Menopause is the stage in life that marks the end of your reproductive years. Menopause is divided into three stages: perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause. These stages are often lumped together, but they each have definable changes.
Perimenopause is considered menopausal transition. This stage can begin eight to 10 years before menopause when the ovaries begin to produce less estrogen over time. Your estrogen decline accelerates in the last two years of perimenopause up until the ovaries stop releasing eggs. However, you will still have menstrual cycles, although they can be irregular, and during this stage you can still get pregnant.
Menopause is when the ovaries have stopped releasing eggs and producing most of their estrogen. Menopause is diagnosed when you haven’t had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months.
This is the stage after you haven’t experienced a period for an entire year — and is the stage you’re in for the rest of your life. During this stage, menopausal symptoms may ease up, but some women continue to experience menopausal symptoms for a decade or longer after the menopause transition.
Women typically experience symptoms of menopause between the ages of 44-58, with an average age of 51. However, women in their 30s and 60s may also experience their first symptoms.
Women experience a variety of symptoms as they go through menopause, which can cause changes from head to toe. Read more about the common symptoms below, why they happen and what you can do.
It’s easy to brush off menopause symptoms as a part of the natural aging process. However, this time in your life should be a time to celebrate. So, don’t trick yourself into thinking you have to suffer. Talk with your healthcare providers — including your gynecologist, general practitioner, and mental wellness clinician — about your symptoms and concerns.