I want to normalize the conversation around menopause and continue to bring more awareness to it. Today I’m talking the basics of the 3 stages of menopause in women because the more you know, the better prepared you can be in the transition!
Stage 1: Perimenopause
In our 40’s most women aren’t thinking about menopause. They don’t connect the dots that some symptoms they are experiencing could be the onset of perimenopause. I know that was the case for me! When I was in my 40’s I looked and felt my best but I started struggling with sleep and other little things were happening that I attributed to my divorce and other stressful events. In hindsight I realize it was probably the transition into perimenopause. If I would have recognized the signs I could have made some small changes!
So what IS perimenopause?
It’s defined as the transitional period before menopause. What’s happening in your body at this time is your estrogen levels are starting to decrease. This is why you may begin having symptoms like hot flashes or irregular periods because your body is moving towards the end of your reproductive years.
There is no one way perimenopause presents itself. Some women may begin to transition as early as mid 30’s, others in their mid 50’s while most experience it at some point in their 40’s. Some women are only in perimenopause for a short time but for many women it can last 4-8 years.
How will you know when you’re in perimenopause?
For most, the first sign is irregular periods. Many women go from having predictable periods to an irregular cycle. Hot flashes and vaginal dryness may also start to show up for you. Other symptoms you may experience in perimenopause are:
- Periods that are lighter or heavier than usual
- Discomfort during sex
- The need to urinate more often
- Sleep problems
- Changes in mood: irritability, depression, mood swings.
These symptoms can last a few months to many years; again, it looks different for each of us! Having regular checkups with your doctor can help you in the transition.
How you can support yourself through perimenopause:
- eat a healthy diet full of fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins
- Incorporate more weight bearing exercises into your routine like walking, hiking, strength training.
- Avoid screen time before bed and instead try relaxing activities that will help improve sleep.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine.
- Practice stress management routines like meditation.
- If needed, lose weight. This reduces hot flashes and night sweats and will improve your energy levels.
Stage 2: Menopause
Menopause is a more straightforward. You have officially reached menopause when you have gone a full 12 months without a period.
Stage 3: Postmenopause
Postmenopause is the time after you’ve gone 12 months without your period. This is the stage I’m in and it’s still a process. I’ve heard other women say that it’s better than ever on the other side of menopause. I’m not fully there yet as I still have symptoms. I still get hot flashes every now and then and sleep can still be an issue for me so I stay proactive. I continue taking peptides and my hormone therapy, I make sure I’m eating the right foods, I’ve eliminated alcohol 99.9% of the time, I keep active and focus more on strength training. I really pay attention to signals my body is giving me so I can care for it and allow myself to age gracefully.
Tune into previous podcasts on menopause
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