When Does Perimenopause Start
Before you experience menopause, youll go through a transitional period, known as perimenopause. This phase can last for months or years, and usually starts when youre in your mid-to-late 40s. On average, most women experience perimenopause for about four years before their periods stop completely.
What Are The Symptoms Of Menopause
There are over 30 menopause symptoms, though some occur more frequently than others. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Irregular periods, which are one of the first indications that menopause has come
- Hot flashes, which happen when an estrogen deficiency deregulates hypothalamus functioning
- Night sweats, nocturnal hot flashes that can leave a woman in a sweat
- Weight gain that is caused by a slower metabolism and a redistribution of fat storage in the body
- Mood swings due to drastic estrogen fluctuations that negatively impact healthy serotonin levels
- Depression from major life stressors and hormonal imbalance
- Vaginal dryness, which is a loss of lubrication in the vagina that can make sex painful
Menopause Symptoms At Age 45
Around the age of 45 many women enter pre-menopause and start to notice the first signs that menopause is coming. For some women, the symptoms are mild and short-lasting. For others, menopause symptoms can be disruptive and long-lasting.
Some of the earliest signs of menopause may include:
Changes to your period
Period changes are usually the first signs of menopause. For example, your period may start to happen every six to eight weeks. Or you may miss a couple months before it comes back again. You may also have a heavier flow or a lighter flow from time to time.
That said, its important to know you can still get pregnant during perimenopause. So, continue to use birth control in the lead up to menopause as you normally would. Also, if youve missed your period and youre not sure whether perimenopause has started, consider taking a pregnancy test as a first step.
As your hormone levels change, you may find yourself more irritable, anxious, sad or forgetful than usual. Your sex drive can also decrease or increase.
These changes are very typical as your body approaches menopause. So, be kind to yourself, practice self-care and ask for help if youre having trouble.
You may find it difficult to get to sleep, or you may wake up in the middle of the night. Sleep trouble can contribute to a constant feeling of tiredness, which can make you moodier.
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How Is Early Menopause Treated Or Managed
Early menopause generally doesnt require treatment. However, there are treatment options available to help manage the symptoms of menopause or conditions related to it. They can help you deal with changes in your body or lifestyle more easily.
Premature menopause, however, is often treated since it occurs at such an early age. This helps support your body with the hormones that would normally be made until you reach the age of natural menopause.
The most common treatment includes hormone replacement therapy . Systemic hormone therapy can prevent many common menopausal symptoms. Or you may take vaginal hormone products, usually in low doses, to help with vaginal symptoms.
HRT does have risks though. It can increase your chances of heart disease, stroke, or breast cancer.
Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits to your individual care before starting HRT. Lower doses of hormones may decrease your risk.
Menopause When Youre On Birth Control
ThereÃ¢s no test to tell if youÃ¢ve gone through menopause yet or not. The best way to tell is through your period.
YouÃ¢ve most likely gone through menopause if youÃ¢re over 50 years old and havenÃ¢t had a period in more than 1 year, or if youÃ¢re under 50 years old and havenÃ¢t had a period in more than 2 years. But you may not be able to tell if youÃ¢ve reached menopause if youÃ¢re still on birth control.
Hormonal birth control may hide some of the symptoms of menopause, such as an abnormal period, hot flashes, or night sweats. If you take combination pills , even after menopause, you may continue to bleed similarly to how you would on your period. This can make it hard to tell if youÃ¢ve gone through menopause and whether youÃ¢re still able to get pregnant.
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Factors Related To Timing Of Menopause
Results from cross-sectional studies have indicated that endocrine changes characteristic of the onset of the perimenopause begin at around age 45. The median age at menopause among white women from industrialized countries ranges between 50 and 52 years and at onset of the perimenopause is 47.5 years, with slight evidence of increasing age at menopause over time. These onsets seem to vary by race and ethnicity and are affected by demographic and lifestyle factors.,,, Although some studies have reported no familial relationship, 1 study has reported that age at menopause was positively associated with maternal age at menopause, and 1 recent study has shown genetic control of age at menopause in a study of twins. However, a number of potentially modifiable factors which may affect estrogen metabolism, including body mass index , diet , and passive smoke exposure have not been examined, nor has the time-varying effect of these and of the other factors that have been previously identified been examined in longitudinal analyses of sufficiently large and diverse study populations.
What Is The Oldest Age A Woman Has Reached Menopause
Many women in their 60’s still have periods, but there is no “Guiness world record” for latest onset of menopause and no definitive or exhaustive study to document the Oldest Onset of menopause.
although there may be one for the oldest woman to give birth, which would by deductive reasoning mean she wasn’t in menopause when she conceived the child. That would still not answer the question though!
