"Menopause" is often a catchall phrase used to refer to a wide time period of transition. In reality, there are multiple stages of menopause: premenopause, perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause.
Perimenopause, the first stage of the menopause transition, is the stage most commonly associated with menopause, due to its variety of different symptoms and its status as marking the beginning of the transition. This stage can last anywhere from 2 to 10 years, depending on the woman.
The Stages of Menopause
There are four key menopausal stages.These include :
Premenopause is the time after puberty, but before the menopause transition. Premenopause lasts from the ages of 12 or 13 to between 40 or 45.
Perimenopause is often mistakenly referred to as “menopause”. Perimenopause is the time before menopause, when symptoms begin to appear. During this time, between the ages of 45 and 55, periods become irregular, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels begin to decline, and symptoms manifest. These symptoms can include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Loss of libido
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
Menopause is the moment a woman stops menstruating. This is 12 months after your last period. This can occur any time between the ages of 50 and 55. It is impossible to get pregnant after this time.
Postmenopause is the time after the menopausal transition, when there are no more periods. Some symptoms may linger on due to permanently low estrogen levels; however, in the majority of cases, symptoms will fade and disappear
When Does Perimenopause End?
Perimenopause ends when menopause arrives. This is when periods have permanently stopped, and you have become infertile. It is usually considered a year after your last period, however, for some women it can be up to two year. In total, perimenopause can last between two and ten years, depending on the individual.
Many menopausal symptoms also end when your periods do, which can be another indicator that perimenopause is over. However, some symptoms, such as hot flashes, can continue into postmenopause, and well into old age.
If you are ever concerned about any aspect of your menopause transition, talk to your doctor. Read more information on various perimenopause symptom treatment.
- BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007.
- Hopkins, Virginia. Lee, John R. M.D. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. New York: Warner Books Inc., 1996.
- Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
- Martin, Raquel. The Estrogen Alternative. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2000.