What Is Menopause And When Does It Happen?

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Women go through a lot of different stages in their lives. As teenagers, we’ve all experienced the joy of a first period followed by realizing we’ve got another 40 years of that to go through. We wish it would end, and one day it does. When menstruation ceases, a woman enters menopause.

The term means that a woman’s menstrual cycle stops and that the natural hormone process that has allowed oocytes or eggs to age and is released for possible fertilization will no longer happen. This is the final stage in a woman’s reproductive life cycle, and it is something most women dread because of the abysmal symptoms that start to show as menopause approaches.


The first stage of menopause is unrelated to how early a woman gets her first period. The perimenopause period is a transitioning time that starts in a woman’s 30s. When her body starts having changes in her hormone levels that cause secondary changes in her body. While actual perimenopause only lasts 1-2 years a woman can enter the menopausal state any time from her 30s until her 60s since this differs from woman to woman. The signs of perimenopause may start as slightly irregular periods, extra moodiness around that time, and fatigue.

Actual Menopause

During menopause, a woman no longer experiences periods but will have many of the same symptoms such as moodiness, vaginal bleeding, hot flashes, and weight gain. The normal aging process for women means that it should occur sometime between 40-55. If it occurs before age 40, it is considered to be early menopause, and while this can be natural, it is more likely to be medically triggered by chemotherapy damage to the ovaries, or a hysterectomy.

In natural menopause the ovaries no longer release eggs, and the production of estrogen falls sharply and may even drop off completely. Most women will experience menopause at the same as that their mothers went through it.

Post Menopause

Most menopausal symptoms will eventually drop off within a couple of years. Women will have some changes after menopause, especially in the vaginal area which can become dry and the tissue delicate. In post-menopause women will no longer experience hot flashes and their moods will stabilize. This is usually gradual as with perimenopause.

Menopausal Symptoms Timing

While the age you start menopause is debatable when you get the symptoms associated with it tends to follow a standard timeline. Early menopause can happen for some reason, but the average age that women will experience is 51. This doesn’t mean the start of symptoms though. The average woman starts to experience symptoms of menopause approximately ten years before the event occurs. These are usually the first signs of menopause beginning.

First, you may put on some weight or find it harder to lose weight. You may find yourself bloated and hold water which can cause your ankles and legs to swell. However, bloating is also a normal symptom of your period which makes perimenopause so hard to pin down. The most noticeable body symptom is hot flashes or flushes, and these will start as soon as your estrogen levels begin to drop. Approximately 75% of women experiencing perimenopause get hot flushes which makes them the most common symptom, and they can occur at any time.

Cognitive Symptoms

Most women will experience emotional and mental symptoms, but they will get more pronounced as they get closer to menopause. The most noticed of these are memory problems, fatigue, and rapid mood swings. These can be very difficult to handle and are so common that most women know they are experiencing menopause when these happen.

While there is no cure for menopause (it simply has to be endured and will eventually be over), dealing with these mood issues and cognitive issues can be handled with the help of medications and coping methods.

Dealing With Post Menopause Symptoms

Once you’ve reached that magic 12-month mark, your symptoms will not simply vanish. Just as they gradually appeared, they will gradually subside, but some things will also change. These are not necessarily symptoms but changes that occur from the loss of estrogen production.

Many women start taking hormone replacements and supplements to alleviate the symptoms of menopause. Soy is a common dietary choice because some compounds found naturally in soy, mimic soy estrogen within the body, and will act as a substitute.

The rate at which the symptoms subside is different for each woman and can vary based on age, diet, and medications as well as the reason behind menopause. Unfortunately, all women have to go through this eventually.

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