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What is menopause?

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Menopause occurs in all women eventually. During puberty, a girl begins menstruating and thus becomes fertile. She then continues to have her periods for another 30 to 40 years and during that time she may have children. The menopause is marked by the ending of menstruation, meaning the woman is no longer able to conceive. The change is caused by a fall in the hormone oestrogen produced by the body.

The periods do not generally stop all of a sudden, but gradually become less and less frequent. Women usually experience the menopause between the age of 50 and 60, but it can occur much earlier.

What are the symptoms?

Apart from their periods stopping, most women experience symptoms leading up to the menopause. The NHS provides an overview:

Hot flushes are the the most common symptom. The sufferer experiences a sudden, sometimes overpowering sensation of heat, usually starting in a part of the upper body, such as the face, chest or neck, and spreading. These may cause an increased heart rate and can also occur during the night.
Problems sleeping in general are common in women going through the menopause.
An increase in urinary tract infections, such as cystitis, has been linked to the condition.
Vaginal dryness, itchiness and general discomfort can also be a symptom.

What treatments are there?

Some women find their symptoms too severe to deal with on their own and around 10% seek medical help. There are various treatments available, including hormone replacement therapy. Antidepressants are also known to help many women get through the menopause.

According to Medicine Net’s Elaine Magee, the right nutrition can also have a significant effect on reducing symptoms. She recommends:

1. Eat More Tofu and Soy
2. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
3. Eat Beans More Often
4. Eat More of the Right Fats
5. Choose Your Beverages Wisely
6. Be a Grazer Not a Gorger
7. Eat Calcium-Rich Food Every Day
8. Avoid High-Fat, High-Sugar Foods
9. Add Flaxseed to Your Diet
10. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

When a woman has not had her period for one year, she is considered to be post-menopausal. By this point, the symptoms have disappeared or have become much milder.

Celebrities who have gone through menopause include Whoopi GoldbergSusan SarandonStevie NicksRosie O-Donnelland Jane Seymour.

Image: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1255724

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