There are three phases of menopause, namely
1. Peri-menopause: is the transitional stage before menopause that can last for an average of 4 years. Some women only have it for a few months, while others have it for over 4 years. It can begin from your mid-30s to your mid-50s. In this stage, estrogen levels decrease, which causes irregular periods and decreased fertility. However, a woman can still get pregnant at this stage, so she should continue taking birth control. There are several factors that can lead to early premenopause like excess tobacco smoking, family history of early menopause, cancer treatment, and having ovaries or uterus removed.
Some women have symptoms like menopause, including hot flashes, vaginal dryness, insomnia, frequent urination, mood swings, and a lighter or heavier period. To help with symptoms, treatment includes antidepressants, birth control pills, estrogen therapy, medication to relieve hot flashes, and vaginal creams.
2. Menopause: is a natural process where a woman’s menstrual cycle ends permanently, marking the end of her reproductive years. This is when the ovaries stop producing reproductive hormones, and a woman no longer gets monthly menstruation. Menopause is when women haven’t gotten their menstruation for 12 consecutive months. It isn’t a sudden experience and takes a few months to 10 years. It usually occurs in your late 40s to early 50s. Menopause can also result from surgery that removes the ovaries, hormonal birth control, overactive thyroid, high prolactin, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
Menopause has different symptoms that can occur randomly, such as irregular periods, hot flashes, fatigue, weight gain, low sex drive, hair loss, aches & pain, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, headaches, and vaginal dryness. There are different treatments to help ease your menopause symptoms. One option is hormone therapy, which replaces the hormones your body stopped making because of menopause. It can be taken by pills, patches, rings, and vaginal creams. Hormone therapy has side effects like bloating, sore breasts, headaches, upset stomach, and vaginal bleeding. Your doctor will inform you of the options and recommend the best one.
3. Post-menopause: is when a woman hasn’t had her period for at least a year but may still have symptoms. Some symptoms, like hot flashes, get milder or stop. This is when estrogen levels decrease, and a woman is no longer reproductive. It usually occurs in women in their late 40s to early 60s. Low estrogen levels can cause cardiovascular, skeletal, and urinary issues. It can also lower metabolic rates and cause vaginal dryness.
There are hormonal imbalances that affect sex drive along with vaginal dryness. But, some women experience increased sex drive due to the higher testosterone levels. Even though women’s fertility declines after 35, there is a chance of late pregnancy even after menopause. Women should continue their contraception 1-2 years after their last period, depending on what age they had their menopause. Some treatments help with symptoms like hormone therapy, vaginal estrogen & lubrication, osteoporosis treatments, and lifestyle changes.
After menopause, your body will get accustomed to your new hormone levels, and you’ll start to feel more comfortable. Some women worry that their sex drive will decrease, but different studies state the opposite.