Menopause causes your body to undergo many changes.
Preparing for the changes and symptoms you can experience may be easier if you understand the process your body is going through.
Natural menopause occurs when:
- Your ovaries naturally stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone
- You go 12 consecutive months without having a period
- No other biological or physiological cause can explain the missed periods
When does menopause begin?
Menopause begins at different times for different women, but most can expect it between the ages of 45 and 55. Whether you have reached menopause naturally or it has occurred due to surgery of the uterus and ovaries (called a hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy), this loss of estrogen can result in a variety of physical symptoms.
Common menopausal symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal symptoms that may vary in intensity. Bone loss may also occur as a result of the change in your body’s estrogen levels. When bone loss happens due to menopause, it can lead to osteoporosis.
A transition in 3 stages.
During this time of your life, your body usually moves through three gradual stages, unless your menopause is a result of surgery to remove your ovaries (bilateral oophorectomy), which ends the cycle immediately.
Perimenopause: Perimenopause is the time when estrogen production from your ovaries starts to decline and symptoms such as erratic periods, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness may begin. Most women reach this stage of the process in their late 40s.
Menopause: Menopause is identified by the passing of your final menstrual period. Of course, you will not be able to pinpoint your final period until you've been completely free from menstruation for some time. Once you've gone a full 12 months without having your period, count back to the time of your last period and that date is the date of your menopause. While the time of menopause is different from woman to woman, most begin between the ages of 45 and 55.
Postmenopause: Postmenopause is the stage of life after your final menstrual period.
It's important to talk to your doctor or other healthcare professional about the effects these changes may have on your body and your health.