An Overview of the Extent and Nature of Menopause and Its Physiological Basis

Part of the Nutrition and Health book series (NH)


  • Menopause is defined as the permanent cessation of menstruation due to depletion of the follicle pool.

  • The menstrual cycle and changes in the cyclic pattern until a complete stop are orchestrated by gonadotrophins, steroids, and inhibins.

  • The median age at natural menopause is around 50–51, for centuries and across populations.

  • Menopause is associated with vasomotor menopausal symptoms; of other symptoms such as incontinence, depressed feelings, and vaginal dryness it is not clear whether it is the menopause per se that causes these symptoms and complaints, or whether aging also plays a major role.

  • Early menopause is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis and a decreased risk of breast cancer.

  • These effects are generally ascribed to estrogens, but for osteoporosis and breast cancer this is much more clear than for cardiovascular disease.


Menopause Endocrinology Epidemiology Physiology Vasomotor menopausal symptoms 



Final menstrual period


Stages of reproductive aging workshop


Luteinizing hormone


Follicle-stimulating hormone


Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone


Vasomotor menopausal symptoms


Cardiovascular diseases


Coronary heart disease


Hormone therapy


Heart and estrogen/progestin replacement study


Women’s Health Initiative trial


Bone mineral density


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary CareUniversity Medical Center UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands

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