Menopause is a process not an event and having “a period” is not the end or only requirement. Unlike the onset of a woman’s period, there is not a day or hour when it “stops”. Intermittent periods, end of ovulation, rapidly dropping in Estrogen and Progesterone production. Or the onset of some, many or all of the symptoms which may include:
Intermittent Menstrual periods that eventually stop
Fast Heart rate or racing,
Hot flashes, and Night sweat
Low Libido, Decreased interest, decreased sexual pleasure
Forgetfulness, foggy thinking
Mood swings including irritability, depression, and anxiety
Loss of muscle & Muscle tone, Urine leakage
Vaginal dryness and painful sexual intercourse
Vaginal infections, Urinary Tract infections
Joint aches and pains, specialy in major joints like hips, knees shoulders.
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How Is Early Menopause Diagnosed
The time leading into menopause is called perimenopause. During this time, you may have irregular periods and other symptoms that come and go.
Youre generally considered to be in menopause if you go 12 months without menstrual bleeding, and you dont have another medical condition to explain your symptoms.
Tests arent usually needed to diagnose menopause. Most women can self-diagnose menopause based on their symptoms. But if you think youre experiencing early menopause, you may want to see your doctor to be sure.
Your doctor can order hormone tests to help determine whether your symptoms are due to perimenopause or another condition. These are the most common hormones to check:
- Anti-Mullerian hormone . The
Predicting Natural Menopause: Why Does Age Matter
If theres not a lot that women can do to change when theyll experience menopause, why does predicting it even matter?
It would be helpful for every woman to know exactly when menopause will arrive. Beyond recognizing and addressing issues such as increased cardiovascular disease risk and risks related to bone health, if a woman knows her age of menopause and how long the perimenopause transition will last, it could help her make important health decisions, says Faubion.
If youre bleeding like crazy it would be helpful to know, she says.
As of now, research hasnt uncovered a way to determine when a women will go into menopause, but having that information could be useful in making decisions such as whether to have a hysterectomy or other invasive procedures, says Faubion. If menopause is going to be a few months or a year from now, you may choose to wait it out if it’s going to be five years from now, you might want to go ahead and have an invasive procedure, she says.
The ability to predict when menopause will occur could also help with managing menopause symptoms or deciding which type of birth control to use, adds Faubion.
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How Do I Know If I Am In Menopause
Menopause is defined as 12 consecutive months without having a menstrual cycle. If you are currently not having periods, but it has not yet been 12 full months, you might be in menopause, but you cannot be sure until you have gone a full year without having a period.
Some cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can also lead to medical menopause, which can be temporary or permanent.
Ht Forms And Regimens
HT comes in several forms:
- Oral tablets or pills
- Vaginal ring
- Topical gel or spray
HT pills and skin patches are considered “systemic” therapy because the medication delivered affects the entire body. The risk for blood clots, heart attacks, and certain types of cancers is higher with hormone pills than with skin patches or other transdermal forms.
Vaginal forms of HT are called “local” therapy. Doctors generally prescribe vaginal applications of low-dose estrogen therapy to specifically treat menopausal symptoms such as vaginal dryness and pain during sex. This type of ET is available in a cream, tablet, or ring that is inserted into the vagina.
“Bioidentical” hormone therapy is promoted as a supposedly more natural and safer alternative to commercial prescription hormones. Bioidentical hormones are typically compounded in a pharmacy. Some compounding pharmacies claim that they can customize these formulations based on saliva tests that show a woman’s individual hormone levels.
The FDA and many professional medical associations warn patients that “bioidentical” is a marketing term that has no scientific validity. Formulations sold in these pharmacies have not undergone FDA regulatory scrutiny. Some of these compounds contain estriol, a weak form of estrogen, which has not been approved by the FDA for use in any drug. In addition, saliva tests do not give accurate or realistic results, as a woman’s hormone levels fluctuate throughout the day.
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Invest In A Portable Fan
Hot flashes and night sweats are among the most common symptoms of menopause. Sometimes it might feel like you are always hot. In public or at work, you often wont have much control over the room temperature, but you still have options. Investing in a portable fan is one way that you can take care of yourself no matter where you are. You might be surprised by what this inexpensive machine can do for you.
Itisdefinitely True That Sex After Menopause Can Be Painful At Least For Some Time
The most prominent change I hear about from my patients is that sometimes sex can become painful after menopause, board-certified ob/gyn Antonio Pizarro, M.D., tells SELF. Most of the time, this is related to a loss of estrogen. That can cause whatâs known as vaginal atrophy or genitourinary syndrome of menopause, in which the vaginal tissue becomes thinner and more delicate, Dr. Pizarro explains. Issues like pain, vaginal dryness, and urinary problems can crop up as a result of vaginal atrophy. Around half of postmenopausal people experience these symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Doctors mainly treat vaginal atrophy with some form of estrogen supplementation, but there can be drawbacks. Pizarro notes that theres a small risk the amped up estrogen can contribute to uterine cancer unless a woman pairs it with the synthetic hormone progestin. But combining the two may then increase a womanâs risk of breast cancer, according to The American Cancer Society, which has a comprehensive breakdown of the benefits and drawbacks of using hormones to deal with menopause symptoms.
