You’ve been though the hot flashes and intermittent periods, your mood swings have abated, and, while menopause symptoms may still come and go for a while, generally things have settled down.

When you’ve had no periods for a year, the date of your last period was also the date of your actual menopause. In the medical view, from that date of your last period, you’re classed as being postmenopausal. The medical profession chooses to wait a year before deciding on the date of your menopause because of the erratic nature of your periods as your ovaries wind down.

For many women, this last period typically occurs around the age of 51, but it can happen earlier or later, depending on your genetic predisposition, your body clock, and whether you’ve had reproductive surgery.

Although the majority of women go through menopause as a natural process when they get older, age isn’t the only trigger for the winding down of your reproductive system. Other causes include surgical removal of your ovaries (known as oophorectomy), radiation therapy to your abdomen or pelvis, and chemotherapy to treat cancer. Whether nature or surgery have stopped your periods, once they’ve stopped permanently, you’re postmenopausal.

While the problems associated with the menopausal process, such as hot flashes, can continue for several years after menopause itself, there are other symptoms more typical of the post-transitional period. These include vaginal dryness and irritation, memory problems, osteoporosis, stress incontinence, and heart disease. The great news is that, although your doctor is likely to want to prescribe you HRT for many of them, there are plenty of natural solutions to them all.

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