Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Menopause is defined as the state of an absence of
menstrual periods for 12 months. The menopausal transition starts with varying menstrual cycle length and ends with the final menstrual period. Perimenopause is a term sometimes used and means "the time around menopause." It is often used to refer to the menopausal transitional period. It is not officially a medical term, but is sometimes used to explain certain aspects of the menopause transition in lay terms. "postmenopausal" is a term used to as an adjective to refer to the time after menopause has occurred. For example, doctors may speak of a condition that occurs in
"postmenopausal women." This refers to women who have already reached menopause.
Menopause is the time in a woman's life when the function of the ovaries
ceases. The ovary (female gonad), is one of a pair of reproductive glands in
women. They are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus. Each
ovary is about the size and shape of an almond. The ovaries produce eggs (ova) and female
hormones such as estrogen. During each
monthly menstrual cycle, an egg is released from one ovary. The egg travels from the ovary through a
Fallopian tube to the uterus.
The ovaries are the main source of female hormones,
which control the development of female body characteristics such as the
breasts, body shape, and body hair. The hormones also regulate the menstrual
cycle and pregnancy.
Estrogens also protect
the bone. Therefore, a woman can develop osteoporosis
(thinning of bone) later in life when her ovaries do not produce adequate
Perimenopause is different for each woman. Scientists are still trying to
identify all the factors that initiate and influence this transition period.
Reviewed by William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR on 3/5/2013