Change of life - Menopause
The “Change of Life” by GayLynn Belliston

Menopause, or the “change of life,” is a natural process that occurs in most women between the ages of 40-60, and is perhaps the most dreaded time of her life. The ability to bear children ends, and this can be an emotional blow to a woman’s self-image and sense of femininity. This loss, combined with the pressures of our “youth-oriented” culture can make this transition even more difficult. Social scientists have shown that a woman’s mental attitude at menopause is strongly influenced by cultural expectations and societal support for her changing role.

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SYMPTOMS
Achy joints -  Hot flashes - Changes in sexual desire -  Extreme sweating -  Headaches
 Conditions commonly  associated with PMS - Frequent urination - Early wakening
Vaginal dryness - Mood changes - Insomnia - Night sweats

At puberty, the female body begins a cycle of preparing for possible conception about every 28 days (on the average). This process is regulated by a continual change of balance between the hormones estrogen and progesterone. As these hormones begin to diminish, the body experiences a shift in balance and prepares for a new phase known as menopause (meno meaning month and pause meaning cessation).

So, menopause is a perfectly natural, normal state. Nature designed the system to protect the woman. When a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery can no longer be assured, she is deprived of the ability to become pregnant. The ovaries stop ovulation and become less-active in producing sex hormones. So, menstruation eventually stops (this process can be immediate or could take several months of erratic periods). Along with these changes, the blood level of estrogen goes down which is the main cause of menopausal problems.

Natural Changes
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A woman may have one, some, or none of these symptoms.
Symptoms can be very unpredictable and disturbing if a woman does not know they are related to menopause.