WOMEN AND MENOPAUSE
is the medical term for the end of a woman’s menstrual
period. It is
often called the “change of life” and marks the
transition between a woman’s childbearing years and her
Menopause is a natural part of aging and occurs as a
result of the gradual loss of estrogen, a hormone produced
in the ovaries. During
a period known as “perimenopause,” estrogen production
declines and women often develop irregular periods, hot
flashes, mood swings and fatigue.
These symptoms often develop 3 to 5 years before a
woman’s last period.
Menopause is diagnosed when a woman has been without
a period for one year.
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in African American Women
affects all women regardless of race or socioeconomic
recent studies have shown that the experience of menopause
is different among different racial groups.
African Americans have more estrogen related symptoms
(hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, urine leakage)
than all the other ethnic groups.
Additionally, African Americans are less likely to
have somatic symptoms (headaches, difficulty sleeping,
racing heart, stiffness and soreness in joints) than all
other ethnic groups.
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are the signs and symptoms of Menopause?
is a very individualized experience.
Research has proven, however, that low estrogen
levels are responsible for a variety of uncomfortable
symptoms, which will be outlined below.
Hot flashes: Hot
flashes are the most common symptom of menopause, affecting
more than 60 percent of menopausal women. A hot flash is a sudden, often fleeting sensation ranging
from warmth to intense heat that usually begins in the face
or upper chest and spreads over the body.
These flashes usually last from 30 seconds to several
minutes and are often accompanied by a rapid heart rate and
feelings of anxiety.
Irregular Menstrual Periods:
Episodes of heavy bleeding and/or of infrequent cycles.
Cycles may be longer or shorter.
Irregular menstrual cycles may occur 2 – 8 years
before the end of your periods. Not all cases of irregular bleeding are caused by menopause.
Consult your physician.
Many women report an increased level of anxiety and
irritability as the “change” occurs.
results from lack of vaginal lubrication.
This is caused by a deficiency of estrogen and may
contribute to a decrease in sexual satisfaction.
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most important complications of menopause include:
Osteoporosis: A deficiency of estrogen leads to a loss of bone mass.
The loss could result in curvatures, fractures, and
The risk of heart attacks and strokes increases in
Without estrogen, vaginal and bladder tissues begin to
degenerate, causing dryness, painful intercourse, painful
urination and incontinence.
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**: Hormone replacement
Calcium supplementation for prevention of osteoporosis: Postmenopausal
should take 1,000 to
1,500 mg of calcium daily.
Eating a reasonable diet low in fat, salt, and caffeine.
Establish a moderate exercise program to benefit the heart
*Do not be afraid to speak to your doctor with
your concerns about menopause.*
National Institute of Health. www.nih.gov
**Menopausal Hormone Replacement Therapy. National
Cancer Institute. www.nci.nih.gov