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What are the Stages of Menopause?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Menopause is the stage of a woman's life when menstruation stops. Leading up to this event are several different stages of menopause, including premenopause, perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause. Each of these stages marks significant changes in a woman's body. Fluctuations in hormones often cause symptoms unique to each of the stages of menopause.

Premenopause is the first of the stages of menopause. This stage marks the years of fertility in a woman's life. Premenopause covers the time from the first menstrual period and lasts until the woman has experienced her last menstrual period. Sometimes, this term is used incorrectly to describe a condition known as premature menopause.

Perimenopause is the next of the stages of menopause. Perimenopause refers to the years of a woman's life when hormone fluctuations begin, but before menopause occurs. This is the stage most commonly thought of when the word menopause is used. During the years of perimenopause, menopause symptoms such as hot flashes are common.

The stage of perimenopause can last for several years. Menstrual periods begin to change, sometimes lasting longer than before, or sometimes being shorter or even absent on occasion. Hot flashes and emotional changes are also common during this time. This is due to the sometimes severe hormone fluctuations that occur as the body prepares to end the stage of fertility.

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Menopause itself is the next of the stages of menopause. This stage occurs when the ovaries are no longer able to function. At this time, menstruation stops completely. Menopause is considered complete when there have been no menstrual periods for at least one year. Menopause can occur naturally or be medically induced, as in the case of a hysterectomy.

There are many symptoms associated with this stage of menopause. Night sweats and hot flashes are among the most common symptoms associated with this time in a woman's life. Other symptoms can include vaginal dryness, breast tenderness, and mood swings. A gynecologist is trained to understand and treat the symptoms associated with menopause. Hormone therapy is often beneficial in the treatment of many of these symptoms.

The last of the stages of menopause is referred to as postmenopause. This is the stage of a woman's life after menopause has occurred and lasts until the end of life. Medical conditions such as osteoporosis or even heart disease are known to become more prevalent during this stage of life. For this reason, regular medical check-up are vital to a woman's continued health.

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