The word “menopause” is derived from the Greek words men and pausis, referring to the cessation of menstruation. The menopause can actually only be defined in retrospect, when there has been 12 months or more since the final menstrual period. The final menstrual period or menopause is preceded by a phase called the menopausal transition (lasting an average of 4 years), during which there are considerable fluctuations in hormonal levels and cycle lengths. The menopause essentially marks the end of reproductive function and signals that ovarian hormone production has dropped significantly and will remain very low or negligible. And, the final menstrual period is exactly that – the very last period! (Yay!)
More information on the menopause can be found at www.managingmenopause.org.au.
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Burger HG, Dudley EC, Robertson DM, Dennerstein L. Hormonal changes in the menopause transition. Recent Progress in Hormone Research, Vol 57 2002:257-75.