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Mood And Memory Effects
Menopause-related cognitive impairment can be confused with the mild cognitive impairment that precedes dementia. Tentative evidence has found that forgetfulness affects about half of menopausal women and is probably caused by the effects of declining estrogen levels on the brain, or perhaps by reduced blood flow to the brain during hot flashes.
How Can I Predict Menopause
There is no reliable lab test to predict when a woman will experience menopause. The age at which a woman starts having menstrual periods is not related to the age of menopause onset. Symptoms of menopause can include abnormal vaginal bleeding, hot flashes, vaginal and urinary symptoms, and mood changes.
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What Happens After Menopause
After menopause you will no longer be able to get pregnant and you will no longer get a period. If you have any type of vaginal bleeding after menopause, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Vaginal bleeding after menopause is not normal and can mean that you have a serious health problem.
You may experience any of the following after menopause:
- Low hormone levels. With menopause, your ovaries make very little of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Because of changing hormone levels, you may develop , including osteoporosis, .
- Menopause symptoms instead of period problems. After menopause, most women get relief from or menopause . However, you may still experience symptoms such as hot flashes because of changing estrogen levels. One recent study found that hot flashes can continue for up to 14 years after menopause.,
- Vaginal dryness. Vaginal dryness may be more common post-menopause. Learn more about for vaginal dryness.
Does The Age My Mother Reached Menopause Mean Anything
Most likely your moms age at menopause will provide a clue. When we look at the things that are the greatest determinants for when someone is going to go through menopause, genetics seems to be one of the most important things, says Streicher.
A womans race or ethnicity can influence when she goes through menopause, too, she says. Findings from the Study of Womens Health Across the Nation indicate that women of color tend to begin perimenopause and menopause at earlier ages than white women.
The question I always ask women when they ask when theyre going to go through menopause is, When did your mom go through menopause? because that is very often predictive, says Streicher.
Theres a lot of truth in that. You may follow what happened with your mother if she went through menopause early or late, you may, too, she says.
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Do You Need To Take Calcium Supplements For Menopause
Menopause cannot be prevented however, steps can be taken to help reduce the risk factors for other problems associated with menopause. It is recommended that postmenopausal women consume 1,200 to 1,500 mg of elemental calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D daily.
The least expensive way to obtain calcium is through diet. Diet can easily provide 1,000-1,500 mg of calcium daily. The following foods contain calcium:
- One cup of milk â 300 mg
- One cup of calcium-fortified orange juice â 300 mg
- One cup of yogurt â about 400 mg on average
- One ounce of cheddar cheese â about 200 mg
- Three ounces of salmon â 205 mg
Dietary calcium supplements are a good option for women who cannot consume adequate calcium through diet. Calcium carbonate is the least expensive, although some women complain of bloating. Calcium citrate may be better absorbed by women who take acid-blocking medications, such as ranitidine or cimetidine .
Calcium products made from bone meal, dolomite, or unrefined oyster shells may contain lead and should be avoided. Products with âUSPâ on the label meet the voluntary quality standards set by the United States Pharmacopeia and are more likely not to contain harmful contaminants.
What Causes The Menopause
The menopause is caused by a change in the balance of the body’s sex hormones, which occurs as you get older.
It happens when your ovaries stop producing as much of the hormone oestrogen and no longer release an egg each month.
Premature or early menopause can occur at any age, and in many cases there’s no clear cause.
Sometimes it’s caused by a treatment such as surgery to remove the ovaries , some breast cancer treatments, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or it can be brought on by an underlying condition, such as Down’s syndrome or Addison’s disease.
Page last reviewed: 29 August 2018 Next review due: 29 August 2021
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Factors That Influence Menopause Duration And Symptoms
Like puberty and pregnancy, perimenopause begins and ends at different times for each woman. There are so many factors influencing the timing and experience of perimenopause that every woman will write her own story. Genetics, lifestyle, diet, stress, general health, and cultural perspective are all elements of when and how dramatically you will experience menopause-related symptoms.
That being said, the vast majority of women will experience their menopause in a two- to 10-year window of time, probably from their mid-forties to their mid-fifties.
But even if you begin much earlier or end later, you may still be having your own version of a healthy menopause. And whether you never feel a single hot flash, or continue to have them into your late 60s, it can be normal for you.