Menopause or climacteric, just a semantic discussion or has it clinical implications?

Climacteric. 2014 Jun;17(3):235-41. doi: 10.3109/13697137.2013.838948. Epub 2013 Nov 7.


Climacteric and menopause are two terms that are indistinctly used to name clinical expected events related to the decline in ovarian function. Thus, in the literature and in clinical settings we read and hear 'menopausal symptoms' or 'climacterics symptoms'. Globally, the term menopause is much more frequently used than climacteric but, before we use either one, we should consider that 'menopause' is referring to a specific event, the cessation of menses, and 'climacteric' to gradual changes of ovarian function that start before the menopause and continue thereafter for a while. In the premenopause period, hormonal changes will take place that are associated with symptoms, which deteriorate the quality of life, and with metabolic changes which increase the risk of chronic diseases. Therefore, the word climacteric ('steps' in Greek) seems more adequate to refer to the symptoms and chronic diseases associated with the gradual decrease of ovarian function, and we should leave the term 'menopause' only for naming the event of cessation of menstruation that will happen later as the consequence of the decline in ovarian activity. This differentiation has clinical importance, because it implies that, during the premenopausal period, the impact that the decrease in estrogen has on the health status of women must be assessed and, if it is pertinent, we should indicate lifestyle changes, hormonal therapy, hypolipidemic drugs, etc. It does not seem proper to wait for the cessation of menstrual bleeding before some intervention is started. The decay of women's health starts many years before menopause and prevention of its consequences is a must for us, the clinicians.


Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Atrophy / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Climacteric / physiology
  • Female
  • Hot Flashes / etiology
  • Humans
  • Menopause* / physiology
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / epidemiology
  • Semantics
  • Terminology as Topic*
  • Vagina / pathology*