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The Stages Of Menopause

Dr. Kavita Desai

Even though menopause is a natural, biological process and something that half of the world's population will experience in their lives, it remains a taboo topic and one that many medical practitioners are not well-educated in or trained on how to manage. This lack of education and support leaves women in the dark about how to navigate this important stage of life, and often we end up suffering through uncomfortable and even debilitating symptoms that can also lead to an increased risk of numerous chronic illnesses.

Since our bodies go through significant changes during this phase, which can begin as early as our mid-30s, it is incredibly important to understand exactly what is happening as you go through perimenopause and ultimately reach menopause. We shouldn’t be expected to simply endure these symptoms – we deserve to feel great and live our lives to the fullest.

With that in mind, let’s dive into the four stages of menopause, some of the symptoms that can be expected, how the loss of our hormones affects our long-term disease risk, and tips to help navigate this transition better and feel our best!

There are four stages of menopause, each of which have their own symptoms, hormone levels and age range/duration. The four stages are: Premenopause, Perimenopause, Menopause and Postmenopause.

Here’s a deeper look at what you can expect during each of these four stages:

Premenopause Stage

As its name suggests, the premenopause stage begins with the first menstruation during puberty and ends with perimenopause when the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, begin to fluctuate and diminish. During this stage, a woman has her regular menstrual cycle and no noticeable symptoms of perimenopause. Most women will begin this stage during their pre-teen or early teen years until perimenopause begins.

Perimenopause Stage

Perimenopause is the time when estrogen and progesterone levels begin to fluctuate and drop, which can begin as early as the mid-30s. The loss of these hormones leads to more than 50 potential symptoms, some of which can be quite debilitating. Some of these symptoms are well-known, such as hot flashes, hair loss and weight gain; however, there are many lesser-known symptoms associated with perimenopause, such as tinnitus, heart palpitations and mood disorders. So many of these symptoms are often undiagnosed, untreated or treated as separate diagnoses rather than one single condition. As a result, many women are not offered proper care and continue to suffer.

Menopause Stage

Menopause occurs when you have gone without a period for 12 consecutive months. As such, women “experience” menopause only on that one day in their life. Menopause usually occurs for most women sometime between their mid-40s and mid-50s, but this varies from person to person. The average age of menopause for a woman in the United States is 51 years old. Many perimenopausal symptoms will diminish or disappear after menopause has occurred and the body adjusts to the absence of female hormones. However, for some women, the symptoms of perimenopause may continue even after menopause.

Postmenopause Stage

Postmenopause takes place after you have surpassed a full year without a menstrual cycle and menopause has occurred. This stage lasts for the rest of your life. During this time, many of the symptoms that are associated with perimenopause have disappeared, or gradually decrease. However, due to lower levels of hormones like estrogen, postmenopausal women are at an increased risk for various health conditions, including: Osteoporosis, Cardiovascular disease,Vaginal atrophy, Dementia and Urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Dr. Kavita Desai, PharmD, started her career as a hospital-based pharmacist, eventually opening her own integrated medical center and clinical pharmacy focused on women’s care and preventative medicine. These experiences led her to launch the women’s health and wellness platform, Revivele, and write, Lady Parts: Putting Women's Health Back Into Women's Hands.


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