What are the stages of menopause?
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What are the stages of menopause?

Did you know there are actually three stages to menopause? Learn what you can expect from each stage.

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Published by Tracy McBeth, Journalist

3 mins read

Key Benefits

  • Understand the three stages of menopause
  • Learn what symptoms to expect

It’s incredible to think menopause, this major change of life, is just 1 day!

You heard right – 1 day. But it’s the YEARS leading up to this momentous moment (12 months to the day of your last period), where all the changes take place.

To cap it off, most of us will never even know when the day they experience menopause is. How unceremonious!

We often hear about menopause as one event, but there are 3 stages of menopause:

  1. Perimenopause
  2. Natural menopause
  3. Post menopause

Most women start to see symptoms of menopause (perimenopause) in their mid to late 40s. These pre menopause symptoms tend to last for about 4-6 years before natural menopause takes place (12 months after your period stops). After that you’re considered post-menopausal.

But like everyone's lady parts, everyone is different. It’s shorter for some and longer for others. Symptoms are intense for some and milder for others. Some unlucky ladies continue to battle symptoms for months or years after menopause.

What is perimenopause?

While the big M gets all the hype, perimenopause is the time where the real work is done.

As your body prepares to farewell Aunty Flow for good, your egg supply starts to run out and your ovaries are getting ready to retire.

This transition is huge. Your female hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) go completely out of whack as the body prepares to make less of them. As a result, your periods may be all over the shop: heavy and long, light or non-existent. Ovulation is also affected. You might not ovulate some months and twice other cycles.

And while the odds are low, it is still possible to fall pregnant in perimenopause. So, birth control is recommended until you’re officially post-menopausal.

Changes to your periods are often one of the first signs of perimenopause. So too are some significant symptoms including:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Aches and pains
  • Brain fog
  • Exhaustion
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Less frequent or unpredictable periods
  • Lower sex drive
  • Reduced muscle and bone mass
  • Thinning hair
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Weight gain
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Itchy or dry skin

It’s important to find a good GP who you can speak to openly about your symptoms. You don’t have to simply put up with it, there are plenty of products or treatment options out there these days.

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What is natural menopause?

Exactly 12 months since your last period, the ovaries have officially retired.

They’re no longer producing eggs and controlling your period. Aunty Flow has left the building.

It’s a major milestone is a woman’s life making the end of the baby making years. Most women tend to hit menopause between 45-55 but the average age in Australia is 51.

While there is a huge amount of build up to this milestone, many are oblivious to the official day which often passes without any fanfare.

What is postmenopause?

Goodbye menopause and hello to a period free life!

For most people, this is a time when symptoms settle or completely vanish altogether. That said, some women still have menopausal symptoms for a decade or so after. Brutal!

With an increased risk of osteoporosis and heart disease, it’s time to focus on a healthy lifestyle and consider medication.

But postmenopausal life can also be liberating.

With periods, babies and all those fluctuating hormones behind you, you may have more energy to focus on you.

Some women embrace a renewed sense of empowerment and self-esteem - a phenomenon dubbed ‘the postmenopausal zest’.

Perhaps after all those lemons – it’s the time to sit back and enjoy the lemonade.

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