Menopause is a normal process of aging and marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. When there are no periods for one year, then the woman enters menopause. Average age of menopause is between late 40s and early 50s. It is the process in which woman ceases to be fertile or menstruate. It is not a disease or a condition. Perimenopause, menopause and post menopause are the three stages of woman’s reproductive life. Perimenopause is the first stage in this process and starts 3-5 years before menopause. Postmenopause is the stage after menopause.
Ovaries are the reproductive glands that store eggs and release them into the fallopian tube. They also produce hormones such as oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Oestrogen and progesterone control the menstrual cycle. Oestrogen also influences calcium and maintains cholesterol. As menopause reaches, ovaries no longer release eggs. Perimenopause begins when production of oestrogen and progesterone from ovaries declines.
In late 30s, hormones level start decreasing and fertility of women also decreases before the onset of perimenopause. With time, ovaries shut down the normal production and menses will stop completely now. If hormone production ceases before the age of 40, it is premature menopause.
It is a transitional phase in the process of menopause. It can begin 3-5 years before the onset of actual menopause when the ovaries gradually produce less levels of oestrogen. It normally starts in late 40s but can start in 30s as well and perimenopause lasts until menopause, the point where the ovaries stop releasing eggs and hormones. In the last one to two years, production of oestrogen decreases considerably. At this stage, women experience menopausal symptoms. Women can experience menstruation at this stage and can get pregnant also.Some women may have symptoms for few months only. The average length of perimenopause is four years.
These are the years after menopause in which there are multiple symptoms. Hot flushes can ease in some women, but there is an increased risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. Medications such as hormone therapy or healthy life style can reduce the risk of some of these conditions.