The onset and duration of menopause varies for every woman. You can navigate these biological changes with menopause treatments that ease your symptoms.
“When does menopause start?” It’s a question you have probably asked yourself as you mentally prepare for the eventual end of your reproductive cycle. You may have even asked your doctors, family members, and friends for their insight, hoping to be ready when the time comes. There’s no simple answer that will apply to every woman, but you can be more prepared by learning about the different stages related to menopause.
Menopause itself often happens in your early fifties, but some women may begin to experience symptoms as early as their twenties. As you keep track of current physical changes and try to learn more about what to expect, be aware that menopause actually describes three different biological stages.
Early Stages of Menopause
Menopause marks the end of fertility, but the body prepares for this milestone by undergoing many physical changes and hormonal cycles. This period is known as perimenopause, and it’s actually an early journey toward menopause, but every woman experiences it differently.
During this stage, your body begins to transition toward infertility, and your ovaries prepares to stop producing estrogen and progesterone. This may cause a variety of physical and psychological symptoms, which help tell your doctors about your particular hormonal fluctuations. Though many women assume that perimenopause is a gradual decline in hormone levels, this is actually a stage of fluctuating cycles, with both increases and decrease in hormone production. Perimenopause symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, irregular periods, vaginal dryness, and mood changes. This stage may last as long as a decade, or end in less than two years. Like the severity of the symptoms, the duration completely depends on your body.
Symptoms of Menopause
If your perimenopause is characterized by hot flashes and mood swings, then how long does menopause last? Technically, menopause is the 12 months after you experience your last menstrual period. But because perimenopause is often characterized by irregular periods, it may be difficult at first to determine whether menopause has taken place.
Of course, your gyecologist understands that menopause misconceptions are common. They may discuss “being in menopause” or “going through menopause” with you, because this is a general way to refer to the cycles and changes that occur as your body prepares to stop menstruating. However, even after menopause itself occurs, you may still experience symptoms and seek menopause treatment for relief. Your doctor can provide you with a custom menopause treatment plan that works your body’s unique timeline and symptoms.
Adjusting to Menopause
Unfortunately, menopause does not always bring an abrupt end to your symptoms. The stage after menopause is known as postmenopause, and it characterizes your body’s adjustment to its new reality. Though your ovaries have spent years preparing for this, the rest of your body must now adjust to the absence of reproductive hormones.
Your health needs will change during postmenopause. It’s important to discuss this stage with your doctor, and make sure your nutritional and lifestyle choices are right for your body’s new needs. Postmenopause symptoms may include less intense versions of the symptoms you experienced during perimenopause.
If you are beginning to experience the early signs of menopause and would like to know more about menopause treatment in Little Rock, contact The Woman’s Clinic at (501) 664-4131 to schedule an appointment and learn about your options.