Menopause is distinguished by the period of time in which a woman's ovaries stop producing eggs, and her menstrual flow has stopped for at least 12 months. This biological process typically occurs around age 50 and marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. This time is also characterized by many physical and emotional changes. However, many measures can be taken to relieve symptoms of menopause including lifestyle changes and, for more serious issues, hormone treatment.
Although menopause is a natural process, other situations can trigger the event. A hysterectomy -- the removal of the uterus and ovaries -- immediately brings on menopause. If a hysterectomy involves the removal of the uterus and not the ovaries, menstruation will usually continue. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy can also cause menopause-like conditions including hot flashes. These conditions may be temporary and fertility may return. Primary ovarian deficiency can also cause the early onset of menopause in women under 40 but is extremely rare, occurring in only one percent of women.
After a woman goes through menopause, she may be predisposed to certain health conditions. Many women experience urinary incontinence, osteoporosis, and weight gain due to a slower metabolism. Vaginal dryness can result in sexual discomfort. Women may also experience decreased sensation in the vaginal area. Many of these symptoms can be alleviated.
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