Menopause occurs for most women between the ages of 45 and 55 (average age in the United States 51), when the production of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) declines.
These hormonal changes will usually cause irregular menstrual periods before they stop altogether. Once the menses have stopped for a year, it is called “menopause,” and the time of menstrual changes before and after the stop is referred to as the “perimenopause.”
During this time, women commonly experience hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood changes. Other women may have an increased number of urinary tract infections, fatigue, and frustrations with short-term memory changes. Some women have only irregular periods.
Women respond to menopause individually, depending upon their own expectations, their physical and emotional feelings, and information from friends, family, health care providers, and the media.
If you are a perimenopausal woman you should talk with us about maintaining healthy bones, dealing with menopausal changes, and assuring a birth control method if applicable (women over 40 are second only to teens under 14 in the number of unintended pregnancies).