Menopause refers to the time when a woman has not had a menstrual period for a year. Menopause marks the end of a woman’s childbearing years. It is a natural life change; it is not a disease state or a disorder. The transition itself can be challenging for some women, but for others it is not difficult with proper health management.
The average age of menopause is around 50, but every woman’s body has a unique timeline. Some women stop menstruating in their mid-40s while others may continue into their mid-50s.
As you approach menopause, your body begins to ovulate less. Your hormone levels may go up and down. These hormonal fluctuations will cause changes in your periods and other symptoms. When your estrogen and progesterone levels have dropped low enough, your menstrual cycle will stop as you enter into menopause.
For more information, go to http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/menopause/DS00119.
Perimenopause refers to the time leading up to menopause. Many women start perimenopause around age 46. But it can start as early as the late 30s or as late as the 50s. Typically, perimenopause lasts about five years, but it can lasts from 2 to 8 years. During Perimenopause, you may have irregular periods or other symptoms as your hormonal levels fluctuate.
Common symptoms during perimenopause include:
- Irregular periods. Some women have light periods. Others have heavy bleeding. Your menstrual cycle may be longer or shorter, or you may skip periods
- Hot flashes
- Trouble sleeping
- Emotional change, mood swings; feeling grouchy, depressed, or worried
- Feeling that your heart is beating too fast or unevenly
- Problems with remembering or thinking clearly
- Vaginal dryness
- Decreased sexual desire
If you are experiencing two or more of these symptoms and you are within the ages of the late 30s to the early 50s, you should schedule an appointment with your gynecologist. For more imformation, go to http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/perimenopause/DS00554.
Menopause can be triggered by some medical or surgical procedures. Procedures that remove or seriously damage both ovaries can trigger menopause such as removal of ovaries during a hysterectomy. Chemotherapy has also been known to trigger menopause.
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