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Stages of Menopause

Stages of Menopause

Understanding the different stages of menopause can help you make sense of your journey and the road ahead. Maybe you want to know what to expect or if this emotional roller coaster is normal. More likely, you just want a better idea of when it’s going to end.

Even though it feels like you’re in a constant state of change, there really are three stages of menopause: perimenopause, menopause and post menopause. How will you know which stage you’re in? First, you’ll begin to notice a variety of menopause symptoms. By recognizing these symptoms and discussing the details—as well as your medical history—with your doctor, he’ll be able to determine where you are in the transition.

changes in hormone levelsDuring perimenopause, changing hormone levels can trigger any number of symptoms. As these levels go up and down, it’s not uncommon to experience weight gain, vaginal dryness, hot flashes and mood swings. And since women can still get pregnant during perimenopause, doctors typically suggest the continued use of birth control.

Menopause begins when a woman has gone a whole year without a period. Research shows that a very small percentage can get a period one to two years after this break.  These women may still be producing a little estrogen. However, bleeding or spotting can indicate other problems and should be checked out.

Post menopause follows menopause and continues the rest of your life. Your hormone levels have evened out and most of your menopausal symptoms have disappeared. However, postmenopausal women are also at an increased risk for several health conditions because of the decreased estrogen levels, including osteoporosis and heart disease. At this stage, you should exercise daily, get the proper nutrition and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

For many women, the years after menopause can be a very liberating time in their lives. But others might have mixed emotions. What lies ahead is entirely up to you.  This stage of menopause can open a window to self-discovery.