Menopause is a normal event in a woman's life and occurs when her menstrual cycle stops permanently due to hormonal changes. Every women's journey through menopause is unique. Some women find it an unsettling physical and emotional time, while others go through menopause without any problems.

Most women don't need treatment, but if you're bothered by symptoms or have other risk factors, make time to see the experts at The Christ Hospital Health Network. We have decades of experience helping women with these issues so they can get back to enjoying their pursuits.

Women reach menopause on average at age 51—a truly mid-life transition all women experience. It may happen earlier, as young as your 30s.

You’ll know you’ve come through menopause when you haven’t had a monthly period for one year. This may be a good time to add activities to your life that help you stay strong and healthy during this new phase of life.

Menopause causes

Menopause is a natural event that happens as a woman ages. By the time you reach your late 30s, your ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone the hormones that regulate your periods. You are then in a natural menopause when you stop having periods.

Menopause risk factors

While menopause occurs naturally for most women, some medical treatments and physical conditions can lead to early menopause. Talk with your doctor if you have any of these increased risk factors:

  • Autoimmune diseases—conditions that occur when your immune system attacks healthy cells

  • Chemotherapy and radiation—these treatments may induce menopause symptoms, though they may not be permanent

  • Chromosome defects—such as Turner Syndrome

  • Epilepsy – a brain disorder that causes recurring seizures

  • Primary ovarian insufficiency—may cause premature menopause when the ovaries fail to produce the normal levels of hormones

  • Smoking—can make menopause occur earlier and with more symptoms

  • Total hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy—these surgeries for cervical or other cancers will result in immediate menopause 

Menopause symptoms

Every woman is different, as are her menopause symptoms. It is also possible some symptoms are simply part of the aging process and not a symptom of menopause. You may want to keep track of any symptoms you experience and talk them through with your doctor.

Symptoms may include:

  • Changing feelings about sex

  • Irregular periods

  • Hot flashes

  • Mood changes

  • Osteoporosis

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Vaginal and urinary problems

When to see a doctor

Most women do not need to see a doctor as they experience menopause. However, call your doctor if symptoms are interfering with your sleep and daily life, or if you experience:

  • Bleeding after having no periods for six months or more

  • Bleeding between menstrual periods, when your periods are normally regular

  • Hot flashes, insomnia or mood swings that don't resolve on their own

  • Menstrual periods that are unusually heavy, irregular or much longer than normal

  • Pain or burning during urination

  • Unexplained bleeding while you are taking hormones

  • Vaginal pain or dryness that doesn't improve with other treatment

Do you have concerns about menopause? Discuss them with your gynecologists or make an appointment with one of our women’s health experts.

Decade by Decade