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Menopause is Ovarian Failure

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Menopause is a condition which all women will encounter eventually. Just as surely as that first menstruation appeared in puberty, will just as surely menstrual flow disappear sometime between the ages of 45 and 55.

Unlike boys, baby girls are born with all the necessary egg sacs in their ovaries when they are born. The ovaries are the female reproductive glands which lie deep down in the pelvis on each side of the uterus, bathed in the intestines.

As a child grows, a certain number of immature eggs are discarded as a part of the natural biological process. When girls reach a certain height, a certain percentage of their final height, the brain begins puberty.

At this time there can be as many as almost half a million immature eggs in reserve in the ovaries. Puberty causes the ovaries to begin producing estrogen which in time causes an egg to be released every month.  This then is ovulation and makes pregnancy possible.

With each ovulation, up to 1,000 eggs are activated in which most recede. In the end, there is usually only one mature egg released in ovulation ready to be fertilized by a sperm cell.
The change of life, or menopause, is by definition the time in a woman’s life when there are no more eggs, in other words ovarian failure.

A consequence of this ovarian failure is a drop in hormone production in the ovaries, which produce both testosterone, progesterone and estrogen. A number of the physical conditions of menopause are due to just these hormonal changes.

Menopause as such is not an illness, but an aging caused by a natural biological process. It marks the definite end of the menstrual cycle and reproductive period in a woman’s life. Menopause is the last of the big hormonal mileposts in which a woman’s body noticeably changes physically and mentally to varying degrees.

It all starts in a young girl’s life with puberty and the influx of estrogen. Later, it continues with any pregnancies in which estrogen levels are increased a thousand times. And then all is concluded with menopause, where the body must adapt to a new hormonal balance with, among other things, lower estrogen levels. Menopause, however, is more than a condition with just a shortage of estrogen. 

Menopause can either happen spontaneously or due to medical intervention. That could include surgical removal of the ovaries because of an illness, or radiation treatment on the lower part of the abdomen or chemotherapy. The results could then be an abrupt transition rather than a spontaneous, normal menopause.

The average age of menopause in the western world is 51.4 years. For most women, this transitional phase begins years ahead of actual changes in menstrual flow, and later delayed periods and possible night sweats and hot flashes.

Menopause, on average, lasts about four years. There is no simple biological marker which can indicate where you are in the process or when you will lose your menstruation once and for all. It is possible to measure hormone levels in the blood and especially the pituitary follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) but the measurements can fluctuate from month to month during the beginning of the menopausal phase. Nor is there any clear measurement to specify a definite time of menopause. It can only be determined by yourself when you are able to look back and confirm that a year has gone by without any menstruation.



As many as 90% of women experience menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. Only 5% have menstruation after 55 years of age and 1% undergo early menopause before they are 40.
Menopausal age has not noticeably changed in our part of the world over the last century, even though average life expectancy has increased and both nutrition and health have improved. 

There are certain hereditary factors. If your mother had menstruation well into her fifties, most likely, but not definitely, you too will experience the same. In this case you are most certainly your mother’s daughter. Smoking is also claimed to advance menopause by a year or two. It depends on how long a person has smoked and how many cigarettes a day. The changes can be restored to a point if a person stops smoking. The reason for this is that, most likely, smoking in general advances aging.

It is also likely that menopause occurs a little earlier if, for various reasons, a woman’s uterus has been removed. This is due to a somewhat reduced blood flow to the ovaries.
Birth control pills and puberty are less responsible for menopausal age. Women who have given birth to more than one child or obesity can be the reasons for an older menopausal age.

Menopause is a unique experience which differs from woman to woman. For some, menopause is equated with new freedom and new opportunities due to the absence of the discomforts of menstruation and the fear of becoming pregnant. For others, menopause is synonymous with becoming old, grey and outdated.

Menopause is a golden opportunity to focus on health, diet and lifestyle. It can be a chance to review one’s life to understand earlier health and to consider the genes they carry. This could be important for taking the initiatives one has control over to live as well as possible for as long as possible. We women live a third of our lives without menstruation. The portion of the population who live beyond 50 years continues to grow and grow. There is no reason not to accept the challenge!


A Natural Biological Process

Hereditary factors

Saturday 26. January, 2008
Change of Life | Health


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