menopause, perimenopause, post menopause, signs and symptoms, stages of menopausal symptoms, when does menopause start, gynecology, women's health, northwest arkansasAre you headed for menopause? Keep reading to learn the stages and signs menopause is starting.

Stages and Signs Menopause is Starting

Just as puberty is marked as the start of your first period, menopause is the milestone of your last period. The time frame is measured as 12 months from your last period, and the “change of life” usually has three parts or stages: perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause.

Perimenopause

Changes start with perimenopause, often referred to as the menopausal transitional period, and differ in intensity and duration for each woman.

You might notice things happening in your body up to ten years before you have your last menstrual period.

Signs you might experience include:

  • Irregular cycles, such as longer or shorter periods
  • Hot flashes, a sudden sensation of heat. If you experience them at night, they are called night sweats.
  • Your vagina might get drier, which can cause sex to be painful
  • And some women experience incontinence.

Menopause

After a full year without a period, you can say you have been through menopause. You might feel stressed and irritable during menopause.

Your body can change. Experts don’t know why. But you may

  • Gain weight
  • Lose muscle
  • Experience memory problems
  • And have stiff joints and muscles

Postmenopause

After menopause, postmenopause lasts the rest of your life. During this stage, you may find your feelings about sex change. You could be less interested, or you may feel sexier and have an increased libido, possibly because there’s no chance of pregnancy. In addition, during postmenopause, you may have difficulty sleeping or find you need less sleep.

When Does Menopause Start?

As a rough “rule of thumb,” women tend to undergo menopause at an age similar to their mothers. On average, women reach menopause between 45 and 55, but menopause may occur as early as the 30s or may not occur until a woman reaches her 60s. Many women start menopause at age 51.

Some surgical operations can lead to early menopause. These procedures include a hysterectomy, which removes the uterus, or oophorectomy, which removes both ovaries. In these situations, menopause symptoms can start right away, no matter the age. Smoking can also lead to early menopause.

Life After Menopause

After menopause, maintaining wellness should involve some lifestyle changes. If you smoke, stop. Eat a diet low in fat and high in fiber. Add weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, dancing, lifting light weights, at least three days a week. Ensure you get enough calcium, as women after menopause is more vulnerable to osteoporosis.

Are you experiencing the signs menopause is starting or in one of the other stages and have questions or concerns? Contact the friendly staff at Creekside Center for Women to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians. 479.582.9268