Menopause is a journey with no clear-cut starting and end points. Prior to the onset of the menopause i.e. perimenopausal period, the body will start providing helpful physical clues that the menopause process is starting. But it can be still years before your last menstrual period. Some common signs are irregular periods, hot flushes, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances and mood swings. It all results from changing levels of ovarian hormones (especially estrogen) in your body.
Birth control is still recommended until one year of your last period as there is slight chance that you could become pregnant.
Natural menopause is spontaneous for the permanent ending of menstruation that is not caused by any medical treatment. It is defined as the final menstrual period and is confirmed when a woman has not had her periods for twelve consecutive months.
Women most likely experience menopause between ages of 48-50 years. Typically, women reach menopause around the same age as their mothers and sisters. It can be early in case of smokers.
Premature menopause is menopause that happens before the age of 40 years whether natural or induced.
Surgical menopause occurs when the ovaries have been surgically removed due to some underlying pathology.
Aspects of Menopause:
The duration and severity of these symptoms vary from woman to woman.
On an average, most symptoms can last for three to four years from the last period.
Menopausal symptoms like hot flushes occur in more than two third of women in perimenopause and almost all women with induced or premature menopause.
Night sweats refer to excessive sweating during the night and can accompany hot flushes. Insomnia (inability to sleep at night ) can make you feel tired and irritable during the day.
Other symptoms include recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), joint stiffness, aches and pains, emotional disturbances (feeling low/ anxiety), thinning hair and dry skin, loss of breast fullness, vaginal dryness and decreased sexual drive.
There is also increased the risk of osteoporosis(bone weakness) which can lead to fractures. One must have regular visits with your doctor for preventive health care and any medical conditions during and after menopause.