Menopause

Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of menstruation and fertility. Technically, you are considered to have reached menopause one year after the completion of your final menstrual cycle. In the United States, the average age at which a woman reaches menopause is about 51, although most women can expect to enter a transition phase called perimenopause as early as their mid-40s.

During perimenopause you begin experiencing menopausal signs and symptoms, even though you still menstruate. Your hormone levels rise and fall unevenly, and you may experience other symptoms including:

  • Vaginal dryness
  • Hot flashes
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Mood swings
  • Increased abdominal fat
  • Thinning hair
  • Loss of breast fullness

Perimenopause may last four to five years or longer. You should not hesitate to get treatment if any of the symptoms you experience are severe. There are many options available to women today, ranging from lifestyle changes to hormone therapy. Your health care provider can help you choose the therapy that’s right for you.

Once 12 months have passed since your last period, you've officially reached menopause. Your ovaries produce much less estrogen and no progesterone, and they don't release eggs. The years that follow are called postmenopause.