Some refer to menopause as “the change” and that nickname is very fitting. Menopause is the transition from fertility to infertility in women. There are three phases of menopause, and it’s important to list all three because there is crossover between them.
The three phases, broken down
Menopause occurs after twelve consecutive months after a woman’s final period, marking the end of fertility.
Perimenopause is defined as the period of time around a woman’s last menstrual period. Perimenopause includes the time leading up to the last menstrual period, as well as the twelve months afterwards. During this time, a woman’s body starts producing less estrogen, but she may still menstruate and become pregnant. A woman may already experience menopausal symptoms at this time.
Postmenopause refers to a woman’s life span after menopause. Women may experience symptoms for up to ten years.
So what are menopausal symptoms?
During perimenopause a woman’s body starts producing less estrogen, making her eggs gradually less fertile and creating fewer periods. For that reason, one symptom is irregular periods. That could mean skipped periods, light periods, or even heavier ones.
Another symptom is mood swings. A woman’s sex hormones also play a role in feelings of happiness and energy levels, so their fluctuation can cause an emotional roller coaster. These can begin in perimenopause and last through menopause.
The most famous symptoms of menopause are hot flashes. Experts still debate why hot flashes occur—many attribute them to the change in estrogen levels—but they can vary in severity from one woman to the next.
Some symptoms span menopause to postmenopause. These include bone density loss, a spike in cholesterol and vaginal dryness.
How To Survive The Symptoms
Menopause may sound overwhelming, but there are ways to manage the symptoms. In fact, some remedies address several symptoms at once.
Exercise. Working out boosts endorphins and battles the depression that comes with menopause. Exercise also fights bone density loss and helps with cholesterol management.
Be social. Close relationships boost progesterone and fight stress. And hey—it can’t hurt to vent to someone who is going through the same thing.
Take calcium supplements. These are crucial for fighting bone density loss.
Invest in lubricant and cranberry tablets. The vaginal dryness can make sex uncomfortable, but it can also increase one’s risk of urinary tract infections. Lubricant improves sex, and cranberry tablets boost urinary tract health.
Eat healthily. Eating the right foods will help with all of the symptoms. Heavy foods can make one feel lethargic, which only makes matters worse. Healthy foods will help prevent depression, give a woman the energy she needs to exercise and keep cholesterol levels low.
Menopause is never easy, but if a woman knows what to expect, and has the tools ready to fight the symptoms, “the change” won’t be so bad.