Menopause is a natural physiological process, an inevitable step in the life of an aging woman. It consists of the halt of ovulation due to the exhaustion of all primordial follicles located in the ovaries. This results in a cessation of menstrual cycles and a stopping of the secretion of estrogen. Menopause is often preceded by perimenopause
, during which ovarian activities have slowed down and female hormones decreased. Menopause occurs in women between the ages of 45 and 55 on average and in some cases, beyond these limits.
Regarding perimenopause, a syndrome heralding the beginning of hormonal disturbances, signs generally consist of the onset of irregular cycles of variable duration, sometimes with excessive periods or bleeding between periods. The symptoms of menopause consist of:
- the complete cessation of menstruation;
- hot flashes affecting three-quarters of women, with facial flushing and sweating;
- a decreased libido;
- vaginal dryness;
- mood disorders;
- weight gain;
- sleep disorders;
- occasionally, depression;
- hair loss;
- not as visible, menopause causes a significant decrease in bone mineralization, with a more rapid progression to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fracture.
The diagnosis of menopause is based on the observation of symptoms. No further review is necessary, except in case of doubt or in the case of early menopause (occurring before the age of 45).
Menopause is an irreversible process and it is not a disease. However, in some cases where the symptoms are very bothersome with a significant impact on daily life, the latter can be treated with hormonal therapy that compensates deficiency: this is called hormone replacement therapy. It is prescribed for a limited duration, and not all women can benefit from it. Also, molecules exist to reduce the intensity and frequency of hot flashes or vaginal dryness, the latter being often irritating during sex.