Development and Maturation
In this section we will consider the hormonal changes that occur at various stages of development in the body, beginning with puberty and then moving on to the menstrual cycle in more detail and finally the menopause.
Puberty is the term used to describe the developmental changes a child undergoes to become sexually mature and physiologically ready for reproduction. It normally begins between the ages of 8 to 14 in females, and between the ages of 10 to 16 in males.
We will then consider the menstrual cycle in detail. Menstruation occurs on a monthly cycle throughout female reproductive life. Menarche (the first menstrual cycle) normally occurs between the ages of 11 and 15 and the menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. The normal duration of a single cycle is 21-35 days.
The menopause is the end of the female reproductive life. It is a physiological process which begins as the perimenopause at around the age of 45 and progresses until the final menarche and end of fertility – the UK average is age 51. The menopause is associated with a range of symptoms which most women experience and if they become troublesome can result in them seeking medical assistance.