruation onwards.


As with other conditions, there are several factors that influence the menopausal process. A woman’s lifestyle has an impact on menopause. Those who lead a healthier lifestyle delay the onset of this stage. However, there are other factors that can influence and cause early menopause: Here are some of them:


Sedentary lifestyle: The absence of physical activity is one of the main causes that can bring menopause forward. If women lead an active life and do sport several times a week, as well as delaying the onset, they can gain other benefits such as prevention against osteoporosis, diabetes or reducing cardiovascular risk factors.


Tobacco: Tobacco is linked to estrogen depletion. If women have been smokers for a long time, they may go through menopause up to three years earlier than nonsmokers. In addition, smoking worsens other pathologies such as osteoporosis and increases the risk of bone fractures.


How can you tell if a woman is in menopause?


If you suspect that someone is going through menopause, it is best to see a doctor so that he or she can diagnose whether or not it is menopause. For this, a blood test is used to check hormone levels . Your health care provider should check for estrogen and follicle stimulating hormone ( FSH ).


What treatments are available?


There is no established treatment for menopause. However, there are ways to manage some of the symptoms that go along with menopause:


Hormone replacement therapy

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment for menopausal symptoms. It involves taking synthetic hormones (which are made in a laboratory instead of in the body). HRT can involve taking estrogen alone or estrogen combined with another hormone, progestin. Some women have found that HRT can relieve menopausal symptoms. These symptoms include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and some urinary problems. However, HRT is not for everyone. Recent studies suggest that, for most women, the risks of using HRT may outweigh the benefits. Talk to a doctor about the possible risks of HRT.



Phytoestrogens are plant substances found in some grains, vegetables, beans and other legumes, and herbs. They can function in the body as a weak form of estrogen. Researchers are studying whether phytoestrogens can be used to relieve some symptoms of menopause. They are also studying the side effects caused by these substances. Many soy products are good sources of phytoestrogens. These include tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and soy nuts. Some studies suggest that soy supplements may reduce hot flashes in women after menopause.


As always, we recommend that you always go to a doctor you trust so that he/she can define the best treatment for menopause.