There are a number of stops along the way from having a period, to not having one for a year (officially consider to be menopause). It’s actually a common perimenopause myth that you have normal periods, and then they suddenly stop.
We’ll give you a brief rundown of the stages of Menopause, including the following:
- Stage 1: Early perimenopause (hormonal changes begin)
- Stage 2: Late perimenopause (very irregular periods)
- Stage 3: Menopause (when periods stop)
- Stage 4: Post-menopause (1 year after periods cease)
Perimenopause is the stage when you might first begin to notice some symptoms of changing hormones, specifically a reduction in the amount of estrogen produced. These perimenopausal symptoms can include:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Depressive symptoms
- Weight gain
- Aches and pains, including headaches
Stage 1: Early Perimenopause
During the early phases of perimenopause, you may notice some of these symptoms, but you may not have any changes to your menstrual cycle yet. That will soon come though!
Learn more here: Perimenopause Signs and Symptoms.
If your symptoms are particularly severe, you may want to talk to your doctor about Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). However, there are some risk factors to using them, so check in with your doctor if the benefits outweigh these risks in your particular situation.
Stage 2: Late Perimenopause
The closer you get to not having periods any more, the more irregular your periods will become. There are a number of things that can happen:
- Heavier periods
- Lighter periods
- Longer menstrual cycle
- Shorter menstrual cycle
- Shorter bleeding time
- Etc, including changes in discharge.
This time period is characterized by changing hormone levels, so just about anything can happen with regards to the menstrual cycle.
Perimenopause and Missed Periods
Finally, in late Perimenopause, you may begin to miss or skip periods. It officially happens when you’ve gone more than 60 days without your period. This signals that menopause is not far away.
What Age Does Perimenopause Happen?
A common question is when this is expected to happen. The average person reaches menopause at around 51, and has 4-10 years of symptoms and irregular periods before that. So, it could happen as early as 40, or at late as 46 or 47.
Of course, there are people who go through early menopause. And, there are people who have a later menopause in their sixties. It really depends on you, but it is largely based on genetics.
The Stages of Perimenopause
Stage 3: Menopause
When you miss a period, begin a countdown. This period of time officially lasts 12 months. If you have a period, the countdown goes back to zero. Then, begin again.
If you reach 12 months without menstruating, you are in the next phase, post-menopausal period.
Please keep in mind that as long as you have a period, it is indeed still possible to get pregnant. So, if you’re in this stage of life, but are having unprotected sex, you may also be pregnant if you start to miss periods.
Stage 4: Post-Menopause
After 12 months of no bleeding, you’re considered to be post-menopausal for the rest of your life. Your ovaries are no longer releasing eggs at this point in time.
Bleeding during this phase is NOT normal, so be sure to check with your doctor ASAP is this does happen to you. It could be an indication of some quite serious things, including ovarian cancer.
During the postmenopause phase, you may experience some of the following things:
- Vaginal dryness
- Night sweats
- Urinary issues
- Mood changes
Most of these things are caused by a lack of estrogen.
During this time, you’re at a higher risk of a number of diseases including osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer, so maintain good health and check in with your doctor periodically.
Learn What to Expect During Menopause
What Age Does Menopause Occur?
If you have some of the symptoms of perimenopause, you’ll probably want to know at what age you can expect your periods to stop. When you cease menstruating for a year, you’ve officially hit menopause.
The average age for a women in North America is the very early 50’s. However, it depends on a number of factors, but genetics is the most important one. Ask your mother when she went through menopause. You can expect to fall within a couple years on either side of that.
However, some women go through menopause far earlier, even in their 20’s. This is usually due to some underlying medical condition.
What about Perimenopause Treatment?
Okay, so you’re going through the stages of perimenopause, and are perhaps experiencing some pretty serious symptoms. Are there any treatment options available, or do you just have to suffer through it?
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is the standard treatment options. However, it does come with some risks and it’s not right for everyone.
You can learn more here: Treatment Options During Perimenopause.
There are also some people who advocate for supplements to deal with the symptoms of perimenopause, as well as to help regulate hormones. Results are kind of mixed, but you can see if they might work for you. Learn more here:
Do Men Go Through Menopause?
It all seems so unfair that women have to go through perimenopause, and menopause with the hot flashes, weight gain, and variety of other symptoms. What about men? Do they escape without anything happening to their bodies?
Find out here: Male Menopause: Is it a Thing?
Stages of Menopause: Have your Say!
What are your thoughts about the various stages of perimenopause? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.