Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s life. This is the time when menstrual periods stop permanently and women are no longer able to have children. Women transition to menopause through several stages, and its symptoms can be uncomfortable and difficult to predict.

Despite the wealth of information available regarding menopause, there are still plenty of misconceptions about it. Each woman’s experience is different, and there are several factors that affect a woman’s menopausal transition. March is Women’s Wellness Month, so it’s the perfect time to learn more about the telltale signs of menopause.

Identifying the Start of Perimenopause

Most women develop symptoms months or years before the onset of true menopause. This stage before menopause is called perimenopause. It is a gradual process that can start years before menopause, sometimes even up to ten years beforehand. This is the period when your hormones begin to change in preparation for menopause.

Perimenopause usually occurs around your mid-40s when your ovaries produce less estrogen. You’ll still be having menstrual periods, but you’ll notice changes in flow and regularity.

A lot of women also experience hot flashes. These sudden feelings of warmth usually occur in the upper body, especially the face, neck, and chest. Hot flashes are the most common telltale sign of menopause.

When Does True Menopause Start?

While most women mistake perimenopause for true menopause, it actually doesn’t start until one year after your last period. True menopause is the time when your ovaries stop the release of eggs and the production of estrogen. The median age of menopause in the U.S. is around 51 years old.

Menopause symptoms can be mild to severe and may include vaginal dryness, incontinence, mood swings, hair thinning or loss, weight gain, and reduced libido. Hot flashes can also happen more frequently, and night sweats (nighttime hot flashes) may occur, affecting the quality of your sleep.

These symptoms are caused by the significant fluctuation of reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH).

Signs of Postmenopause

Postmenopause occurs after true menopause. This is the period you will be in for the rest of your life. Hot flashes may ease up, but some women may still experience extreme bouts up to a decade after experiencing menopause.

Other menopausal symptoms may still linger, but they will most likely be less intense and won’t interfere with your daily life. If symptoms intensify, it’s best to talk to Dr. Ayim, since this can be a sign of an underlying health condition.

It’s important to remember that because women in postmenopause experience low levels of estrogen and other hormones, they are at an increased risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. There are a number of ways we can help to prevent these conditions.

Contact Us to Find Out More

Get in touch with Ayim Surgical Arts in Houston to find out whether your symptoms are part of your transition into menopause. Contact us and schedule a consultation to get more information about female reproductive health.