Aging & Health A to Z
Basic Facts & Information
As women get older, they may be less likely to get regular gynecological care. Gynecology is the medical practice dealing with the health of the female reproductive system, which includes the ovaries, uterus, and vagina. Women who are past their childbearing years still need gynecological care, and many conditions affecting the female reproductive system occur in the later years, after menopause.
Menopause has occurred once a woman has had no menstrual period for 12 months. The average age of menopause in the U.S. is 51. Menopause is not a single event, but a process. The beginning of the transition to menopause usually begins in the 40s, when the ovaries start to produce less of the female hormone estrogen. This period of time is called perimenopause. During perimenopause, menstrual periods become more irregular – shorter or longer – and eventually stop. After one year with no menstrual period, a woman is said to be “postmenopausal”.
A number of changes associated with menopause can affect women’s health and well-being. It is important to address these changes to help women remain active and independent, especially since one-third of a woman’s entire lifespan is now spent after menopause.
Updated: July 2017
Posted: March 2012