Menopause occurs when a woman approaches the end of fertility. This is when the menstrual cycle stops, and several changes occur in the female body. You are officially in menopause when your ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone and when you have not had a period for at least one year. This is a natural process and one that occurs with age. It can also be induced through surgical menopause or primary ovarian insufficiency.
At What Age Does Menopause Occur?
There is no guaranteed start date for menopause. It usually occurs around age 51. Some women can experience premature menopause that begins around age 40. Your starting age will depend heavily on your genes.
The Signs and Symptoms of Menopause
One of the first things you will notice is an irregular menstrual cycle. Once your period starts to get off-schedule, it should stop entirely within around four years. You may also notice other symptoms that include:
- Mood swings
- Hot flashes
- Decrease in sex drive
- Painful intercourse
- Elevated heartbeat
- Soreness or dryness in the vagina
- Difficulty sleeping
Understanding the Stages of Menopause
The full menopause process is divided into three stages. First, you will enter perimenopause. This is when your cycle becomes irregular, and you may begin to experience symptoms. You can still become pregnant. This usually happens when a woman is around 47 years old.
Next comes menopause. This is when your periods and fertility end. You may also notice additional symptoms appearing from the list shown above.
The last stage is postmenopause. This occurs approximately one year from your last period. This is the stage you will remain in for the rest of your life. There should be no vaginal bleeding after this point. If you notice bleeding, contact your gynecologist for an appointment.
Menopause doesn’t have to be a scary experience. Women’s Health and Menopause Center is here to help you understand the transition and work through each stage. Contact our offices today to schedule an appointment.