The menopause is a natural biological transition that happens to all women, usually between the ages of 45 and 55. For most women, the menopause is a gradual process and one that encompasses a whole host of physical and physiological changes to the body. Keep reading to find out more about the menopause.
What is the menopause?
The menopause (often described as a woman’s second spring) is when a woman’s period ceases, and she is no longer able to conceive and reproduce naturally. A woman is said to be in menopause when she hasn’t had a period for a year or more.
A woman’s transition from her fertile years into menopause is called perimenopause and the perimenopause can last anything from 7 – 10 years. Often women do not recognise when they are going though perimenopause as the menstrual cycle is often the last thing to be affected.
Once a woman has gone a year or more without a period she is menopausal.
On average, the menopause which is a natural biological transition occurs over an average of 4 years from the date of a women’s last period, but many women can experience it for up to 10 years after their last period.
When does the menopause start?
Officially a woman isn’t in menopause until she has ceased to have a period for one year or more. Typically, women experience the menopause between the ages of 45 to 55, with the average age being 51 but for some women it can be much later and they continue to have menstrual cycles well into their 50’s.
However, some women may experience a natural menopause before the age of 40, this is called primary ovarian insufficiency and other women may experience it early due to surgery such as a hysterectomy.
How long does the menopause last?
The menopause can last an average of four years however every woman’s menopause journey is unique and some women can experience the menopause from 4 years up to 10 years. Once a woman has not had a period for 12 consecutive months or longer, she enters the post-menopause stage.
Menopausal women can experience many physical and psychological changes that indicate they are menopausal but sometimes they don’t recognise them.
What is the difference between the menopause and post menopause?
While it may seem confusing, there is a distinct difference between the menopause and post menopause.
The menopause is confirmed once a woman has not had a menstrual cycle for 12 consecutive months.
From this important 12-month mark and beyond, a woman is considered to be post-menopausal.
Post menopause is the term used for the rest of the women’s life.