The Four Stages of Menopause

Author:
Pin It

symptoms of menopause

Menopause is a very difficult adjustment for most women, as it encompasses a variety of changes to your mood, body and sex life.

By understanding what symptoms to expect and what these mean for your journey through menopause, you can better understand how to treat these conditions and avoid some of the more painful and debilitating side effects.

By treating a hormonal deficiency with a physician-guided hormone therapy plan, you can combat the many negative side effects that result from the hormone imbalance the condition causes.

Menopause marks a big transition in a woman’s life, going from being fertile and experiencing regular menstrual cycles to not experiencing these events anymore.

The average age of menopause onset in the US is age 51, and women can begin to experience symptoms in their late 30’s and early 40’s. Menopause is a natural event but can result in some very disruptive side effects that can interrupt a healthy sleeping pattern, make it more difficult to focus and reduce your confidence and libido.

Menopause comes with emotional effects as well as physical effects that can make any women struggle to maintain a balanced lifestyle. Luckily, HealthGAINS offers women a safe and natural way to combat the effects of aging and the hormonal side effects that result.

What Is Menopause?

Menopause occurs in most women between the ages of 35-55 and results in the ovaries shrinking and losing the ability to produce certain hormones in the body. These hormones mainly include estrogen and progesterone, two hormones that have various effects on skin health, sexual health and mood.

Women’s natural hormone levels begin to drop around the age of 35, and the symptoms may appear to be very slight at first but will be noticeable as a decrease in energy, skin health, libido or positive mood.

As your body prepares for menopause, it loses critical maintenance hormones estrogen and progesterone.

Estrogen and Progesterone

A harmonious balance between these two hormones is required to keep a woman feeling happy and confident. Estrogen and progesterone are both steroid hormones, acting as chemical messengers between various organs, tissues and certain cell types. These messages differ for each body organ and system, depending on the physiologic demand at the time. Estrogen causes the uterus to grow and replace the lining that is shed during the previous cycle. It also plays a critical role in the metabolism of bones, helping to determine the rate of destruction versus creation of bone tissue.

Progesterone is produced in the ovaries after ovulation is completed. It instructs the uterine lining to stop growing so that it might develop and mature in preparation for a possible pregnancy. If there is no pregnancy, progesterone decreases and signals the beginning of a new menstrual cycle.

Progesterone decreases the response rate to estrogen by decreasing the number of receptors an organ has for estrogen. Receptors are neural cells that recognize specific hormones and allow them to carry out their specific functions.

Progesterone also decreases breast cell growth, as it is involved in the maturation of breast cells and decreases the rate of tissue growth in the breasts. Progesterone also promotes normal cell death in the breast which is important in the prevention of cancer. In addition, while estrogen decreases the rate of bone breakdown, progesterone stimulates bone osteoblasts. These factors illustrate the need for these two hormones to be balanced relative to your body’s unique makeup.

Menopause comes in four stages once initial symptoms set on, and these steps include:

Perimenopause

Better known as pre-menopause, perimenopause occurs about 3-5 weeks prior to the onset of menopause and the loss of fertilization. The symptoms of perimenopause include:

  • PerimenopauseHot flashes
  • Sleep disturbances/insomnia
  • Night sweats
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Mood changes: irritability, depression or anxiety
  • Vaginal dryness or discomfort during sexual intercourse
  • Urinary issues

Although unlikely, getting pregnant during perimenopause is possible but not recommended due to the declining hormonal health and birth conditions that come naturally with age.

Early Menopause

Early menopause includes the first few months after the initial onset. This stage begins once fertilization is no longer possible, eggs become depleted and hormone levels begin to decline.

Menopause

Women are considered to be in menopause after the production of hormones has begun to decline. This can vary, making it important to begin to have checkups for your hormone levels to better identify this timeline. The transition from perimenopause into menopause can take up to a year and range in symptom severity. It’s important to remember every woman is unique and will experience menopause differently.

Some women experience few symptoms, and for those who do, these can vary widely. These can include hot flashes, changes in mood, fatigue, loss of sex drive and more.

Postmenopause

Postmenopause starts after one year has passed since your last menstrual cycle. Other symptoms that might have started in perimenopause can continue through menopause and postmenopause. It’s not unusual to experience:

  • PostmenopauseHot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Sleep disturbances/insomnia
  • Mood changes: irritability, depression or anxiety
  • Urinary issues
  • Vaginal dryness, which can lead to discomfort during sexual intercourse

Due to the decrease in estrogen, there’s an increased risk of heart disease and various bone-related conditions.

When you understand the process of menopause, it becomes clear that professional and personalized monitoring of hormone levels in a timely manner can help to identify when hormone therapies become needed, and also when menopause may be getting closer.

Contact us today and stay in control of your body.