Recognizing the Stages of Menopause
Caring for your reproductive health as you age can be unnerving. One day everything is in order and then uncomfortable physical changes happen. Sometimes abruptly, other times over a lengthy period. It’s entirely natural to be nervous, but we’re here to help you navigate those changes confidently.
Women’s health differs from person to person and there’s no line-by-line guide to menopause. While personal research should never replace your local gynecologist, we encourage you to wade out on your own and seek materials for yourself. Here’s some information on the stages of menopause and what you can expect.
What IS Menopause?
Menopause is a natural biological phase in a woman’s life when she ceases to have her period every month, bringing an end to her reproductive years. The first stages of menopause, known as perimenopause happen to 90% of women prior to menopause and symptoms generally last four years.
Perimenopause can happen at a range of ages, but usually in a woman’s 40s her ovaries begin producing less estrogen as the body prepares for menopause when the ovaries cease producing eggs altogether. It’s the point when, quite literally, a woman has run out of eggs. The average age for menopause is 51, but women’s bodies are unique and it can occur in as early as your 30s and as late as your 60s, though usually between 40 and 58 years old.
Once a woman goes an entire calendar year without having her period, the rest of her life she’s considered post-menopausal. At this point, menstrual symptoms will ease up, but it has been found that women in this phase can be more susceptible to other health conditions. You should be in contact with your local gynecologist throughout this process, as they’ll have effective health management advice.
Every stage of menopause causes changes in body and emotional chemistry. The list of symptoms is vast and variable per person but can include: inability to concentrate, breast pain, mood swings, sexual disinterest/painful intercourse, hot flashes, and irregular menstruation. While menopause treatment is different for every woman, it’s easily accessible. That list isn’t meant to scare you, but lend some perspective such that when your change begins to occur, you’ll have the appropriate knowledge to find your own menopause solutions. If you don’t already have one, find a gynecologist and bolster your newfound knowledge with their medical expertise.