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Menopause occurs naturally when a woman exhausts the supply of oocytes (eggs) with which she began; it may also occur when her ovaries are removed surgically, or exposed to the effects of chemotherapy or radiation. The loss of the hormones that she produced during her reproductive years will affect the function of a number of target tissues, including the genitourinary system, the cardiovascular system, the skin, breast, brain and skeleton.

Sometimes the menopause is accompanied by significant symptoms, particularly hot flashes and sleep disturbance, that can severely disrupt a woman’s quality of life. For these women, the use of replacement hormone therapy (HT) can make a very positive contribution to wellbeing. For other women, menopause may result in few or no symptoms, in which case HT is not usually advisable, although some conditions may warrant a consideration of HT. Menopause does result in some physiological changes, and different therapies (for example, to maintain or restore bone density, or to correct abnormal lipid changes) may be appropriate.

A 50-year old woman in Canada can expect to live on average another 30 years, and making the most of those years is critical. Individually assessing a menopausal woman’s health risks and needs, and considering the options available to help, are the key activities of the services offered to menopausal women in the BC Women's Centre for Reproductive Health



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