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Women's Reproductive Health: Menopause

Woman smiling.Menopause is a normal change in a woman’s life when her period stops. A woman has reached menopause when she has not had a period for 12 months in a row. During menopause a woman’s body slowly makes less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. This often happens between the ages of 45 and 55 years old. Some women may experience menopause at younger ages because of medical treatments such as surgery to remove the ovaries (sometimes done at the same time as a hysterectomy), family history (genes), or cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation to the pelvic area. According to U.S. Census data from 2000, there are about 37.5 million women reaching or currently at menopause (ages 40 to 59).

As women near menopause, they may have symptoms from the changes their body is making. Some women may not have any other symptoms at all. Symptoms that some women experience near menopause include hot flashes (getting warm in the face, neck, or chest), night sweats or sleeping problems that led to feeling tired, stressed or tense, vaginal changes (the vagina may become dry and thin and sex may be painful) and thinning of bones, which may lead to loss of height and bone breaks. If a woman would like to treat her symptoms, she should talk to her health care provider to discuss treatment options.

Selected Resources

Division of Reproductive Health's: Fertility Epidemiology Studies (FES)
Fertility Epidemiology Studies (FES) conducts epidemiologic research and surveillance on fertility and other reproductive health issues throughout the lifespan, including contraceptive safety and efficacy, prevention of unintended pregnancy, menopause, hysterectomy, and adverse reproductive sequelae of childhood abuse and household dysfunction ...more

Menopause and Hormone Therapy (National Women’s Health Information Center )

Menopause and Menopause Treatments Fact sheet (National Women's Health Information Center)
Also available in Spanish

Perimenopause Fact sheet (National Women's Health Information Center)
Also available in Spanish

Menopausal Hormone Therapy Information (National Institute of Health)
Results from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) research program.

Guidance on Menopausal Hormone Therapies (Food and Drug Administration)
Science-based informational materials from FDA.

National Library of Medicine
Conduct a search for more information about menopause and other health topics.

Related Resources

QuickStats: Annual Rate of Visits to Office-Based Physicians and Hospital Outpatient Departments During Which Combination Estrogen-Progestin Hormone Therapy Was Prescribed for Women Aged >40 years, by Age Group—United States, 2001–2003
Source: MMWR 2006,55(38);1047.

Hormone Replacement Therapy: Knowledge and Use in the United States PDF Icon View PDF 2.4MB
This chartbook offers researchers, healthcare professionals, and policy makers an inventory of information available about HRT use from recent nationally representative data collected by NCHS.

Menopause: One Woman’s Story, Every Woman’s Story* (National Institute on Aging)
Describes menopause—what happens in a woman’s body leading up to and after her last period and what changes to expect after that transition.

NAMS (North American Menopause Society)*

American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology*

Search PubMed for articles on Menopause
This search is being conducted on PubMed an NLM/NIH service.

Links to non-Federal organizations found at this site are provided solely as a service to our users. These links do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the Federal Government, and none should be inferred. The CDC is not responsible for the content of the individual organization Web pages found at these links.


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Date last updated: 11/16/2006
Date last reviewed: 06/20/2008
Content source: Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

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