The Menopause Mystery: What are the 3 Stages of Menopause

What are the 3 stages of menopause

Menopause. It’s a word that conjures up images of hot flashes and sudden mood swings, but there’s so much more to this inevitable life transition! Let’s break down what the 3 stages of menopause are – perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause – into bite-sized pieces to help you navigate this new chapter.

Think of perimenopause as the warm-up act before the main show. It can begin anywhere from 8 to 10 years (sometimes up to as much as 14) before menopause. It is all about your body’s gradual shift in hormone production. Estrogen and progesterone start reducing which can lead to some interesting changes:

  • Irregular Periods: This is usually when changes begin in your regular menstrual cycle. Periods may become lighter, heavier, or skip a beat altogether. It’s a normal part of the transition. They do not need to have stopped to be classed as perimenopausal (see stage 2). Many GPs are still woefully misinformed and struggle to recognise what the 3 stages of menopause are.
  • Hot flashes and night sweats: Feeling like you’ve suddenly become a human furnace? You’re not alone! Hot flashes are a common symptom, often accompanied by night sweats that can disrupt your sleep. HRT can usually help this symptom quickly.
  • Mood swings: Ever feel like you’re on a rollercoaster of emotions? Fluctuating hormones can cause irritability, anxiety, and even some brain fog. Don’t worry, these symptoms can hopefully be managed with HRT and healthy lifestyle choices.

Despite this being the main event, it is all over in one day! Menopause is officially declared on the day when you haven’t had a period for a full 12 months. Here’s what you can expect:

  • No more periods (yay!): One less thing to worry about!
  • Reduced risk of pregnancy: Although you will be advised not to take the combined pill from the age of 50. It is advised not to stop using contraception till the age of 55, as getting pregnant naturally after this is very rare.
  • Symptoms may stabilise: Hot flashes and mood swings might decrease or even disappear for some women.

Postmenopause is the longest stage, lasting for the rest of your life. While the hormonal shifts have settled, some women might still experience occasional hot flashes or vaginal dryness. However, this stage is also a fantastic opportunity to focus on your overall health and well-being.

  • Increased focus on health: This is a great time to prioritise healthy habits like a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management.
  • Embrace a new chapter: Menopause is not the end, but a new beginning. Focus on self-care, explore new interests, and celebrate this exciting chapter in your life!

Remember, every woman’s journey through menopause is unique. Some women can enter menopause early (when periods stop before the age of 45). Or have surgical menopause (when medical treatments, like chemotherapy or surgery, cause a person’s ovaries to stop functioning).

Don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor if you have any concerns or questions. With a little knowledge and support, you can embrace the 3 stages of menopause. And not feel so alone during what can sometimes be a difficult time of your life!

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