Stages of Menopause: What to Expect in Each Stage
During each stage of menopause, a woman’s hormones undergo significant hormonal changes that can come with noticeable side effects. While each of the stages of menopause is a normal part of a woman’s aging process, many women do not understand what is happening to them when the time comes.
Menopause can be broken down into three four general stages, which can make it easier to identify which stage you’re in. In this brief overview, we’ll explore each of the three stages of menopause and what might occur during each stage. So, what are the three stages of menopause?
Early Stages of Menopause: Perimenopause
The time period before menopause occurs is referred to as perimenopause, or sometimes premenopause. This transition period occurs over several years (can even be as much as 8 to 10 years) prior to menopause. In the beginning stages of menopause, your ovaries naturally experience a decline in estrogen production. Eventually, your ovaries stop releasing eggs altogether when you reach the menopause stage.
Some women may experience menopausal symptoms in the perimenopause stage, while others may not. As you approach the menopause stage, you may notice more symptoms associated with a rapid drop in estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Women can experience a wide array of symptoms from the decline in estrogen, such as shorter or irregular periods, changes in mood, vaginal dryness, aching joints, brain fog or fatigue, headaches, decreased libido, and more.
Managing these perimenopause symptoms can be extremely difficult. Women who experience moderate-to-severe symptoms may feel a decreased quality of life and find these symptoms are interfering with their day-to-day activities.
By its medical definition, menopause is the point when a woman has gone at least one year (12 consecutive months) without the presence of a menstrual cycle. While the average age of menopause in the United States is around age 51, women can reach the menopause stage at varying times. For most women, the transition begins in their mid-40s to early 50s.
Some women may hover between the perimenopause and menopause stages for several years. They may experience changes in period frequency, but not experience a complete absence for 12 consecutive months. Remember, the transition between menopausal stages can occur over many years. This is not something women progress through instantly. Although there are some fortunate women who barely notice menopause symptoms.
After a woman has exceeded a full year without a menstrual cycle, she then transitions into the post-menopausal stage. This is a long-term stage that marks the end of the transition period. During this time, some women may begin to notice improvement or resolution of their menopausal symptoms. A woman will remain in post-menopause for the rest of her life.
While the worst of the menopause symptoms might be over for some women, other women experience lingering symptoms in postmenopause. You may find you have the same symptoms with less intensity. Some women continue to experience hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and other common symptoms during the postmenopause stage.
The post-menopause period still comes with its own set of possible problems. Women are at an increased risk for heart disease and osteoporosis during this time.
What You Need to Know
Experiencing something for the first time can leave you with unanswered questions. What is happening to my body? What do I do about it? Are these symptoms normal? Why are they occurring? If you’ve felt like this at any point throughout the three stages of menopause, you’re not alone.
Many women in the menopausal stages experience backlash from their doctors and healthcare professionals, which can make matters worse. Often, they feel their doctor is dismissing their symptoms. Or, maybe the doctor’s suggestions to manage your symptoms don’t seem to work.
Natural approaches (through dietary modifications and lifestyle changes) can go a long way in helping you to keep your menopausal symptoms at bay. A Primal eating plan can allow you the flexibility to enjoy wholesome, fresh foods while balancing your hormones. Furthermore, a Primal diet is a perfect diet for menopause, helping to fight against chronic diseases and keep you healthy as you age.
Menopause Isn’t Easy!
As a menopausal woman, I know first-hand that experiencing the hormonal changes associated with each of these stages is not easy. Many women, including myself, experience an array of uncomfortable symptoms associated with menopause. However, I’m here to tell you there is hope.
With simple lifestyle changes and modifications to your diet, you can make a big difference in supporting your overall health and eliminating those pesky menopause symptoms. Join our @menopausetheprimalway support on Instagram and Facebook to learn tips and tricks to help you navigate menopause gracefully.
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P.S. If you’re a woman who has wondered “what are the early stages of menopause?” you’re bound to benefit from more Menopause the Primal Way content. Read more blogs here.