Let’s start at the beginning – what is menopause? Well, really it’s just the end of those messy periods or end of ovulation and menstration ( as all the medical websites describe it ). It’s a natural phase of life that every woman is going to go through sooner or later ( hopefully later ) if she lives long enough. It’s not a disease – but it can be traumatic, with both physical and emotional aspects although some lucky women sail through with absolutely no signs or symptoms whatsoever. Their periods just stop and that’s it. Good for them. This website is for the rest of us who are not so lucky and have troublesome signs to deal with. For the rest of us, there are 3 distinct stages.
Perimenopause – is the first stage and normally begins several years before actual natural menopause happens. Can start at age 40 or even earlier but usually starts around age 45 or older. This is when the hormones start to change. I’ve heard and read it described a few different ways but they all sound a bit negative to me, like describing a disease. So I’ll liken it to a car changing gears – the car ( your body ) changed gears up when you hit adolesence and hormones got your body to change, you grew breasts and hair in places it had never grown before. Your face might have got pimples. Lots of changes happened, you might have been moody and confused – and you started having periods – yech! Well, now, the car ( your body ) is just changing gears again, back down ( but not back to first gear – darn it ). To me this is the worst stage because you have both periods and hot flushes and all the rest.
Menopause – also known as ” the change of life”, is the second stage and the actual stopping of menstration ( periods). Whew! At last. Menopause is considered to have happened after 12 months of no periods. Or happens right away if you have a hysterectomy ( womb removed ) or ovaries removed. Which kind of makes sense. Some cancer treatments will do it too. Happens naturally around ages 45 to 55, although it can be earlier of later than this. Things normally start to calm down after this, as the hormones settle down into their new, after periods, routine.
Post menopause – is the third stage of menopause and this is all the time after menopause. This is the rest of your life. No periods – and you don’t have to worry about birth control either – at last! Still need to be mindful of sexually transmitted diseases and practice safe sex, if you do not have a regular partner in a committed relationship. This can be a great time of your life, once these trying symptoms are over!