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    Menopause Symptoms and Stages: What Does Your Body Go Through?

    Menopause Symptoms and Stages: What Does Your Body Go Through?
    Updated 23 April 2020 |
    Published 07 September 2018
    Fact Checked
    Dr. Anna Klepchukova
    Reviewed by Dr. Anna Klepchukova, Intensive care medicine specialist, chief medical officer, Flo Health Inc., UK
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    A woman’s life consists of one-of-a-kind stages and events, menopause being one of them. Let’s dive into the changes a female body goes through during this special life milestone.

    What is menopause?

    As the body gets older, certain physiological changes take place, leading to the gradual extinction of reproductive and menstrual functions.

    This process can take several years (the so-called premenopause), then the menstrual cycle stops completely and menopause occurs.

    Remember that this is not a disease, but a life milestone, which means the end of your childbearing age.

    Take advantage of this new phase. Fill your mind with positive thoughts, explore what brings you pleasure and joy, and rediscover your body without looking back.

    What is the menopause age?

    Every woman is unique and has her own individual physique, health, physiology, and lifestyle features, which is why the menopause age onset varies from woman to woman.

    Menopause is said to have arrived only if periods have been absent for 12 consecutive months.

    If periods occur during the year, you should start counting anew.

    Menstruation can stop on its own or as result of ovarian surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, etc.

    Menopause Age

    Menopause stages

    There are several stages of menopause:

    • perimenopause, which includes transition phase prior to menopause (about 5 years) and one year after the last period.
    • menopause, when menstruation is absent for a year after a woman gets her last period (around age 50)
    • postmenopause, which lasts the whole life after the last menstruation after the last menstruation

    Early menopause describes menopause occurring in women aged 40 to 45 years. Premature menopause can be used to refer to definitive cases of menopause before age 40, such as with the surgical removal of both ovaries.

    Menopause occurs earlier in case of previous ovarian surgeries, chemotherapy, or autoimmune diseases. It may take place later in women who have given birth multiple times.

    Menopause symptoms

    Menopause is not a disease, but a natural process with its own specific symptoms.

    As soon as the menstrual cycle goes beyond its usual schedule, some women may experience such signs of menopause as mood swings, low libido, excessive sweating, palpitations, headaches, chills, and sleep problems.

    Many start feeling discomfort during sex, including genital itching and burning due to the dryness and thinning of the vaginal mucosa.

    Menopause can cause such problems as weight gain and metabolic slowdown, and sometimes be accompanied by cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis.

    There may also be urination problems; for example, incontinence when coughing, laughing or lifting heavy objects. Kegel exercises can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.

    Proper nutrition, exercise, and attention to your body will help you stay healthy longer.

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    Menstruation changes are the main perimenopause symptoms

    Menstruation changes are the first signs of perimenopause.

    Changes in the length of your period (either increasing or decreasing) and menstrual bleeding become more abundant and irregular. Periods may occur once in 2–3 weeks or be absent for several months in a row until they disappear completely.

    This phase is unique for every woman and may require a doctor’s supervision.

    This is particularly important if the interval between periods is less than 2 weeks, there is severe bleeding (menstrual hygiene products require changing every 1–2 hours), or if menstruation lasts for more than a week.

    Contrary to popular belief, menopause is not a bad thing, not a disease by any means. It’s merely another peculiar stage in a woman’s life. The more we appreciate this menopause meaning, the better

    Frequently asked questions on menopause

    What is the average age a woman stops menstruating?

    The average age of menopause among US women is 51. Most women stop menstruation completely around 4 years after their periods become irregular. Certain factors can increase your risk of early menopause, such as genetics, smoking, type 1 diabetes, a family history of early menopause, and shorter cycles during your youth.

    How do I know if I’m going through menopause?

    Menopause is defined by 12 months of amenorrhea after the final menstrual period in the absence of any other pathological or physiological causes.

    One of the first symptoms that you’re approaching menopause is an irregularity in your menstrual cycles. Other symptoms of menopause include headaches, hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, decreased concentration, decreased libido, vaginal dryness, irritability, amongst others. Some women experience these symptoms 1 to 5 years before menopause, but there’s no way to predict when menopause will occur.

    How do you confirm menopause?

    There isn’t a specific test to confirm when menopause will happen. Doctors officially diagnose menopause once a woman hasn’t had a period for 12 consecutive months. Your doctor can order tests to determine FSH and estrogen levels. Your vaginal pH becomes less acid during menopause, which can be confirmed through a vaginal swab. 

    How can I stop early menopause?

    Early menopause occurs when a woman stops having her period before she’s 45 years old. Although early menopause can’t be stopped completely, contraceptive pills or hormone replacement therapy can help your body cope with the premature loss of its reproductive function. Vitamin D and calcium supplements can also be prescribed to cope with the premature decrease in reproductive hormones.

    What is the best natural remedy for menopause symptoms?

    There are some things you can do to improve menopausal symptoms. Achieving a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and eating foods rich in vitamin D and calcium can help. Foods with a high phytoestrogen content, like soybeans, tofu, flaxseed, linseed, and beans, can also reduce symptoms such as hot flashes. Avoid foods that trigger your symptoms, as well.

    Can you get pregnant after menopause?

    After menopause, your body is no longer ovulating. This means that natural pregnancy is no longer a possibility. However, your body can still maintain a pregnancy using a donor egg or your own frozen eggs. If you want to go through IVF after menopause, you’d also need to take hormone therapy to prepare your body for pregnancy.

    Is joint pain a symptom of menopause?

    Joint pain affects many menopausal women. This pain can also be accompanied by stiffness and swelling of the affected joints. This happens because menopause lowers your levels of estrogen, which acts as an anti-inflammatory substance and helps maintain bone health. Osteoarthritis tends to affect high-impact joints like hips and knees, but it can affect any joint.

    What helps with menopausal arthritis?

    Hormonal imbalances make it more likely for menopausal women to develop osteoarthritis. You can perform low-impact exercises (like yoga or swimming), maintain a healthy weight, and eat vitamin D and calcium-rich foods to improve your symptoms. Your doctor could prescribe NSAID medications or refer you to a physical therapy specialist, too.

    Can a blood test detect menopause?

    There isn't really one specific test that can be used to diagnose menopause. However, your doctor can run blood tests to determine your hormone levels. Your doctor can also order thyroid hormone blood tests since thyroid imbalances can cause symptoms that can mimic those caused by menopause. 

    How do you lose weight during menopause?

    Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most effective ways to improve symptoms of menopause. Try low-impact exercises that don't hurt your joints, eat lean protein, drink plenty of water, and get enough sleep. Although it's tempting, restricting your caloric intake too severely can lead to muscle loss and a decrease in metabolic rate. 

    History of updates
    Current version (23 April 2020)
    Reviewed by Dr. Anna Klepchukova, Intensive care medicine specialist, chief medical officer, Flo Health Inc., UK
    07 September 2018
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