The majority of the female population is aware of what menopause brings forth. It is a life-changing event that marks the end of female reproduction. However, menopause does not happen in the blink of an eye. The transitioning may take a few years before reaching the finale. Specifically, a woman undergoes three menopausal stages: premenopause, perimenopause, and menopause. Each of these three phases occurs at different times and shows various indicators, which means treatment methods may vary.
How does one menopausal stage differ from the others? What are the most evident symptoms that one could experience in every phase? Get to know everything about premenopause, perimenopause, and menopause and find ways to mitigate their unwanted symptoms.
Stage One: Premenopause
Premenopause is your life before experiencing menopause. This phase is like the calm before the storm because you won’t actually feel anything unusual in your body other than getting periods. Hormonal imbalance may occur, but it won’t cause any significant changes.
However, your lifestyle during these years does have an impact once you transition to the next menopausal stage known as perimenopause.
Stage Two: Perimenopause
Nothing lasts forever, and neither your premenopausal years. Reaching your 40s signifies that your body is also about to shift towards menopause. During this natural transition, your ovaries begin declining their hormone production. As a result, middle-aged women often experience physical and emotional changes, most of which can be disturbing and stressful.
Unless you have abnormal menstrual cycles, the most common indicator of perimenopause is experiencing irregular periods. The very reason lies in your ovaries, wherein their estrogen production drastically increases and decreases from time to time. Having unbalanced hormonal levels can also disturb other physiological functions, thereby causing health-related problems. Below are the most common symptoms that one may experience during this menopausal transition.
a. Hot Flashes
The majority of women often experience sudden warm sensations on their upper bodies during the first two years of perimenopause. A hot flash episode mostly occurs due to the decrease of estrogen levels. According to studies, estrogen is strongly linked to your brain’s hypothalamus and its ability to regulate body temperature. A disturbance in body temperature is most likely to happen when estrogens decrease in number, causing you to feel hot and uncomfortable.
b. Vaginal Dryness
During perimenopause, vaginal walls become thinner and less stretchable as a result of low estrogen levels. Fewer fluids are secreted for lubrication, resulting in vaginal dryness. Unfortunately, this menopausal symptom can decrease one’s libido, thereby affecting sexual activities.
c. Sleeping Problems
Difficulty in sleeping is also another plausible sign of perimenopause. Estrogen is also essential for melatonin production, the hormone responsible for your circadian rhythm or sleeping cycle. So, when your estrogen levels drastically drop, melatonin levels even decline, causing sleeping disturbances and triggering insomnia.
d. Mood swings
Even before perimenopause, most women suffer from mood swings, especially before and during their menstrual periods due to fluctuating estrogen levels. However, mood changes may become more frequent and more extreme during the transition since estrogen levels dramatically spike up and down.
e. Skin and hair issues
Perimenopause does not only affect you internally and emotionally, but it can also manifest in your physical appearance. For instance, your hair may grow fewer and sparser strands, and your skin may also become drier than usual, all of which are results of declining estrogen levels. Therefore, women must pay more attention and take extra care of their hair and skin during this crucial stage to avoid irreversible consequences in the future.
Your menopausal transition may last for several months or go longer than four years. As your perimenopause lengthens, fewer estrogens are being produced. However, all things must come to an ending. Once your estrogen levels are so low that your ovaries can no longer release eggs, you have now entered the finale of your menstruation, the menopausal stage.
Stage Three: Menopause
After years of suffering from menopausal symptoms, an absence of menstruation for a year means that you’re no longer in the perimenopausal phase but in the menopausal stage. As mentioned earlier, the drastic decline of estrogen levels can affect your ovaries’ egg cell production, thereby halting your menstrual periods. Menopause also signifies that you can longer get pregnant naturally. However, not all women who don’t get monthly periods are in their menopausal stage; it could also be a sign of a reproductive disorder. So, if you haven’t had your monthly period for a year or two, you may need to consult your physician for confirmation.
