During what the medical community refers to as "mid-life", both men and women undergo significant physiological changes. Women between the ages of 45 and 65 pass through a period called the climacteric. Menopause, the end of ovulation and menstruation, occurs during that period.
The changes that a woman undergoes during menopause do not affect every woman to the same extent. A survey done by the North American Menopause Society has found that 10 to 15% of the women who experience the changes associated with menopause have viewed those changes as part of a positive progression in the entire life cycle.
Many women have viewed menopause as a time of increased opportunities. As many as 60% of the women who were surveyed saw menopause as a time when they felt freer to try new things. That same percentage of women refused to associate menopause with any suggestion that they had become less "attractive".
Menopause does put a woman in position from which she must act, if she wants to avoid future heart and circulatory problems. The absence of ovulation brings with it a loss of estrogen in the woman's bloodstream. That loss can have serious health consequences.
The loss of estrogen means that the arteries of a menopausal woman suddenly lack access to the chemical that had allowed them to remain pliant. The loss of estrogen puts the woman at an increased risk for clots. It also reduces the level of high density lipoproteins and raises the level of low density lipoproteins.
Following the arrival of menopause, the process of bone loss, a process that started more than 10 years earlier, suddenly occurs at a very rapid rate. In the first five years after menopause, the rate at which a woman experiences bone loss increases annually by 2 to 5%. Women then must act to prevent developing osteoporosis.
The prevention of both heart problems and osteoporosis relies on the behavior of the woman who has gone through menopause. Such a woman benefits from engaging in regular exercise. That will strengthen both her heart and her bones. A low fat diet should help her to avoid serious heart problems. A high calcium diet should help her to maintain the strength in her bones.
Other problems associated with menopause might not respond to exercise and diet changes. Some women struggle with repeated hot flashes during menopause. Some women have trouble sleeping. Other women complain about feeling unexpected discomfort during intercourse.
The use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help a woman to deal with the above problems. Use of HRT might also be recommended for a woman who has urinary tract problems following menopause. Some women even feel that use of HRT has helped them to retain a good deal of their memory.
Not all women seek out the relief afforded by HRT. A growing body of evidence suggests that the combination of synthetic estrogen and progesterone can increase a woman's chances for developing breast cancer. Some women have sought relief from selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERM).