What is Menopause?

I won't even attempt to give a medical definition for menopause.  There are so many great websites out there that do a much better job.  
(see below for the links)

What I can tell you is that menopause is a natural occurring cycle in a woman's life where her body changes from being able to get pregnant to not being able to.  Most women have already come to terms with this change in their heart years earlier after giving birth to their last child or choosing or accepting that they would have none, but their bodies were not ready to change yet from the child bearing years to the non-childbearing years.

It is not an illness.

It is not a curse.

It is a change in a woman's life that brings them through a season of growth and maturity.

It can be a beautiful time.

It can be a difficult time.

Basically, a woman's ovaries stop releasing an egg and therefore that woman does not have a menstrual cycle.  This is caused by lower levels of estrogen and progesterone or sometimes from removal of the ovaries, or other medical treatments.  

It can take years for this process to complete and is considered done when a woman has not had a period for over a year, although some of the symptoms may continue after the period has not.

Hot flashes, vaginal and breast changes, incontinence, bad cholesterol (LDL) can rise, bone loss, thinning of skin, mood swings, thinning of hair, depression, and palpitations are but a few of the symptoms of menopause.

Some women experience more difficult symptoms while others breeze through this change.  

Attitudes vary from joy to have the freedom of no more periods, 
excitement to be entering a new phase of life, 
to anger, depression, and suicide.

Menopause is not the beginning and it is not the end - it is the middle.