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There are three stages of menopause that experts creatively (not) call perimenopause (the period before), menopause (during), and postmenopause (after). Perimenopause normally begins around the age of 40 when the ovaries produce less and less estrogen. It can last for around 10 years. And it’s the last couple of years of perimenopause that are associated with those pesky hot flashes, disturbed sleep, and other uncomfortable symptoms. A woman becomes postmenopausal when she has not had her period for a year.
There are 3 stages to menopause, including perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. Perimenopause usually begins when women are in their 40s. Menopause is when a woman has not had her monthly period for at least 12 months. Postmenopause can last for several years after menopause.
Here are the three stages of menopause:
Perimenopause begins about 6-8 years before you reach menopause. During this time the levels of hormones produced by your ovaries start to fluctuate leading to irregular menstrual patterns; such as, irregularity in the length of the period, the time between periods, and the level of flow. At this time you are ovulating on and off, so you could become pregnant. Other common perimenopause symptoms are: hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness, weight gain, fluctuations in sexual desire, fuzzy thinking, trouble sleeping, fatigue and depression.
You are officially in menopause when you haven't had a period for 12 consecutive months. At this point there are no more eggs left for your ovaries to release and pregnancy is impossible.
Post-menopause is the period of life after you have reached menopause.
There are really just two main stages, perimenopause (sometimes referred to as premenopause) and menopause. Perimenopause refers to the time before menopause when vasomotor symptoms and irregular menses often commence. Perimenopause can start 5-10 years or more before menopause. Menopause, by definition, begins 12 months after the final menses and is characterized by a continuation of vasomotor symptoms and by urogenital symptoms such as vaginal dryness and dyspareunia.
You might think of the changes a woman undergoes at midlife as a drama in three acts: perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause.
Perimenopause describes the time when a woman may begin to experience some of the symptoms that can occur with menopause, such as hot flashes. ("Peri" means "around" or "about.") Her ovaries are slowly shutting down production and periods may become less frequent. Perimenopause usually starts when a woman is in her 40s.
While the term menopause is usually used to describe the entire transitional midlife phase in a woman's life, it does not officially begin until very specific criteria are met: A woman is truly menopausal once she has gone one year without having a menstrual period. Technically speaking, that means a woman is postmenopausal for the rest of her days, which can be up to one third of her life.
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.