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Menopause is not a sudden change. During the months or years before menopause (perimenopause), the ovaries begin to run out of eggs. Less estrogen and progesterone are produced. This may bring on symptoms such as hot flashes. Twelve months after your last period, you’ve reached menopause. From that point on, you are in postmenopause.
In the years leading up to menopause, the ovaries produce less estrogen. Fewer eggs are released. Periods become less regular.
Common symptoms include:
Heavier or lighter periods
Longer or shorter time between periods
After menopause, very little estrogen is produced. As a result, the uterine lining does not thicken. Periods have ended.
Menopause can occur after a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) if the ovaries are also removed. Estrogen and progesterone levels decrease quickly. This may cause sudden and severe symptoms.
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