Menopause is the ending of the menses, the monthly period that allows female reproduction. There are many factors that influence how each woman enters menopause, such as her general health and heredity.
Understanding menopause is important in order to help you address this rite of passage that eventually affects every woman’s life.
So what is the difference between premature menopause, perimenopause and menopause?
Other than the difference in fertility levels and periods, variances in the stages of menopause are subtle. Medical tests, such as blood tests and hormone level tests, will confirm that the process has begun, which allows a woman and her doctor to address the side effects of menopause.
Being knowledgeable about menopause is paramount to easing the transition to this years-long process. In what follows, you will learn about the different parts of menopause:
1. Premature (early onset) menopause
Occurs before the age of 40, even as early as 30 or younger
Obviously, not all women experience premature menopause.
One of the first signs of premature menopause can be severe cramping, but it will require a gynecological exam to exclude other problems, such as fibroids. The most prevalent signs, though, are:
At least 12 consecutive months without a period
Acute changes in the levels of hormones estrogen and progesterone
Symptoms of premature menopause are the same as those of women who do not go through premature menopause.
Premature menopause results in loss of fertility.
Premature menopause can be the result of heredity, medical conditions or procedures, or other reasons. In other words, it can occur due to natural or induced causes.
Typically occurs between the ages of 40 – 45, rarely any younger
Perimenopause is the transitional time during which the female body moves toward the permanent infertility associated with menopause.
The two most prevalent signs of perimenopause are:
Irregular periods – frequency and flow – as opposed to cessation of periods
Median changes in the levels of hormones estrogen and progesterone
Perimenopause maintains fertility, but at a lower rate of occurrence, and typically lasts four to five years before full menopause begins.
Typically occurs between the ages of 45 – 55, or immediately at any age if ovaries are removed
The most common signs of full menopause are:
Consists of no periods for longer than twelve months
Low levels of hormones estrogen and progesterone
When full menopause comes, fertility ends. The symptoms of it may last from three to five years before a woman enters the post-menopause phase.
In summary, it is important to remember that the beginning of menopause is represented by different occurrences for each woman. The best practice is to consult your gynecologist as soon as you notice any changes in your menstrual cycle or its characteristics. Above all, educate yourself about menopause in order to be physically and mentally prepared for this life-changing event.