Menopause is when a woman’s body begins to naturally decrease its production of reproductive hormones, signaling the end of a woman’s fertile phase of life. She’s considered officially in menopause when she has not had her period for one year. The average age of menopause onset is fifty-one in the United States, while the global age is around forty-six.
The Stages of Menopause
Menopause can be brought on by ovarian damage or underdevelopment, or even from chemotherapy, radiation, or any condition that stops the ovaries from releasing eggs. When the process occurs naturally, women in their forties begin to notice lighter, shorter periods until eventually, they stop altogether. Contrary to popular belief, menopause isn’t just something that happens like flipping a switch. You’re not one day fertile and menopausal the next. Menopause is a gradual process.
What Is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause is the earliest stage, usually occurring three to five years or so before full menopause. During this point, a woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels begin to drop. During this time, women experience many of the classic symptoms associated with menopause: hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, mood shifts, and urinary incontinence. Periods may start and stop, become too long or too short. You should note that it is possible to become pregnant in this stage—use birth control as you normally would.
Stage 2: Menopause
Once you’ve reached menopause, your ovaries have stopped producing estrogen and progesterone. The symptoms of night sweats, sleeplessness, and hot flashes generally continue and are often accompanied by mood swings and mental fog from the hormonal shifts. In some cases, the mental and emotional effects of menopause can be severe. Some women report crippling depression, anxiety, lack of motivation, or aggressive tendencies that affect their everyday lives. Lifestyle adjustments can help, along with drug therapies and psychotherapy, but in some cases, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) (read more about it here) may be the best option.
What Does Postmenopause Mean?
The stage of life many women look forward to: The postmenopausal stage of menopause. Once pregnancy is no longer a possibility, many women feel like they can shift their goals to focus more on their own needs, and some see it as a fresh start for the second half of their lives. The symptoms also begin to ease off as the body becomes accustomed to the new balance of hormones. There are some downsides. Because the body is no longer producing estrogen, you become at greater risk for heart disease, osteoporosis, and autoimmune disorders. The postmenopausal stage is the perfect time to make an appointment with your HealthLynked provider to discuss revamping your long-term health plan. Make an appointment to get a healthier you today.