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Understanding Menopause

Picture of older women around a birthday cakeUnderstanding Menopause

"I was 45 when I first started having night sweats. I'd wake up in the middle of the night, and even though the air conditioner was running full blast, I'd be covered in sweat. Those night sweats — and the other symptoms I began to notice — suddenly made me feel old. One day, I'm a young woman in her prime, and the next day, I'm worrying about whether or not I'm prepared for retirement, and thinking about 'getting my affairs in order.' It was a classic overreaction."

"I didn’t really worry about menopause. It’s just one of those things that all women go through. Sure, I was bothered by some symptoms. But they were manageable — they didn’t slow me down."

"No longer having periods or needing to think about birth control was a welcome change!"

These women are talking about their experiences with menopause – what many women refer to as the "change of life" that signals the end of a woman's reproductive years. While menopause used to mean withdrawal from active life for many women, this is not true today. Yet, some women still worry about what will happen and what they should do when menopause arrives. Women may experience a wide range of feelings, from anxiety and discomfort, to release and relief. Most adapt to the changes and continue to live well and remain healthy through these transitions.

"Today, women entering menopause are healthier, feel younger than their years, and lead more active lives..."

Most of today's women will live 25 to 30 years — one-third of their lives — after menopause. An understanding of the body's changes during this phase of life can ease the transition, and equally important, better prepare you to safeguard your health during your later years. There are many different considerations a woman needs to take as she approaches menopause. Specific treatment for menopausal symptoms will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Current symptoms
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Your opinion or preference

Today, women entering menopause are healthier, feel younger than their years, and lead more active lives and careers than previous generations. Despite the problems menopause may bring, the years afterward are the most productive and satisfying for many women.

Content last updated May 29, 2008.

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