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What Are the 3 Stages of Menopause?

What Are the 3 Stages of Menopause?

Menopause is a natural transition every woman experiences. It marks the end of both your fertility and menstrual periods — but did you know that menopause has three distinct stages?

In the United States, the average age of menopause onset is 51. But every woman is different. And the transition into menopause is gradual, which means you might start noticing menopause symptoms much earlier than that.

Katie Ostrom, MD, and our gynecology team in Homer, Alaska, specialize in menopause care. From perimenopause to menopause and beyond, we help you achieve your best possible health.

Here’s what you can expect as you head into the menopausal transition.

Stage 1: Perimenopause

Perimenopause is the first stage of the menopausal transition. It occurs between your most fertile years and the official start of menopause when your estrogen and progesterone levels naturally start declining.

Perimenopause can start at any time during your 30s, 40s, or 50s. It lasts an average of four years, but it can be as short as a few months or as long as 10 years.

Declining hormone levels affect your health in a handful of ways. In fact, many of the most notorious menopause symptoms often start in perimenopause as hormone levels start to drop. These symptoms include:

Along with your hormone levels, your fertility gradually declines during perimenopause. You still get menstrual periods, but they are irregular and become more infrequent.

Stage 2: Menopause

When it’s been one full year since your last menstrual period, you’re in menopause. Your hormone levels have dropped so much that your ovaries aren’t releasing eggs anymore, and there’s no chance you can get pregnant.

Menopause itself lasts about four to five years after perimenopause. Many women experience the same symptoms in both perimenopause and menopause. For some, symptoms can get more intense.  

If menopause symptoms are interfering with your daily life, we can help. There’s no way to stop the menopausal transition, but Dr. Ostrom offers treatments like hormone replacement therapy and MonaLisa Touch® to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Stage 3: Postmenopause

Eventually, your body adjusts to lower estrogen and progesterone levels. Your menopause symptoms begin to fade, and they may even go away completely. This is the postmenopause stage.

Postmenopause lasts the rest of your life. Even though you can no longer get pregnant, it’s important to continue getting regular well-woman exams. Dr. Ostrom and our team work with you to manage your health and address any lingering menopausal symptoms.

Postmenopause marks the end of the menopausal transition, but it’s hardly the end of your life. In fact, many women are surprised to find renewed energy and a more positive outlook on life in their postmenopausal years, a phenomenon known as “postmenopausal zest.”

It’s normal to have questions about what to expect during menopause. Find guidance and personalized menopause care with Dr. Ostrom and our team. Call us at 907-435-0555 or request an appointment online today.

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