The menopause is one of the biggest health events women go through in their lifetime. While it can be a relief to see the back of the menstrual cycle, that can soon fade once the side effects of the menopause kick in.
There are different stages of the menopause and each woman will experience them slightly differently. Here, we’ll look at the different stages of the condition and what you can expect from each one.
The first stage is known as the Perimenopause. It tends to occur around five years before the actual menopause begins. It is the lead-up stage, and it can trigger the common symptoms associated with the menopause such as hot flushes and mood swings.
The ovaries start to produce fewer follicles, and the menstrual cycle starts to become irregular. Approximately 12% of women at this stage experience a complete halt to their periods. The other 88% experience fluctuations within their cycle, with it lasting longer or shorter than usual. There may even be spotting experienced between cycles and the start date will change with each passing month.
It is the drop in progesterone hormones that causes symptoms to start developing. These can include sleep troubles, mood swings and anxiety.
The menopause itself tends to occur between the ages of 45 and 50. However, some women experience early menopause in their 20s and 30s. It is diagnosed when you haven’t had a menstrual cycle for at least 12 months.
When the menopause occurs, additional symptoms kick in. You may start to find your joints become more stiff and painful. This is particularly true for the hips and knees. Other symptoms include vaginal dryness, more frequent urination, more severe mood swings and hot flushes.
The symptoms of the menopause can last for years after periods have stopped completely, which leads us onto the last stage.
The final stage is known as post-menopause. Your adrenal glands continue to produce oestrone, only in much smaller quantities. The hormone levels are much lower than they were pre-menopause. So, you can continue to experience symptoms such as thinning hair, mood swings and depression.
During this stage, it’s really important to focus on ways to reduce the effects the limited hormones have on the body. Eating a healthy diet, exercising and keeping an eye on cholesterol and blood sugar levels is recommended. You’ll also want to look at strengthening the bones as the menopause increases the risk of osteoporosis.
As you can see, the different stages of the menopause contribute to different symptoms. There are things you can do throughout each stage to limit its impact on your health.
If you suspect you are going through menopausal symptoms, it’s important to seek a diagnosis. Testing for the menopause is limited, with many patients feeling like they are let down by their GP due to a dismissal of the symptoms. Therefore, it’s a good idea to seek a diagnosis from a specialist women’s health clinic. They will also be able to recommend treatment options to manage the menopausal symptoms. Call 07835 736627 to arrange an appointment at SureScan.