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The 3 phases of menopause

Just as you go through hormonal changes during puberty, there is a similar transition as you move through the end of your reproductive years. This change may move quickly, or can last as long as up to 14 years.

While the length of time may vary it is useful to understand where you are in the process. There are 3 phases of menopause which include pre-menopause, perimenopause, and menopause.

Phase 1: Pre-menopause

The earliest stage of the menopausal transition, known as pre-menopause, often begins in your late 30s or early 40s. During this phase you are still ovulating and having regular menstrual cycles. However, as estrogen and progesterone levels begin to vary, the menstrual cycle may shift, resulting in greater or lighter bleeding or shorter or longer periods.

Pre-menopause symptoms might vary from woman to woman but can include:

  • Vaginal dryness

  • Changes in sex drive

  • Mood swings

  • Irritability

  • Problems sleeping

  • Hot flashes

These signs and symptoms, which are brought on by changes in hormone levels, might appear years before menopause really starts.

Phase 2: Perimenopause

The second stage of the menopausal transition is know as perimenopause. It often begins in your late 40s or early 50s. While in this stage you may skip periods, have longer or shorter cycles, or experience other irregularities with your cycles. Before menopause officially starts, perimenopause can linger for many years.

Although they might be more severe, perimenopause symptoms are comparable to pre-menopause. The frequency and severity of hot flashes, nocturnal sweats, and mood swings may increase. During perimenopause, vaginal dryness and reduced libido may also be more noticeable.

Phase 3: Menopause

The official change into menopause is when you go a full 12 months without a monthly cycle. Menopause can come sooner or later, but it normally happens between the ages of 45 and 55. Menopause signals the end of your reproductive years and is a normal component of aging.

Menopause symptoms are comparable to perimenopause symptoms, albeit they may not be as severe. The frequency and intensity of hot flashes and night sweats may decrease, and vaginal dryness may become better. Some women, nevertheless, might continue to have symptoms for years following menopause.

There are lifestyle adjustments and medications that can help reduce menopause symptoms. Some of these include

  • Consuming a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and veggies.

  • Regular exercise that can enhance general health and lessen signs like hot flashes and mood swings.

  • Using hormone replacement treatment (HRT) to address severe symptoms.

  • Applying lubricants and moisturizers in the vaginal area to treat dryness.

  • Getting adequate sleep to improve mood, energy, and general health.

By understanding the phases of menopause and working with your healthcare provider to manage symptoms, you can navigate this transition with greater ease and continue to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling life.

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