“Menopause” is the term used to describe the end of having periods.
Menopause is a natural part of life that marks an end to the reproductive cycle in every woman’s life.
You will know menopause or “the change of life” has taken place if you have not experienced bleeding in 12 months.
What is the average age of menopause?
51 is the average age of menopause.
Most women reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, the average being around 51, according to the North American Menopause Society.
Those who experience menopause before the age of 40 are said to have premature menopause, those who experience menopause before the age of 45 are said to have experienced “early menopause”.
What age does perimenopause start?
The average age of perimenopause can range anywhere from 40 upwards.
Let’s define perimenopause.
Perimenopauseis defined as “around menopause” and refers to the period during which your body starts experiencing changes associated with the natural transition to menopause.
In other words, your body has started producing fewer female hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone. Your estrogen and progesterone levels may begin to fluctuate which can lead to a number of signs and symptoms in the body.
Some of the signs and symptoms that you may experience could include:
- Your period has become unpredictable or heavy
- Your period could become lighter, or you may just experience spotting
- Your period has become irregular, i.e. longer or shorter
Menopause symptoms may vary from one person to the other. Some of the most common menopause symptoms include:
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Aches and pains
- Vaginal dryness
- Reduced sex drive (libido)
- Crawling or itching sensations under the skin
- Difficulty sleeping – wakefulness or waking hot and sweaty
- Urinary frequency
- Discomfort with sexual intercourse
- Lack of self-esteem
During perimenopause, periods will often skip and return, or skip for several months and then start monthly cycles once again.
Periods tend to become shorter in their cycle length, so may occur closer together. Irregular periods are often the trademark sign that the menopause is beginning, however, this transitional period can last for several months and it is still possible to get pregnant during this stage, so it is important to bear that in mind.
What are the stages of menopause?
There are three stages in menopause:
refers to the period in which a woman’s body begins to prepare for menopause. Periods may become irregular, and menopausal symptoms such as vaginal dryness. hot flashes and sleep problems.
refers to the 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period. If you have not had a period for over 12 months, you have officially reached menopause.
refers to the years following menopause. Menopause symptoms begin to ease during this period. You may feel “back to normal” during the postmenopause period.
How do you know when menopause starts?
Usually, it is not possible to predict when menopause will start. However, it can be helpful to have conversations with your mother or sisters to get an indicator of when you may expect menopause to begin for you.
While the average age of menopause if 51 years of age, it can vary from person to person.
The symptoms of perimenopause may help to indicate that the menopause will soon start.
What is menopause belly?
“Menopause belly” is a phrase associated with weight gain around the waist line before, during, and after menopause.
It is quite common to put on weight in and around the waist as we get older. During and after the menopause, it is common for body fat to shift and sit around the abdomen.
There are other causes to an increase in belly fat, such as:
- Your age
- How much you eat per day
- How much you exercise per day
If you are concerned about “menopause belly”, Mayo Clinicoffer some helpful, practical advice:
- Eat a healthy diet. Focus on plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and choose lean sources of protein and low-fat dairy products. Limit added sugar and saturated fat, which is found in meat and high-fat dairy products, such as cheese and butter. Choose moderate amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — found in fish, nuts and certain vegetable oils — instead.
- Replace sugary beverages. Drink water or beverages with artificial sweetener instead.
- Keep portion sizes in check. Even when you’re making healthy choices, calories add up. At home, slim down your portion sizes. In restaurants, share meals — or eat half your meal and take the rest home.
- Include physical activity in your daily routine. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, for at least 150 minutes a week or vigorous aerobic activity, such as running, for at least 75 minutes a week.If you use a step counter, remember that it takes an average of 10,000 steps a day to prevent weight gain. Some studies indicate it might take 15,000 steps a day to prevent the regain of weight after significant weight loss.Strength training exercises also are recommended at least twice a week. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you might need to exercise more.
Written by Hannah Kingston on July 7, 2021
- Menopause 101: A primer for the perimenopausal - menopause.org
- Belly fat in women: Taking — and keeping — it off - mayoclinic.org