Stages of menopause

Published June 26, 2014

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Menopause is a normal natural process that marks the end of a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle and her reproductive years. Most women reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55 with the average age of onset being 51.1 The menopausal period generally consists of three stages.

  • Perimenopause – Perimenopause refers to the time leading up to menopause when a woman may notice changes with her menstrual cycle. They may become shorter or longer in duration and cause lighter or heavier periods.2 It’s a time when female hormone levels can fluctuate widely causing various symptoms in many women such as hot flushes, night sweats, tiredness, mood changes sleeplessness and vaginal dryness. On average, perimenopause lasts for 4‐6 years with symptoms appearing gradually over this time, before the final menstrual period.1 To learn ways to help manage your menopause symptoms see /signs-symptoms-menopause-manage.
  • Menopause – When a woman has had no period for 12 consecutive months she will have reached menopause.1 At this stage, the ovaries will no longer be releasing eggs or producing oestrogen or progesterone.
  • Post menopause – Post menopause is the time after menopause. During this stage, menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes will taper off for most women. This is also when there is a greater risk of certain health conditions including osteoporosis due to lower levels of oestrogen. To reduce the rate of bone loss that can occur after menopause, women should increase their intake of calcium, ensure adequate vitamin D levels, exercise regularly and stop smoking if applicable.3 After menopause women should also be proactive about their heart health by having regular health check‐ups and staying physically active. A healthy diet is also important; ensure you include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and omega‐3 rich fatty fish.4

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