Estrogen depletion can also affect other hormonal productions, thereby affecting other biological activities. Symptoms during the perimenopause may also worsen during menopause. You may even get more restless, irritable, and anxious, but you can handle these emotional changes with proper treatment.
Menopause is not something to be feared. Though hormonal levels may be significantly lower than they used to be, you can still do many things to get your body back in its healthy state.
Now that you no longer have to spend bucks buying tampons or napkins since menstrual periods are over, what happens next? Unfortunately, you still have to face the aftermath of menopause during the postmenopausal stage.
Stage 4: Postmenopause
After being free from the shackles of menopausal symptoms, many postmenopausal problems await you. Estrogens are known to catalyze or support other physiological activities. Since your ovaries could no longer produce estrogens, postmenopausal women become more susceptible to numerous health problems, such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases. Without mediation, you are also at risk of experiencing postmenopausal hair loss and developing saggy and dry skin. But don’t worry, for a healthy diet and an improved lifestyle can mitigate the effects after your menopausal journey.
However, not everyone begins their menopausal journey synchronously. Some people may start experiencing menopausal symptoms and stop having menstruations earlier than expected. This untimely transition is also known as premature menopause. What will happen if you hit menopause ahead of time? Learn more about this condition and the things you can do to prevent it from happening.
Should You Be Worried About Premature Menopause?
Menopause signifies that your ovaries are on the brink of retirement, making it common and normal for women to enter the menopausal stage during their late 40s and early 50s. Yet, some circumstances can forcibly push women to undergo menopause as early as their 30s, which can adversely impact womanhood. You are also in danger of developing heart diseases or bone disorders at an earlier age because of your declining estrogen levels. Early menopause also prevents aspiring mothers from getting pregnant and bearing children naturally, which can trigger emotional problems such as depression.
Factors that can trigger premature menopause include family history, ovarian disorders and surgeries, frequent smoking, and radioactive therapies. Therefore, it is of utmost significance to develop a healthy lifestyle to avoid the untimely inception of menopausal symptoms.
So, what can you do to keep your menopausal experiences less stressful without compromising your health? Check out some self-care tips on how to make your menopausal journey happy and meaningful.
Healthy and Helpful Tips for a Happy and Healthy Menopausal Journey
1. Spare some time for exercising.
Regardless of your age, exercise is far more critical in keeping yourself healthy. Being less stressed can help reduce the severity and frequency of menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and insomnia. By exercising, you can reduce your stress levels and prevent fatigue.
Some of the aerobic exercises include jogging, running, and doing sports activities. If not, you can try doing yoga. It is a self-meditative physical activity, which has been linked to reducing stress levels and alleviating menopausal symptoms.
2. Avoid smoking and alcohol drinking.
Many studies have pointed to smoking as a primary cause of premature menopause. According to various researches, the toxins that you inhale from smoking can decrease your estrogen levels. Smoking can also push premature ovarian aging, thereby accelerating the decline of estrogen production. If you don’t smoke, you will also save yourself from dozens of health issues.
3. Boost your diet with proper nutrition.
As cliché as it may sound, a healthy diet positively impacts your body, especially during your menopausal transition. During perimenopause, your fluctuating estrogens may disturb physiological functions, and in these trying times, you need enough supplementation to prevent your body from bagging down. Thus, always eat a hearty supply of nutrient-enriched meals to keep menopausal issues at bay.
Enjoy your Stress-free Menopausal Journey.
Hormones are vital for organs and tissues to carry out their various functions. However, it would be best to stop your hormonal levels from dictating the way you live. By doing the things that can keep you in shape and avoiding those that can deteriorate your health, you will be able to enjoy your menopausal journey with minimal to no problems at all.
Grow Healthy Hair During Your Menopausal Transition.
Don’t let menopause cause your bad hair days. Keep your hair long and healthy during, and even after your menopausal journey using the best shampoo for hair growth. Don’t forget to take hair vitamins to boost hair growth and improve your hair’s quality.