Women can begin to experience symptoms of Menopause as early as 40 years old. Symptoms may vary with each stage of life for 40s, 50s and 60s +.
What is Menopause?
Most women think of menopause as the time of life when their menstrual periods end. This usually occurs during middle age, when women are also experiencing other hormonal and physical changes. For this reason, menopause is sometimes called the “change of life.”
A woman is said to be in menopause after she has gone for one full year without periods. While most women in the United States go through menopause around the age of 51, a small number will experience menopause as early as age 40 or as late as their late 50s. Rarely, menopause occurs after age 60. When menopause is diagnosed before age 40, it is considered to be abnormal or premature menopause.
In women, the ovaries produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone control a woman’s periods and other processes in her body. As a woman approaches menopause, her ovaries gradually makes less and less of these hormones.
For most women, menopause is a normal process of aging. If a woman has had her ovaries removed by surgery or has had damage to her ovaries for other reasons, such as radiation therapy, she may become menopausal from that process.
Perimenopause, also known as the climacteric, includes the time before menopause when hormonal and biological changes and physical symptoms begin to occur. This period lasts for an average of three to five years.
There are Three Stages of Menopause
Perimenopause, Menopause and Postmenopause
Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause. It describes a time when hormones start to decline and menstrual cycles become erratic and irregular. You may start to experience side effects of menopause, like hot flashes or vaginal dryness.
Menopause occurs when you’ve stopped producing the hormones that cause your menstrual period and have gone without a period for 12 months in a row. Once this has occurred, you enter postmenopause.
Postmenopause is the time after menopause has occurred. Once this happens, you're in postmenopause for the rest of your life. People in postmenopause are at an increased risk for certain health conditions like osteoporosis and heart disease.