Menopause, sometimes called “the change” is the time when your menstrual periods stop permanently and you can no longer get pregnant. Some people call the time leading up to a woman’s last period menopause but this time is actually the transition to menopause, or perimenopause. As your body transitions to menopause over several years, you may have menopause symptoms and irregular periods. The average age for menopause in the United States is 52.
After menopause, your body makes much less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Very low estrogen levels after menopause can affect your health and cause symptoms such as hot flashes. We can help you take steps to protect your health and relieve your symptoms.
Perimenopause is a long transition to menopause. As your body transitions to menopause, your hormone levels may change randomly, causing menopause symptoms unexpectedly. During this transition, your ovaries make different amounts of the hormones estrogen and progesterone than usual.
Irregular periods happen during this time because you may not ovulate every month. Your periods may be longer or shorter than usual with long or short menstrual cycles. You might skip a few months or have unusually long or short menstrual cycles. Your period may be heavier or lighter than before. Many women also have hot flashes and other menopause symptoms during this transition. Sometimes it can be hard for you to tell whether you are in perimenopause
Perimenopause usually starts in a woman’s mid- to late 40s. On average, women are in perimenopause for four years before their periods stop.
Symptoms: Tell your Women’s Health Care PC doctor about any menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes or trouble sleeping.
- Track your periods, as they may be your first sign of menopause.
- Your Women’s Health Care PC doctor may test the level of hormones in your blood if your periods stopped before age 40. Doctors don’t usually recommend this test unless there is a medical reason to do so. This is because, for most women, hormone levels go up and down in an unpredictable way during the transition to menopause, so it is difficult to determine if you have gone through menopause or are getting close to it based on this blood test.
After menopause you will no longer be able to get pregnant and you will no longer get a period. So, if you have any type of vaginal bleeding after menopause, you should see your Women’s Health Care PC doctor as soon as possible. Vaginal bleeding after menopause is not normal and could mean you may 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 certain health risks, including osteoporosis, heart disease, and stroke.
- Menopause symptoms instead of period problems. After menopause, most women get relief from period problems or menopause symptoms. However, you may still experience symptoms such as hot flashes because of changing estrogen levels.
- Vaginal dryness may be more common post-menopause.