Menopause is something most women dread, despite being an entirely normal stage of life. Not much different from puberty in that it involves hormones changing at a certain age, menopause can come with symptoms like mood swings, fatigue, irritability, hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, hair loss, an aversion to spicy foods, and more. All women experience menopause differently, the same way pregnancies are different. However, there are some general rules about the three stages of menopause that most women will go through. If you’re not sure where you’re at in the menopause process, here are some things that might show you how this normal life change could be impacting you.
As early as your late thirties and early forties, you might begin to notice changes in your regular cycle, metabolism, or even experience your first hot flash. This is entirely normal and is one of the first signs that you’re in perimenopause. At first, after years of regular cycles and predictable symptoms, it might come as a shock to you when you can no longer predict your cycles. Changes in libido, night sweats, insomnia and other symptoms could even make you feel concerned that there’s something seriously wrong.
The first thing to do if you think you may be in perimenopause is to let your doctor know. Doctors can order hormone tests to verify that you’re in the first stages of this entirely natural life transition. They can help you manage your perimenopause symptoms, too. While it could be emotionally challenging to give up that dream of becoming an Instagram model or seeing yourself as done with your youth, it’s important to remind yourself that women of all ages are beautiful. If self-esteem is connected to or impacted by your discovery that you’re in perimenopause, consider calling a therapist who can help you adjust to the changes ahead.
It’s pretty typical for women to get more serious about determining if they’re in menopause or what stage they’re in when they begin to notice long absences of their periods. They search the web for blogs, vlogs, and stories of other women. They’ll take a perimenopause quiz and might even doubt that the menopause transition is really happening to them. The reality is, it likely is, and having a diagnosis from a doctor could not only give you peace of mind but tools to cope with difficult menopause symptoms.
If you aren’t ready to reach out to a doctor just yet, the general rule is that until you have missed a period for a full year, you are not done with menopause. In fact, irregular periods and other menopause symptoms generally last about four years. Once your period has stopped for a full year, you are through menopause and any vaginal bleeding is considered abnormal.
For most women, there’s some relief when they’ve made it through the ups and downs of the perimenopause and menopause stages. After a full year of no periods, they’ve likely begun to understand how to work with their body again. By using lubrication for vaginal dryness, hormone supplements for libido and more, some women say they feel great after getting past menopause. Again, everyone is different.
At the end of the day, most women will go through menopause during their middle-age years. It most typically begins around the age of 51. While some women will experience it earlier for medical reasons, or as a result of medications, the average woman could start to see perimenopause symptoms around the age of forty. If you believe you’re in menopause or seeing signs of it on the way, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor, other women, and support groups for support. If symptoms of menopause are making things difficult, there are options like hormone replacement therapies, supplements, easy tricks, and more that might be able to help you out. Don’t suffer in silence. Menopause is a stage you’ll get through the same way you did puberty and will likely be glad for it when it’s done.