Even though menopause is a natural, biological process, it is still something that makes many women uneasy – and it is definitely not talked about enough! Given the fact that your body goes through significant changes during this time, it is incredibly important to understand what happens when you go through menopause.
In this blog, we are going to unpack exactly what happens during the four stages of menopause so that you can better navigate this transition!
What Is Menopause?
Menopause is defined as the one year anniversary of menstrual cessation, or the end of your menstrual period. Oftentimes, the term menopause is used to describe the entire phase of the menopausal transition years, but in actuality you are only “in” menopause for that one day when it has been a complete year without menstrual bleeding.
What Age Does Menopause Start?
Typically, menopause occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, but some women experience menopause earlier in their 40s or later in their 50s. The entire menopause process lasts about seven years on average. However, it can be as long as 14 years.
What Are the Four Stages of Menopause?
There are four stages of menopause, each of which have their own symptoms, hormone levels, and age range/duration. The four stages are:
1) Premenopause Stage
2) Perimenopause Stage
3) Menopause Stage
4) Postmenopause Stage
Here’s a deep dive into what you can expect during each of these four stages:
As its name suggests, the premenopause stage occurs before the menopausal transition takes place. During this time, a woman has her regular menstrual cycle and has no noticeable symptoms of menopause.
Most women will be in this stage of menopause up until their 40s.
Perimenopause is the time during which your body makes the transition to menopause. Your body starts producing less testosterone and progesterone, and estrogen levels rise and fall unpredictably, which can cause an irregular menstrual cycle.
Perimenopause usually begins eight to 10 years before menopause takes place. For many women, perimenopause starts during their 40s, However, some women start to notice changes as early as their mid-30s.
Some Symptoms of perimenopause include:
Irregular menstrual cycles
Uterine bleeding issues
Vaginal dryness and sexual dysfunction
Hot flashes and night sweats
Changes in mood, and increased anxiety/depression
As mentioned previously, menopause occurs when you have gone without a period for 12 consecutive months. As such, women “experience” menopause only on that one day in their life.
Menopause usually occurs for most women sometime between their mid-40s and mid-50s, but this varies from person to person. The average age of menopause for a woman in the United States is 51 years old.
The symptoms of menopause are virtually the same as the symptoms of perimenopause, and the drop in estrogen levels is the cause of most of these symptoms. Your body also produces very little testosterone by the time you experience menopause. A lot of perimenopausal symptoms will oftentimes diminish or disappear after menopause has occurred and the body adjusts to the absence of female hormones.
Postmenopause takes place after you have surpassed a full year without a menstrual cycle and menopause has occurred. This stage lasts for the rest of your life.
During this time, many of the symptoms that are associated with perimenopause and menopause gradually decrease. However, due to lower levels of hormones like estrogen, postmenopausal women are at an increased risk for various health conditions, including:
There you have it – a look into what you can expect during the four stages of menopause. To make this transitional time as smooth as possible, it is best to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes getting at least seven hours of sleep every night, exercising regularly, managing stress, and eating more healthy, whole foods as opposed to sugar and refined carbs. You may also want to consider seeing a health professional who specializes in women’s health and deals with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.