What exactly is Menopause?

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WHAT ARE PERIMENOPAUSE, MENOPAUSE & POST MENOPAUSE? 

You’re an individual and your menopause will be as individual as you.

Perimenopause is the process of change leading up to menopause. Non-surgical menopause can start as early as your late 30s. The duration of perimenopause is similar to puberty, occurring very slowly over a number of years but typically starts in our early 40s. 

If you are in perimenopause, irregular periods are often the first sign, either heavy or light. Other symptoms can also be present but may or may not be associated with changes in reproductive hormones. 

Menopause happens after your menstrual period has stopped and not returned for 12 consecutive months. As women age, their hormone levels decline and the ovaries stop functioning. For us ladies, oestrogen and progesterone play important – but often hidden – roles in keeping your body healthy. As they decline, other hormones increase and we transition into a new version of ourselves. Menopause does not require treatment unless symptoms become bothersome. Up to 80 per cent of those experiencing menopause report a range of symptoms with varying intensities. 

Natural menopause is the spontaneous ending of menstruation not caused by disease or intervention such as surgery, chemotherapy, or pelvic radiation therapy. 

Surgical menopause takes place after both ovaries are surgically removed, causing immediate menopause to occur. Surgery to remove the uterus – known as a hysterectomy – does not cause menopause if the ovaries remain in place (although menstruation will stop after a hysterectomy). 

Premature menopause occurs before age 40. The cause may be related to poor general health, genetics or the increasing levels of hormones in the environment. In some cases, premature menopause can be caused by some autoimmune diseases (conditions where your immune system becomes dysregulated). In these cases, your health-care provider may look for coexisting autoimmune conditions such as thyroiditis and lupus. Rare causes of premature menopause include ovarian tissue damage during surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. 

Post menopause occurs after our periods have ceased. This is a new phase of life for women often associated with great power. Strong feelings can arise and even more change can occur in a woman’s life. It’s not untypical for a women to change careers, start studying or travel overseas. Symptoms can also arise so being as healthy as you can be is important for preventing lifestyle diseases such as breast cancer, heart disease and depression.

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Brenda Rogers

With over 25 years experience as a corporate trainer, naturopath, yoga teacher and wise woman educator, Brenda is the head clinician and coach at Quintessence Health.

"A healthy mind and body simply ensures you have the time and energy to fully express and manifest your life’s purpose – it facilitates the unfolding of joy."

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