Menopause is a natural biological process that indicates the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles. The condition occurs gradually, but is diagnosed after 12 consecutive months without a period. Most women will experience natural menopause between the ages of 40 and 58, but induced menopause may occur earlier as a result of medical intervention.
There are three stages of menopause: perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause.
Perimenopause, commonly referred to as menopausal transition, is the time leading up to a woman’s last menstrual cycle. This stage can last between 4 to 8 years and is characterized by the body’s slowed production of estrogen and progesterone, the hormones that regulate menstruation. During the last two years of this transitional stage, women begin to experience menopausal symptoms as their estrogen levels quickly drop.
Menopause, indicates the last menstrual cycle. The ovaries have stopped releasing eggs, and the body stops producing estrogen.
Postmenopause, is characterized by the lessening of menopausal symptoms.