Menopause is the official marker for the end of female reproduction. Although menopause itself occurs when you stop menstruating, it progresses through three different stages, all of which are important to understand. Below, we explore the three stages of menopause, how they affect you, and what you can do to manage their symptoms. You should always discuss any questions, concerns, or unusual symptoms with your gynecologist.
Perimenopause begins several years before menopause. While it may not be possible to determine when exactly perimenopause or the menopause transition begins, for some women, symptoms start to show sometime around their 30s or 40s. This stage typically lasts about four years, though some women can experience it for up to ten years.
During this time, the ovaries start producing a lower amount of estrogen. Because of this, the menstrual cycle will become irregular and eventually stop altogether. When you haven’t had your period for 12 months, a healthcare professional will then confirm menopause.
Common symptoms of perimenopause include fatigue, emotional exhaustion, hot flushes, and insomnia—to mention a few. To manage hot flashes, your doctor may prescribe a low-dose birth control pill for some time. Other treatments available to help with the various symptoms of perimenopause may include low-dose antidepressant medication for perimenopausal depression and extreme mood swings.
Apart from being one of the best ways to manage burnout, deep breathing, yoga, and meditation are also additional practices you can take up to help you manage your symptoms.
Your doctor can make the diagnosis of perimenopause based on your symptoms, and logging your symptoms is the best way to keep track of how severe they are. A perimenopause app tracker can help with this, and we recommend MenoLife’s Women’s Health Tracker app.
Built for women entering the menopause transition phase, MenoLife Women’s Health Tracker offers women a secure platform to log their symptoms. When you log your symptoms on the app, you also get insights into what could be triggering your symptoms, and what the first thing you can do to manage them may be.
Menopause is officially diagnosed when you haven’t had your period for 12 consecutive months. While some women will go through menopause without much discomfort, for some, menopause symptoms can be debilitating. This is because these symptoms are linked to a decrease in the production of the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. As a result of this, menopause symptoms tend to vary due to the different effects that these hormones have on individual female bodies.
Estrogen regulates the menstrual cycle and a decrease in its production explains why you may begin to have irregular periods. This might start with a heavier or lighter flow, compared to what a regular flow looks like to you. Your period may also last longer, or shorter. Other symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood changes, and insomnia.
Menopause requires no medical treatment. Instead, several treatments are available to help you manage your symptoms. Menopause treatments like hormone therapy and cold water swimming have been known to manage hot flashes.
Postmenopause is the time following menopause. During this stage, some of the annoying symptoms of menopause will have abated. Also, due to the lower levels of estrogen at this stage, you will no longer be able to conceive or have a monthly menstrual cycle. As an added result of lower levels of estrogen, postmenopausal women are also at risk for a number of health conditions, such as osteoporosis, mental health issues, vaginal dryness, and cardiovascular disease.
Hormone therapy and making healthy lifestyle changes may reduce the risk of developing some of these conditions. However, as every woman’s risk factors are different, consult your doctor to find a health plan that can help to reduce your individual risk.