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Menopause 101: Definitions & Ages

Menopause can be a hard topic to get your-head-around.

We are hardly taught anything about menopause until it is actually upon us. No wonder most of us are confused and overwhelmed in the beginning. 

That's why knowledge is power.

By understanding the basics of menopause you will be equipped to:

  • Better identify the start of menopause. 
  • Recognize symptoms as they occur. 

Educating yourself about menopause will ensure you survive and thrive through this change and beyond!

 

What You Will Learn

  • The definitions of perimenopause, menopause & post-menopause.
  • A list of the most common symptoms associated with menopause.
  • The average ages you can expect to enter into perimenopause, menopause & post-menopause.
  • The age ranges of menopause and the types of early menopause. 
  • Perimenopause & menopause symptoms to become aware of. 
  • Top tips to help with the start of perimenopause. 

 

The moon cycle

Definitions 

Menopause is reached:

 

Once your cycle has ceased for a continuous 12 months.

 

The lesser-known fact is that most women experience symptoms before they even reach menopause. Prior to menopause, you will go through a phase called perimenopause:

 

The transition from the reproductive years through to menopause.

 

After reaching menopause you will enter into the phase known as post-menopause. Symptoms can persist but generally start to lessen over time. 

 

Average Ages

On average:

 

Perimenopause begins at 47 and lasts 4 yrs.

 

Therefore: 

 

The average age to reach menopause is 51.

 

Age Ranges 

Each woman's experience of menopause is different. The age that women enter perimenopause can vary widely.

It can come as a huge shock if you go through menopause in your 30's or early 40's.  The fact that many women experience menopause much younger is not often discussed. 

 

Reaching menopause before 45 is classed as Early Menopause. 

Reaching menopause before 40 is defined as Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI)

 

If either of these is the case, you may start experiencing perimenopausal symptoms in your 30's. 

The below graphic highlights the various stages of a woman's life and menopause. 

 

Infographic showing the phases of menopause - premenopause, perimenopause, menopause & post menopause

 

Perimenopause Symptoms 

During perimenopause, your cycles will begin to change in intensity, duration, and length.

You will also most likely experience other symptoms commonly associated with “menopause.”

Signs that you may be entering this phase could include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Breast tenderness
  • Urinary tract infections or change in urinary urgency 
  • Dizziness 
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Loss of concentration & memory 
  • Muscle aches & pains 
  • Changes in skin & hair 
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Lower sex drive
  • Hot flashes
  • Increased stomach gas 
  • Increased facial hair growth 
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety & depression 
  • Weight gain 

We know - it is a big list! But, don't despair - follow our top tips below. 

 

 Start here stencil spray painted in pink on a asphalt footpath

Top Tips  

If you think you may be entering perimenopause or are in the age range that it could occur here are a few tips:

a) Track Your Cycle 

When we are caught up in life it is easy to lose track of what is happening with our bodies.  No wonder so many women start perimenopause and think it is something completely different. There is so much stress in dealing with an unknown. That is why our first top tip is to track your cycle. 

By tracking your cycle you will learn what is normal for you and when it changes from this baseline. It is easier to do than ever before by downloading an app like Flo Simply enter when and for how long your period lasts. Soon you will have enough data to measure changes from.

b) Check Thyroid Function 

The symptoms of an underactive or overactive thyroid can be similar to perimenopausal symptoms.  Therefore, it is helpful to rule out a pre-existing thyroid imbalance.

 

Notably, 1 in 8 women suffers from thyroid problems so talk to your medical professional about getting a thyroid test done. 

 

c) Check B12 Levels  

Low levels of Vitamin B12 can have a big effect on your energy levels and mental health.   

 

A deficiency of B12 is quite common in both men and women especially over the age of 50. 

 

My partner is normally a high energy person. Out of the blue, he seemed to be very low and a bit weird. “I don’t know what's the matter with me,” he said. I sent him off for blood tests and sure enough, he was very low in B12.  After a course of 3 injections, he was back to his normal annoying high energy level self!

 d) Test for Other Deficiencies & Toxins 

By the time we hit perimenopause, we have lived a lot of life!  We have most likely been subject to many viruses, bacteria, and toxins along the way. Also, 40 years of diet and lifestyle choices could mean that we are low in certain nutrients and minerals.  

One of the best things you can do when entering perimenopause is to prioritize your health more. The better all-round health you have the lower your chances are of having more severe symptoms. 

Think of it as a new clean slate to kick start your body again.  To do this we need a baseline.  The Thyroid and B12 tests from the doctor are great starting places but if you can afford a hair follicle test instead I would highly recommend it (this normally includes readings on Thyroid and B12 levels).

With the hair follicle results, you will find what specific areas you need to target. Therefore, saving money in the long run by only buying the vitamins/minerals you are low in. My family and I had our hair tested and it was amazing what they concluded.  By only taking a few different vitamins (we had never heard of before) we all had improved energy levels and my son had weight loss due to increasing his Iodine intake. 

 

Final Thoughts 

No matter how healthy you are there is still a high chance you will experience some symptoms of menopause. Some women are lucky enough to breeze through (damn them!) but the majority of women will face at least a few symptoms. 

It is really hard to accept the fact that there are so many often difficult changes...I know it was for me. But, once you do accept it you can begin to take action to be prepared. Being prepared and knowing what to expect will help you survive and even thrive in menopause and beyond. 

If you have started to experience hot flashes check out our range of cooling products. Please, also share to get the word out there about perimenopause. 

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