Are You in the Menopause Transition?

 

 

 

Women often wonder how to know if they are in the menopause transition, the time between reproductive and post-reproductive life. The best way to know is to listen to your body. Most women experience physical changes during the menopause transition, with the most common symptom being hot flashes. Some have mild symptoms that can be easily ignored, while others’ symptoms are more troublesome and interfere with their daily activities. 

 

The menopause transition is roughly divided into two phases. The early transition is when a woman starts to experience mild symptoms of menopause and she intermittently skips a period. If a period is skipped for 60 days or longer, she has most likely entered the late stage of menopause. By this time, she has substantial evidence of estrogen deficiency with more pronounced symptoms. She might revert to intermittent ovulation, creating windows of fertility until the final menstrual period.

 

 

 

 

Entering the early postmenopausal stage is determined retrospectively, when 12 months have passed since the last period. In this stage, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels rise and estrogen continues to fall. These hormones stabilize approximately 2 years after the final menstrual period. Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 49 and 51, and 90% will have transitioned by age 54.

 

Women with a higher body mass index > 30 kg/m2 often experience a later onset of the menopause transition, but there is no change in how long the transition lasts. African American women tend to have a longer duration of the menopause transition than White women. The median duration of the menopause transition is 4 years. Symptoms are most prevalent and severe during the first 1-2 years after the final menstrual period. 

 

 

 

 

Understanding the phases of the menopause transition help women better understand the changes that occur during reproductive aging. Paying attention to changes in the body can guide a woman in predicting if she is in the menopause transition. She can then discuss any symptoms with her provider and learn about treatment options such as hormonal and non-hormonal medications in addition to non-pharmacologic therapies. The disruptive process of the body transitioning to menopause can last for over a decade. Proper attention during the menopause transition can significantly improve a woman’s daily functioning.

 

 


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body image and menopause, estrogen, health education, hormone health, hormone therapy, menstrual cycle, perimenopause, post menopause, women's health


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