Women and the Reproductive Lifecycle

Women and the Reproductive Lifecycle
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Menopause is the permanent end of menstruation. It's a turning point, not a disease, but it can have a big impact on a woman's well-being. Although women can experience physical upheaval from hot flashes, night sweats, and other menopausal symptoms, it can also be the start of a new and rewarding phase of a woman's life—and a golden opportunity to guard against major health risks such as heart disease and osteoporosis.1
What Is Menopause?
Menopause is a natural, biological state in a woman’s life. It occurs when a woman stops having her monthly menstrual cycle, and it marks the end of her reproductive years. Menopause occurs when a woman is in her late 40s to early 50s; however, women who have their ovaries surgically removed undergo “sudden” menopause.2
The Economic Burden of Menopause
Women with diagnosed menopausal symptoms (DMS) have significantly higher medical, pharmacy, and sick-leave costs, according to a study published in April 2013.3

Gender Differences

For both women and men, the changes in reproductive-hormone levels have an impact on health later in life. These changes, however, appear to have a greater impact on the health of women in comparison to their male counterparts.2


Common menopausal symptoms include:2

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Vaginal changes
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Mood changes
  • Urinary changes/stress incontinence
  • Skin changes

A major effect of menopause is a significant decrease in estrogen. It is unknown why some women pass through menopause with mild or no symptoms, while others struggle with more-bothersome symptoms.2

  • Approximately 55% of women going through menopause don’t do anything at all to treat symptoms.2
  • Approximately 75% of women experience hot flashes and night sweats at some point during perimenopause.2
  • About two-thirds of North American postmenopausal women experience hot flashes, and an estimated 10–20% of postmenopausal women have severe hot flashes. Most flashes last between 30 seconds and 5 minutes.2
  • Approximately 25% of women who experience hot flashes and night sweats have them for more than 5 years.2

Related Diseases and Conditions

Women lose an average of 25% of their bone mass from the time of menopause to age 60, due in large part to the loss of estrogen.2

  • Estrogen loss can also increase the risk of certain diseases, such as osteoporosis, which leads to hip, wrist, and spine fractures.2
  • Approximately 50% of women older than 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related bone fracture, and one-third of white women ages 65 and older will have a fracture of the spine in their lifetime.2

Coronary artery disease
After menopause, a woman’s risk for coronary artery disease increases.2 A decline in the natural hormone estrogen may be a factor in heart-disease increase among post-menopausal women. Estrogen is believed to have a positive effect on the inner layer of the artery wall, helping to keep blood vessels flexible.4

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1Website [Internet]. [cited 2013 Mar 21] Available from: http://www.webmd.com/menopause/ss/slideshow-menopause-overview

2Website [Internet]. [cited 2013 Mar 21] Available from: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/menopause/hic-what-is-perimenopause-menopause-postmenopause.aspx

3Website [Internet]. [cited 2013 Apr 03] Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23532198

4Website [Internet]. [cited 2013 Mar 21] Available from: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/Menopause-and-Heart-Disease_UCM_448432_Article.jsp