Three Stages of Menopause
Most people know that the menopause is a time in a woman’s life when she no longer has monthly periods. However, it’s not sudden and actually consists of three well defined stages and symptoms.
Perimenopause (also known as the menopausal transition) actually means ‘around menopause’; this stage marks the time when a woman’s reproductive ability is beginning to come to an end. Levels of oestrogen (one of the two main sex hormones in women) begin to fluctuate causing menstrual cycles of differing lengths until they finally stop. This menstrual irregularity usually occurs in women in their 40’s but can sometimes be earlier or later.
Once twelve consecutive months have passed without a menstrual period the second stage, clinical menopause has officially arrived. The last stage is post menopause, at this point it will have been longer than twelve months since a menstrual cycle and the ability to reproduce will have ended. The symptoms of perimenopause and clinical menopause will also begin to resolve.
There are a number of symptoms associated with perimenopause and clinical menopause; these include but are not limited to:
- Hot flushes and night sweats
- Mood changes
- Weight changes
- Dry skin
- Changes in sex drive
Many women do not experience these symptoms, but some may experience them severely. For those women that do experience such symptoms, it’s a good idea to see a doctor as hormone replacement therapy may help; this works by replacing hormones that may be at very low levels during menopause.