After the age of 45 (on average) a woman’s body begins to change. With our guide to menopause you will be ready to spot all the signs in the right way.
Guide to menopause:
- What is menopause?
- Menopause: physiological age, early or late
- Duration of menopause
- Menstruation, symptoms of impending menopause?
- Other menopause disorders: nausea
- Menopause: all ailments
- Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy: one in two women in menopause suffers from it
- What is the reason for menopausal disorders?
- The psyche in menopause: a delicate moment
What is menopause?
The menopause is a physiological moment in the life of every woman and coincides with the end of fertility. Once menopause is reached, the woman is no longer able to have children because the production of eggs stops. For this reason the menstrual cycle disappears : the body no longer needs to prepare the uterus every month to receive an egg.
Menopause: physiological age, early or late
The national average marks the arrival of menopause around the age of 51 (in an interval between 45 and 55 years).
Before this period – and for an interval that covers from 12 months to 5 years – it is possible that you experience disorders typical of perimenopause , that is, manifestations that result from the changed hormonal balance that your body is going through.
However, there are cases in which menopause can occur sooner or later than the average.
- Premature menopause is defined if it appears before the age of 40
- Early menopause if it arrives between the ages of 40 and 45
- Late menopause if the period ends definitively after age 55
We also talk about:
- Spontaneous menopause if the ovary naturally runs out of activity;
- Iatrogenic menopause if the interruption of fertility is a consequence of medical treatment, surgery or in any case in which it occurs not for natural causes.
You can learn more about these topics here:
- Early menopause: 4 important red flags
- The management of early menopause in married life
- Endometriosis, menopause and early menopause
- Late menopause: risk factors
- Are there any health consequences for late menopause?
Duration of menopause
When we talk about menopause, speaking of duration is not so obvious. In many cases it refers to the duration of the disorders that can accompany this phase of every woman’s life. Following the scientific nomenclature we can say that the real menopause phase is short , if we consider that it is the central moment that arises between perimenopause and post-menopause.
In reality, in common parlance, menopause means the entire period of life that is no longer fertile, that is, after the definitive cessation of ovarian activity .
If you are interested in learning more about the process that affects this period of your life, you can also read:
- (FAQ) 10 frequently asked questions: the gynecologist answers
- Menopause: how your life changes
- Menopause and relationship
Menstruation, symptoms of impending menopause?
The menstrual cycle is certainly the great protagonist that leaves the scene when the transition from fertile life to menopause is complete. But this transition does not happen suddenly.
As early as the age of 40, many women may begin to notice small but significant changes in the rhythm of the cycle: initially the interval between one menstruation and the next could shorten and the premenstrual syndrome worsen. For some women this change is very evident , for others it is even imperceptible. The same happens when the cycles begin to lengthen progressively, sometimes skipping one or more months. Via, via, the cycles become less and less frequent, until they stop completely.
This slow process of change, called perimenopause , can last anywhere from a few months up to 5.6 years. During this period, typical ailments that herald the imminent menopause may appear: hot flashes, irritability, night sweats, insomnia, weight gain, frequent migraines, changes in the vaginal environment (especially dryness).
If 12 months have passed since the last menstrual cycle, menopause is overt.
In more detail, on the relationship between menopause and menstruation , you can read:
- Alterations in the menstrual cycle in menopause: the causes
- (FAQ) Frequently asked questions about the relationship between cycle and menopause
- Menstrual-like pains in menopause: what are they?
- Menopause and Loss: Is Your Period Still?
Other menopause disorders: nausea
Let us immediately clarify that it is not entirely correct to speak of “symptoms” in relation to menopause , considering that we are not referring to a disease, but to a physiological moment in the life of every woman. That said, if the word nausea suggests early pregnancy, you’re not completely mistaking the association.
Your hormonal balances , in fact, are changing exactly as they did in pregnancy, even if in a much more gradual way. Nausea can be a consequence of hormonal changes related to the end of reproductive age.
Menopause: all ailments
Along with the irregular cycle, other disorders can occur , often mistakenly defined as symptoms :
- Unstable mood, restlessness, short temper, anxiety or a tendency to depression
- Tiredness or difficulty maintaining concentration
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Weight gain, localized abdominal fat accumulation, water retention
- Sudden hot flashes or sweats, both day and night
- Intimate ailments such as dryness, itching, micro-lesions or even dyspareunia
Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy: one in two women in menopause suffers from it
Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy or Atrophic Vaginitis is a disease that affects about 50% of postmenopausal and postmenopausal women . It is linked to the physiological change of the tissues that are influenced by the lack of female hormones. The skin and mucous tissues thin, become more fragile and rigid. At the same time, natural lubrication is reduced and therefore the possibility of developing irritation and injury increases, as well as the possibility of experiencing pain during or after sexual intercourse.
All these signs should prompt you to ask for the support of a gynecologist, because Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy has a progressive course.
If you want to know more you can consult these pages:
- Vulvo vaginal atrophy, what is it?
- Vulvo vaginal atrophy, what can i do?
- Find a gynecologist who specializes in menopause in my city
What is the reason for menopausal disorders?
Many women ask themselves: “But if it is a physiological moment, why does it have to give all this trouble?”
The reason is simple: because what we perceive as a disturbance is the consequence of a much more radical change which we cannot notice. The body changes from the inside by first modifying the production of hormones , which are responsible for that balance that we had already laboriously achieved after the menarche
Already with adolescence the body had gone through a critical moment in all senses: psychologically and physically. So the impact of hormones should already be known for every woman.
With the arrival of menopause this change occurs again but in reverse : the body gradually stops producing some hormones responsible for fertile functions (mainly estrogen and progesterone) and starts producing other hormones (such as testosterone).
This silent change implies the need for the body to adapt to the new substances that circulate, and this explains the frequent headaches, fatigue, irritability, decreased desire and other disorders normally attributable to menopause.
The psyche in menopause: a delicate moment
A woman’s mind, as well as her body, is used to changes. We talked about adolescence, and what about the big, huge psychological change that happens when you become a mother?
A similar type of change also occurs with the arrival of menopause: once the balance is found, we discover a new woman, more balanced, more self-confident, wiser .
Rebirth occurs after passing through a more difficult phase which is generally overcome without too much difficulty by most women. It is perimenopause with its emotional instability, easy irritability, anxiety or a tendency to depression.