Every year 400 000 women arrive in France at the age of menopause and more than ten million women are menopausal in our country.
Some clinical and laboratory manifestations can evoke the arrival of this key-stage of life. Discover them without delay.
Menopause is the ovaries stop functioning. In France, this phenomenon occurs at age 51, on average. But, there are fluctuations from one woman to another and It can occur naturally between 40 and 55 years. It is, in general, advanced a year or two in heavy smokers. Genetic factors influence the date of occurrence and it was found that the age of menopause is often the same from a mother to a daughter, but it is not mandatory. Unlike the age of puberty, It has not changed for decades and it is not modulated by taking the pill.
Before menopause, perimenopause
It is Reflecting the end of production of hormones by the ovaries, early menopause is difficult to identify precisely because the cessation of ovarian activity is gradual.It is thus preceded by a period, which lasts 3 to 4 years, where the ovaries start to function less well. We talk about perimenopause to characterize this phase of life of women who appear to 47 years on average, but sometimes much earlier.
During perimenopause, ovulations are less well, leading initially to a deficit of progesterone production, while the estrogen secretion is preserved. The relative excess of estrogen relative to progesterone can lead to swelling of the breasts or abdomen or obesity. The rules also tend to become increasingly irregular over time.
When approaching fifty, estrogen production drops to turn and vaginal dryness and hot flashes may occur.
After stopping rules
One day, the rules cease to appear, but remember this is not always definitive. They can occur again after very long breaks, cycles have become totally irregular. Even if you have no rules, your ovaries can also continue to produce estrogen for a year or two. If your doctor then prescribed a progestin for ten days a month cycles with the rules will reappear. This means that you’re not truly menopausal.
You really will be and it will be confirmed when the menopause progestogen treatment will never be followed by the appearance of rules, which means that the ovaries have stopped producing estrogen completely.
At menopause, hot flashes are observed in a large majority of women (two thirds or three quarters according to the authors). This disorder is associated with an overstimulation of brain centers (hypothalamus), which control the functioning of the ovaries to compensate for the lack of estrogen. And menopause is generally associated with increased cerebral origin of FSH and a collapse in the rate of estradiol. Hot flashes persist more than 5 years with one in two women and over 10 years with one in four women. Their intensity is variable, but some women are very shy and will benefit from hormone replacement therapy combining estrogen and progestin.
The post-menopause confirmed
After months or years of turbulence, hypothalamic dysfunction will stop, the brain FSH levels had been reduced tenfold and the ovaries permanently stop producing any hormone. This is post-menopause, which will last until the end of life. The risk of cardiovascular disease increases and can then install osteoporosis, encouraged by the lack of estrogen. The skin also tends to be less flexible and more dry and urinary problems may occur. All symptoms, we need to talk to your doctor, because today we have effective treatments to relieve.