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Knowing the Different Stages of Menopause

Knowing the Different Stages of Menopause
August 04
15:26 2017

Knowing the Different Stages of Menopause

In the past, we’ve discussed:

How Early Can Menopause Begin?

Depression and Menopause

Chicken Pox + Age + Menopause + Cold Sores = Painful Shingles and Increased Risk of Heart Disease

As previously defined:

“Menopause is the time that marks the end of your menstrual cycles. It’s diagnosed after you’ve gone 12 months without a menstrual period. Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s, but the average age is 51 in the United States.”

“Menopause is a natural biological process. But the physical symptoms, such as hot flashes, and emotional symptoms of menopause may disrupt your sleep, lower your energy or affect emotional health. There are many effective treatments available, from lifestyle adjustments to hormone therapy.”

Depending upon the source one turns to, there are either three or four stages of menopause, but most of them list only three – perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause. The fourth stage, premenopause, is often confused with or lumped with perimenopause.

So, what’s the difference and why is it important?

Premenopause – (pre – meaning before) is defined as the time between a woman’s first and last menstrual cycles.

Perimenopause (peri – meaning surrounding or near) is defined as the time when a woman’s hormone levels begin to decrease in the time prior to the onset of menopause. Some physicians refer to perimenopause as ‘menopause transition’. Perimenopause can begin as early as 10-years before actual menopause but generally it happens 3-4 years prior the onset of menopause.

Menopause as defined above, is when the ovaries stop producing eggs and the levels of estrogen produced drop considerably. Average age of the onset of menopause is 51-years of age.

Postmenopause (post – meaning after) is the stage after menopause. Some of the symptoms of menopause may continue on into this stage. The drop in estrogen levels may be causing other health issues. If the symptoms are severe enough or too uncomfortable, there are treatments, which often include hormone replacement, but be warned that these hormone replacement treatments have side effects which could include renewed menstrual cycles and increased risk of some cancers, especially breast cancer. This stage lasts for the rest of a woman’s life.

The symptoms of each stage include:

Premenopause – This is the time of regular menstrual cycles and the time of fertility. The symptoms are often referred to as PMS. They include cramps, mood swings, nausea, anxiety, irritability, depression, bloating and tender breasts.

Perimenopause – Symptoms include drying and thinning of the skin, hair begins to thin, the proverbial hot flashes, insomnia, night sweats, sudden mood swings, feeling the urgent need to urinate, vaginal dryness, weight gain and trouble concentrating.

Suggested ways of dealing with the hot flashes include: avoiding things like spicy foods, hot beverages (coffee, tea, etc.) and warm climates. Drink cold liquids, use a fan at night, wear loose fitting clothing in layers that can be easily removed and try taking deep slow breaths.

Menopause – Many of the symptoms of perimenopause carry over into menopause, but as the hormone level continues to drop, the symptoms may become pronounced or intense. Vaginal dryness can make the use of a water-based lubricant necessary during sex. The lubricant is necessary to avoid damaging the dry tissue inside the vagina.

Postmenopause – Symptoms include no more menstrual cycles and possible loss of sex drive (libido) due to the decreased level of hormones. Lubricants during sex may be required as long as the woman remains sexually active.

Knowing the different stages and knowing your body can better equip a woman recognize when she is transitioning from one stage of menopause to the next. The more you know, the better you can deal with the changes and know what to talk to your doctor about.

 

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