An understanding of menopause, both what it means and what to expect, is critical to help women during this new phase of their life. It is also helpful for men to understand menopause, allowing them to know what women are going through and how to help if needed.
Menopause, whether you like it or not, is mandatory. It is nature’s way of relieving a woman of her childbearing responsibility, granting her rest. As a woman, you can choose to enjoy this phase of life and all it has to offer. Learning as much as you can about the process helps enjoy it more.
Menopause: A Clinical View
Most people view menopause as the permanent ending of menstruation occurring between the ages of 45 and 55.
The clinical view, however, defines menopause as one day: the day when 12 months have passed since your last period.
The time surrounding menopause, including both the transitional years before a woman’s final period and the years after menopause, is termed perimenopause. Therefore, when women say they are “going through menopause” they actually mean they are going through perimenopause.
Perimenopause can be broken into two stages:
At What Age Do Women Typically Enter Perimenopause?
The majority of women enter into perimenopause between the ages of 45-55 years old. The average age to enter menopause is 51. This age varies, and some women as young as 34 and as old as 64 years have entered perimenopause. Cases such as these, however, are rare, and therefore when we refer to perimenopause in this series we are referring to the 45-55 year age range.
How Do I Know If I’m In Perimenopause?
If you are 40 years or older and are experiencing differences in your usual menstruation patterns, it’s likely that you have entered perimenopause. Other accompanying symptoms, such as night sweats or hot flashes, may indicate perimenopause.
Many women believe that mood wings alone are an indicator of perimenopause. Mood swings are not a reliable factor, however, as they can be caused by many different things.
Can I Delay Perimenopause?
No, you cannot delay the onset of perimenopause. However, there’s no need to want to delay it. Menopause is as natural as the onset of menstruation. The only thing you need to do is take care of yourself through the process.
Embrace menopause as a natural part of your life, and enjoy it!
Our next article will cover premenopause.
In this 5-part series, we cover all stages of menopause and discuss symptoms, treatment, and what to expect.