A last period followed by a 12-month period of no menstrual cycles is menopause, but since many women experience irregular period bleeding leading up to the last period, it is sometimes hard to get an “exact” date for the start of menopause. Women can get menopause at any age between 40 to 58 years, with the average age being 51.
Perimenopause: It takes time for women to reach menopause, and during the period leading up to menopause, you may get sporadic periods due to fluctuating levels of the ovarian hormones – estrogen and progesterone.
The hormones slowly decrease in an uneven fashion until menopause occurs and this stage is called the perimenopausal phase. Although this is a transition phase, a woman can still bear child and the use of birth control is advised to avoid a pregnancy.
Signs of Menopause: It is common to have some physical changes because of menopause, only a very few women are fortunate enough to not have any symptoms except for a loss of menstrual bleeding.
Some of the more common menopause symptoms are as follows - vaginal dryness, loss of sex drive, erratic sleeping habits, mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats with or without a chill, trouble with memory, anxiety, facial hair growth, thinning hair, depression and mood swings. These are common symptoms reported by many women, but each woman will experience menopause differently.
Early menopause: If menopause starts around 30 years old then it is said to be early menopause. One major factor that can trigger early menopause is smoking which can make it as much as two years premature.
Other reasons could be chemotherapy or pelvic radiation for cancer, heart disease, inadequate nutrition, pelvic surgery and exposure to poisonous chemicals. If a woman never had a baby or has been treated for epilepsy this could also in turn bring about early menopause. Early menopause can also occur due to surgical intervention such as with a hysterectomy.
In the postmenopausal stage woman are vulnerable to certain health concerns such as heart diseases and the possibility of their bones becoming weaker due to a loss of bone density which is called osteoporosis. These conditions can be treated medically, they are not a source of major concern, but rather something all women need to be aware of and discuss with their doctors.
It is important that you know all about menopause so that you can handle it well when the time comes. Read as much about it as possible. You will find that taking care of your health by exercising, reducing your stress and eating well will help reduce your menopause symptoms. Make it a practice to take better care of yourself during this phase of life and you will be rewarded with a better overall outlook during menopause.