Menopause is felt differently for every woman. While one feels no symptoms at all, the other suffers severe complaints. But they also pass, as the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWG) reports.
Hot flashes, sleep disorders, mood swings: some women experience such symptoms during menopause. The most effective treatment is hormone treatment, it says on the patient information portal of the institute. But even without therapy, the symptoms in almost all affected women subside over time and eventually go away on their own.
Menopause announces itself so gently that some people don't even notice it. Other women feel the onset clearly through physical symptoms. For some the bleeding is sometimes stronger and sometimes less, for others the intervals between the bleeding become irregular.
On average, the last bleeding occurs at 51 years, the menopause. Until then, a woman can still get pregnant. The menopause can only be determined afterwards - as a rule of thumb: if the menstrual period has not occurred for twelve months, the last bleeding was most likely the menopause. If it occurs before the age of 40, it is referred to as "premature".
The one or two years before the last menstrual period are called premenopause, the time after that is postmenopause. During this period, the body adapts to a new hormonal balance. How long menopause lasts varies from woman to woman. Usually it's a few years. The menopause is sometimes called "climacterium", after the Latin "climacter" = step ladder, in ancient times symbol for a "critical point in human life".
There is evidence that the age at which a woman has had her last period is hereditary. This means that menopause occurs about the same age in mothers and daughters. There are probably other factors that influence the time of menopause, such as the number of births. This could also explain why women in developing countries with higher birth rates experience menopause earlier.
In addition, menopause could start earlier for heavy smokers. Overweight and underweight or the cycle length should also influence their start. However, there is no clear evidence for any of these assumptions, the institute continues. (pm)