Menopause Symptoms & Complications

  • The pituitary gland (red, lower left) controls the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which prompts ovulation. During menopause, the pituitary gland stops producing FSH. Some of the symptoms associated with menopause include vaginitis, atherosclerosis & osteoporosis. A hormone replacement therapy (HRT) patch (lower right) replaces hormones transdermally, easing symptoms.

  • This colored scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of an endometrium shows signs of menopause. After menopause endometrial cells have short microvilli with large gaps between them. Microplicae, small ridges that are a characteristic menopause feature, are seen on the cells.

  • As a woman approaches menopause the glandular component of the breast decreases and is replaced by adipose tissue, a fibrous connective tissue packed with fat cells. Here, fibrous tissue appears as the fine white network across the breast.

  • Comparative Studies Lacking for Osteoporosis Drugs

    Comparative Studies Lacking for Osteoporosis Drugs

    A SEM showing osteoporotic bone. Osteoporosis causes a reduction in overall bone mass and an increase in porosity, making it more brittle and likely to fracture. It commonly affects post-menopausal women, who experience a decrease in levels of the hormone estrogen. Treatment is with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and drugs that slow bone-loss rates.

  • Hirsutism, or excessive and increased hair growth in women in locations where terminal hair is normally minimal or absent, is a symptom of menopause caused by hormone imbalance, particularly higher levels of androgen hormones.

  • Between 20% and 80% of women develop uterine fibroids prior to or during menopause. Uterine fibroids are small, benign muscular tumors that occur mostly among women aged 40 years to 50 years. Women with fibroids may report feeling fullness in the pelvic area, enlarged lower abdomen, frequent urination and pain during sex. Fibroids usually shrink after menopause.

  • HRT is a treatment that replaces the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone with synthetic versions, thereby reducing menopause symptoms. HRT also helps prevent atherosclerosis and osteoporosis. HRT should not last longer than five years due to the increased risk for developing breast cancer, myocardial infarction, stroke and blood clots.

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Menopause is the cessation of the fertile period of a woman's life that usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 years and is signaled by ceased production of the hormone estrogen. During menopause, a woman's ovaries stop making eggs and they produce less estrogen and progesterone.

Periods occur less often and eventually stop. This can happen suddenly, but most frequently, periods slowly stop over time. Symptoms vary from woman to woman, but occur during a period of five years or longer. They may include hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, decreased libido, irritability, incontinence and vaginal dryness. Learn more about the symptoms and complications associated with menopause in this slideshow.

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