Symptoms and signs of menopause
Menopause symptoms and the associated signs of menopause are part of a woman’s natural reproductive cycle. Most women will have at least one of a variety of menopause symptoms at some time before, during or after the menopause.
During the early teens, your ovaries will start releasing an egg every month. If the egg is fertilized, pregnancy occurs. If there is no fertilization the egg dies. The uterine lining (endometrium) which was built up in preparation for pregnancy, breaks down and is shed – menstruation. There are 4 main hormones involved in the menstrual cycle:
- follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)
- luteinizing hormone (LH)
The two that concern you most with regard to signs of menopause and symptoms of menopause are estrogen and progesterone. The menstrual cycle can be divided into 3 parts:
In the pre-ovulatory phase, the developing egg releases a lot of estrogen. This makes the endometrium grow and thicken. In the post ovulatory phase, progesterone is secreted in increasing amounts from the corpus luteum which is left in the ovary after ovulation.
It acts to increase the blood supply to the endometrium making it water-logged and rich in nutrients. If pregnancy does not occur, the corpus luteum dies through lack of stimulation from a growing fetus. Following this, the secretion of estrogen and progesterone declines.
The endometrium does not have enough hormonal stimulation to thrive and starts to break down shedding the top 2 layers and leaving the basal layer intact. This is referred to as menstruation. In the absence of pregnancy, this cycle occurs roughly every month (22-35 days).