After a woman has not had a period for 12 months, they are thought to be in menopause. The average age for woman in the US to reach menopause is 51, with a normal range of 45 to 55 years old. While some may think menopause happens suddenly, it is actually a process that may persist for several years and usually consists of three stages.
The stages of Menopause
Perimenopause: or “pre-menopause” is the period of time before menopause when hormones begin to fluctuate and decline and changes to your menstrual periods begin (usually becoming less frequent). This usually begins in a woman's 40’s and can last up to 3-10 yeas before menopause.
Menopause is the period of time when a woman has not had a menstrual cycle in 12 months.
Post-menopause is the period of time right after it has been a full year without a menstrual cycle and can last for some women into their 60’s. Many women may still experience symptoms during this time or develop new ones like vaginal dryness and discomfort with sex.
What are the most common symptoms of menopause?
The most common symptoms are hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, menstrual cycle changes (irregular, lighter or heavier), weight changes, hair and skin changes, memory issues (brain fog), sleep problems, fatigue, decreased libido, vaginal dryness and discomfort with sex.
How can menopause be diagnosed?
Most women over 50 do not need laboratory tests to confirm that they are going through menopause, especially if they have not had their menstrual cycle for over 12 months and experience symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats or vaginal dryness.
What can be done to treat menopause?
Menopause is a normal transition in a woman's life and there are a number of things you can do to help manage your symptoms if they are mild, like lifestyle and diet changes. However, if your symptoms are severe or bothersome, there are many safe and effective treatment options that help control the symptoms of menopause, including non-hormonal and hormonal medications.