The word menopause is oftentimes used loosely to refer to the entire menopause experience. But I’m sure by now you know that the entire process occurs in stages. Namely, perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause. Together they make the menopausal experience. Let’s take a look at each phase.
Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause and can last anywhere from seven to fourteen years. It can begin as early as the mid-thirties (even the teens and twenties) and is initiated by a natural decline in hormones, primarily estrogen and progesterone. For many, perimenopause is accompanied by a slew of symptoms, which can range from mild to severe. There are over 40 symptoms related to the menopausal experience. As a matter of fact, the most recent figure I heard was over 70. I began perimenopause at thirty-eight years old and recently celebrated my transition into Menopause.
While perimenopause can typically last anywhere from seven to fourteen years, menopause technically lasts only one day. You’re officially in menopause when you’ve not had a period for twelve consecutive months or one year. For example, I officially entered menopause on November 23rd, which was twelve months/one year from my last period. This is simply the guideline for people to know when they have crossed the perimenopause threshold. So menopause is for one day, and you’re on to the next pause.
You’re in post-menopause every day after you’ve officially transitioned to menopause. I entered post menopause as of November 24th, and there is where I shall stay for the rest of my life. Symptoms during post-menopause often overlap those of peri-menopause. Many people continue to have hot flashes and many of the other symptoms that are in effect during perimenopause.
And, no. post-menopause does not mean symptoms say sayonara. The not-so-good news is that for many, symptoms can continue for several more years.
I hope this gave you some perspective on the different phases of menopause. What phase are you in? And how has your experience been? Share in the comments below.