Menopause is the transition period during which the female body ceases its reproductive capabilities. The average age to reach menopause is 51, but the most common range is from 45 to 55 years of age. Hormone fluctuations cause a variety of symptoms. The process takes an average of four years, but time and experiences vary from woman to woman.
Before menopause, during so-called perimenopause, women begin having irregular menstrual cycles. The duration of their period may be longer than normal, much shorter or, occasionally, skipped altogether. Pregnancy is one common reason for this irregularity, but by the mid-40s, menopause is a more likely cause. The changes can also affect the period flow, which may be heavier or lighter. Menopause is the time that marks the end of the menstruation and is diagnosed when a woman does not have menses for 12 consecutive months. A reduction in estrogen and progesterone hormone production causes these fluctuations and the cessation of the menses.
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