All three stages have different biochemical body changes. Menopause is often a blanket term used to describe any of the stages. However, we’re here to debunk common terms and help explain what’s really going on in your body, encouraging you to know it’s part of the process.
There are actually three stages of menopause:
Perimenopause is what most people call “menopause.” It is the transitional phase to menopause, which when you’ve gone a full 12-months without a period. It can last from 2 to 10 years and can include a myriad of signs and symptoms, most commonly associated with hot flashes, erratic periods and mood swings.
This happens as your body produces fewer hormones during the follicular and luteal phases of your cycle until you stop ovulating altogether and reach menopause.
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Menopause is officially reached the day they’ve done 12 full months without a cycle. Yes, technically it is just one day.
The average age of menopause in the US is 51. Again, that can vary widely. And it is possible to enter menopause very quickly in response to cancer treatment or other health issues.
Immediately following the day you’ve gone 12 months without a period, you’ll enter post-menopause. You’ll remain in this phase for the rest of your life.
Luckily, many symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings may ease, but some may continue.
Women may continue to experience urinary frequency, urgency and urinary infections as well as increased vaginal dryness.
And unfortunately, post-menopause brings other health challenges, like higher risk of developing diabetes, osteoporosis, mental health issues (like dementia and depression) and heart disease. Regular monitoring and assessments with your doctor are important to help mitigate these risks.
The positive sides? Many women report they feel what Margaret Mead called “postmenopausal zest.” No longer riding the wave of the cycle and often no longer giving as much energy to others, women find more time for themselves.
In fact, a study has shown optimism peaks at 55.
Optimism Development Across Adulthood and Associations With Positive and Negative Life Events
Ted Schwaba, Richard W. Robins, Priyanka H. Sanghavi,
This article is intended for informational purposes and is not intended to replace a one-on-one medical consultation with a professional. Wile, Inc researches and shares information and advice from our own research and advisors. We encourage every woman to research, ask questions and speak to a trusted health care professional to make her own best decisions.