How Will I Know I’m in Menopause?

Menopause, perimenopause and post menopause are stages in a woman’s life when her monthly period stops. This is the end of a woman’s reproductive years. Perimenopause is the first stage in this process and can start eight to 10 years before menopause. Menopause is the point when a woman no longer has menstrual periods for at least 12 months. Post menopause is the stage after menopause.

What Happens During Menopause?

Natural menopause isn’t caused by any type of medical or surgical treatment. It’s slow and has three stages:

  • Perimenopause. This phase usually begins several years before menopause, when your ovaries slowly make less estrogen. Perimenopause lasts until menopause, the point at which your ovaries stop releasing eggs. In the last 1 to 2 years of this stage, estrogen levels fall faster. Many women have menopause symptoms.
  • Menopause. This is when it’s been a year since you had a period. Your ovaries have stopped releasing eggs and making most of their estrogen.
  • Post menopause. These are the years after menopause. Menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes usually ease. But health risks related to the loss of estrogen increase as you get older.

First Point of Interest: Perimenopause

Ready, set, perimenopause. In this phase, your body will start providing helpful physical clues that the menopause process is starting. And it can still be years before your last menstrual period.

Some common, normal signs include irregular periods, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances, and mood swings — all results of unevenly changing levels of ovarian hormones (estrogen) in your body.

Pit Stop: Check your Contraception Options

Trip Tip: In perimenopause, there is still a slight chance you could become pregnant. So if you’d rather not go down that road, birth control is recommended until one year after your last period. Five effective options for midlife women include:

  • Birth control pills, patches, or rings — added benefits include regular cycles and decreased bleeding, hot flashes and ovarian/uterine cancer risk.
  • Progestin-alone pills, implants and injections — an option for those with a history of certain cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, blood clots, obesity, and smoking.
  • Intrauterine devices with or without hormones — safe, highly effective, convenient, and long-term.
  • Sterilization (Tubal ligation, fallopian tube inserts, or vasectomy for men) — low risk, effective, and permanent.
  • Barrier methods (condoms, diaphragm, spermicide) — condoms are the only method than provides some protection from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Things You Never Know About Menopause




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Taking the mystery out of Menopause

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